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Should You Sleep With a Weighted Blanket? (Full Guide)

Stephanie-Abi-Zeid.
  • This article has been researched and reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (Embryologist, Andrologist, B.S, MSc) for factual accuracy.

If you’re having sleep problems then you might have heard that sleeping under a weighted blanket can help.

But who should sleep with a weighted blanket and who should avoid using a weighted blanket?

You should consider sleeping with a weighted blanket if you have insomnia, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, autism, ADHD, dementia, or osteoarthritis – avoid a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea, asthma, breathing problems, claustrophobia, skin allergies, or heart disease. Children under 2 years of age should NOT use a weighted blanket due to the risk of suffocation.

The rest of this article explains in detail what a weighted blanket is for, if a weighted blanket is right for you, the pros, the cons, how to sleep with a weighted blanket, and how to wash a weighted blanket.

Is a Weighted Blanket Right For You?

Deciding to sleep under a weighted blanket is a highly personal choice.

That’s why I’ve provided this full guide below that answers the most common questions in regards to who should consider using a weighted blanket and who should probably avoid a weighted blanket to help you reach a more informed conclusion.

What is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is a blanket that’s filled with plastic pellets or tiny beads to increase the weight of the blanket to the 3-30 lbs range for the purpose of increasing relaxation and potentially alleviating some conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome by simulating the effects of deep pressure therapy [1].

More specifically, weighted blankets are designed to apply a firm but gentle pressure on your body to make you feel comfortable before falling asleep.

The pressure from the additional weight acts on your nervous system to stimulate the release or the suppression of certain hormones that play a major role in lessening stress and alleviating insomnia.  

For example, swaddling in a weighted blanket can boost the production of endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin – all of which can generate feelings of calm and well-being.

Conversely, there is typically a reduction in the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can thus help to relieve stress and allow you to sleep more comfortably throughout the night. 

What Does Sleeping Under a Weighted Blanket Feel like?

Sleeping under a weighted blanket can feel like you’re being hugged gently across your entire body, with a more weighty and enveloping feel being produced by weighted blankets on the heavier end of the spectrum.

Who Can Benefit From a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket can be especially beneficial for people with conditions such as anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insomnia, restless leg syndrome (RLS), dementia, and osteoarthritis.

A weighted blanket may also benefit people undergoing medical procedures such as dental treatment or clinical checkups, and anxious students preparing for exams.

A weighted blanket can help ease the body and mind; minimizing feelings of stress, anxiety, pain, and general sleep problems.

Who Should Avoid a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket can be hazardous for children under two years old or anyone who cannot remove the blanket on their own, as it can cover their face and may increase the risk of suffocation.

A weighted blanket may also be detrimental for people with certain conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, breathing problems, claustrophobia, skin allergies, and heart diseases.

Always consult with your doctor before buying a weighted blanket or any other sleep product for your specific health condition to avoid any issues.

Can a Child Sleep With a Weighted Blanket?

It’s not recommended that a child under 2 years of age sleeps with a weighted blanket due to the risk of suffocation associated with the child’s face being covered and the infant’s lack of strength and ability to move the blanket away from their nose and mouth.

And although many weighted blanket manufacturers say that you can use a blanket that weighs up to 10% of your child’s body weight, don’t treat this as a hard and fast rule because most of these blankets have not been tested to ensure that they are safe for young children.

In reality, a weighted blanket can weigh between 3 and 30 lbs – whilst the average 2-year-old weighs between 20 and 30 lbs – meaning that it would likely be very difficult for an infant to be able to move a blanket that potentially weighs more than (or even just a fraction of) their own body weight.

Can You Sleep With a Weighted Blanket While Pregnant?

If you’re pregnant then it’s typically considered safe to sleep with a weighted blanket that weighs between 7% and 12% of your total body weight [2] – however, some women may feel discomfort due to the blanket’s weight, which may aggravate hot flashes and create a feeling of stuffiness. 

During pregnancy, it becomes harder for pregnant women to get a good quality of sleep due to body and hormonal changes.

A weighted blanket can reduce stress, anxiety, and release “happy hormones” that create feelings of well-being and relaxation.

Because of this, a weighted blanket can be a great investment for pregnant women to alleviate the side effects of pregnancy and to provide better sleep.

What’s the Best Position to Sleep With a Weighted Blanket?

The best position to sleep with a weighted blanket is on your back because the weight of the blanket is evenly distributed throughout your whole body and your spine remains aligned. 

However, if you are a side sleeper, you may feel discomfort due to the weight of the blanket putting too much strain on your hip and shoulder.

In such a case, manufacturers recommend a lighter-weighted blanket for side sleepers. 

Do You Put the Weighted Blanket Over the Comforter?

A weighted blanket can be used over or under a comforter.

However, some people have claimed that putting the weighted blanket beneath the comforter will make you feel too warm, whilst others have said that