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Do Weighted Blankets Really Work? Here’s What Science (& Users) Tell Us

As she got up for the 4th time that night (at 3AM this time around), Sarah wondered when she became “that person” - someone who doesn’t sleep well and then spends hours telling people about it the next day. She wasn’t really an insomniac - she could fall asleep easily at night. But, somehow, it never lasted. She would either wake up feeling totally alert, or she would fidget in her sleep until she woke up in the morning feeling exhausted. That night, she thought about something her friend suggested a few days back and started wondering:

“Do weighted blankets really work?”

For us here at the Calming Blanket, Sarah is a prototype of customer we meet on a daily basis.

A professional and a mom who deals with the stresses of her work while trying to balance her home life and taking care of herself.

She, along with many others, doesn’t have an insomnia diagnosis, but she still struggles with getting a good night’s rest. That’s because the stress that accumulates in each and every one of us during the day takes its toll once we lie down and our body starts the healing process.

Because we’re so wound up and our mind is constantly racing, it’s difficult for our brain to shut off and focus on restorative rest.

This results in poor sleeping patterns, anxiety, more stress, and can even adversely affect our mental state, as well as lower our productivity.

And that question on Sarah’s mind - do weighted blankets work - is a question we get asked every few hours, without fail. It’s a fair question.

In a world when everyone is trying to sell the magic bullet that solves all problems, you have the right to be skeptical about things.

In fact, we encourage you to ask us about our weighted blanket and to do your own research.

To help you with that, we’re more than happy to invite you to check out our Facebook reviews.

More than 350 happy customers recommend the Calming Blanket as a tool for better sleep, a tool for managing anxiety, depression, and mood swings, and a tool to deal effectively with sensory issues.

reviews confirming that weighted blankets do work

Those 350 reviews have resulted in a 5 STAR RECOMMENDATION, which means that you can scroll through them and it is going to be a challenge to find someone who doesn’t recommend the Calming Blanket. In fact, we’re so excited by the results that our customers are seeing, that we decided to create the Calming Blanket Challenge. Everyone with an Apple watch is invited to record their sleep patterns (while using the blanket), and post the results on our Facebook page. Barbara here went from an average of 5.5 hours of sleep to well over 7.5 hours in just seven days!

calming blanket challenge

We are immensely proud of that because it means that we’re doing something right.

It means that we are helping people achieve their full potential every single day because they are well-rested, and not as stressed out and anxious as they would otherwise be.

The Calming Blanket IS changing lives for the better, which is exactly what we set out to do when we started the company.

We refer everyone who asks us do weighted blankets work to those 350 (and counting) glowing reviews.

They are all the validation that we need. But, we understand that you might need a bit more convincing.

That’s why we’ll explore the effectiveness of weighted blankets further in this post, but we first want to you to listen to what Dr. Alison, a licensed psychotherapist, has to say on whether or not weighted blankets work.

As we have had a lot of excellent feedback from our customers, we slowly built out a list of conditions that might benefit from weighted blanket therapy.

Keep in mind that this is all anecdotal - stories our customers shared with us - and that conclusive scientific studies on whether and how weighted blankets work for some conditions are still needed.

The studies that have been published already all favour the use of weighted blankets, and we’ll talk about them later in this post - so keep reading!

Weighted blankets are commonly used for:

  • Acute or chronic insomnia or poor sleeping patterns.
  • Sensory processing disorder and other sensory conditions.
  • Anxiety, depression, stress, panic attacks, and other mental health conditions.
  • Night terrors and nightmares.
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity syndrome.
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms and pain.
  • Inability to focus for longer periods of time.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Various symptoms that usually accompany the autism spectrum disorder.

Each of these conditions can result in poor sleep, which, in turn, makes other symptoms worse, trapping you in a vicious, self-perpetuating circle of sleepless nights and unproductive days. The next time you’re stuck in one of those horrible loops, we invite you not just to ask yourself do weighted blankets work, but to give them a try. The evidence supporting their general  therapeutic effect and the principle behind them is, thankfully, NOT merely anecdotal - here’s what researchers have to say about it all.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work? The Science Behind The Magic

science chart - does science say that weighted blankets work?

If you have ever been to a massage, then you already know the therapeutic principle behind weighted blankets. It’s pressure or, more accurately, deep pressure stimulation.

Studies have shown that deep pressure stimulation is very beneficial to one of our senses, the proprioceptive sense. Also called the sixth sense, proprioceptive input is activated by deep pressure stimulation that happens when you cover with a weighted blanket - or when you get massaged. Since it’s responsible for signaling the position of your body, limbs, and joints to the brain, this activation has an overall beneficial effect that calms and soothes you.

Additionally, deep pressure stimulation makes the body switch from sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic one - from the “fight or flight” response to the “rest and digest” response, so to speak. Once that happens, your heart rate slows, muscles relax, and the body starts producing endorphins - hormones that are associated with happiness and “runner’s high”. Weighted blankets can approximate this feeling, although the effect is a bit more subdued than with standard deep pressure stimulation therapies.

autonomous nervous system chart

 

The deep pressure of a weighted blanket can also make you feel like you’re being hugged or swaddled, which is also a very powerful (and calming) stimulus. Think of small babies - even the fussiest ones will stop crying and protesting as soon as they are picked up and held tight.

“Absolutely love this blanket and highly recommend for anyone who has been considering purchasing one! Has improved my sleep greatly and definitely helps tone down my anxiety, not only at night but during the day when I use it on the couch for comfort as well. The company has amazing customer service and an amazing product so 100% recommend! (And have for many friends!)”

Caitlin McFarlane, Yeppoon, Queensland

Do Weighted Blankets Work For Stress & Anxiety?

stress illustration

Judging from the comments and the reviews from our customers, weighted blankets work astonishingly well when it comes to reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress. Most people comment on how they feel instantly relaxed and calm after covering, which might have a  lot to do with the switch to the parasympathetic nervous system that is triggered by the additional weight.

There’s one study that’s of particular interest here, and it was done on patients undergoing a wisdom tooth extraction. Known as one of the most anxiety-inducing procedures in dentistry, it was the perfect opportunity to put the question of “do weighted blankets really work” for these types of issues to the test. What the researchers found was that, under the weighted blankets, the patients showed more activity in the part of the nervous system that is in control during times of low stress. This means that their parasympathetic nervous system kicked in, reducing high anxiety generally associated with this type of surgery.

“Worth its weight in gold. Delivered within days of ordering. Very happy with the product. Very good quality and well made. Bought it for our 12 yr old child suffering from anxiety and sleeping issues. After the first night using the blanket she said she had the best night sleep ever. Every night since she has stayed in bed and slept well. She absolutely loves it. A very worthwhile investment.”

Michael Jodi Krisanski, Australia

Read our extensive post on how weighted blankets work for stress and anxiety issues to learn more. Of course, if you have any questions at all, send us a message - we’re always more than happy to help!

Do Weighted Blankets Work For Insomnia?

woman in bed not able to sleep

People suffering from insomnia are very wary of magic bullets that claim that they can solve all their sleeping problems. We get it - we’ve been where you are, too! Just like Sarah from the story at the start of this post, we’re all entitled to question new approaches until we’re convinced that they will work for us.

All that we’re going to say here is that studies that have been done (and we acknowledge the need for more studies) mostly support the assumption that weighted blankets can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Here is a link to one study that concluded that sleeping with a weighted blanket increases sleep bout time, and was associated with more restful sleep. The participants of this particular study were children with ADHD. It concluded that kids sleeping with a weighted blanket slept better, fell asleep faster, and woke up less during the night.

That said, we acknowledge the fact that weighted blankets are not a cure-all - their effectiveness will depend on the conditions in question, the severity of the symptoms, and one’s responsiveness to deep pressure stimulation.

“I purchased for my 8-year-old son who would be hopping out of bed several times and taking over an hour to fall to sleep most nights. Since using the blanket, he hasn't hopped out of bed and is generally asleep within 15 minutes. Can't recommend enough - thank you!”

Katie Rogers, Australia

You can check out our full post on how weighted blankets help with insomnia right here. Make sure to give it a read - it references more studies that were published in recent years on the subject.

If you have any questions about the Calming Blanket - or about the principle of weighted therapy - don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We made sure to answer the most common questions here but for everything else, you can send us a message on Facebook or shoot an email at help@calmingblankets.com.au. One of our representatives will connect with you as soon as possible!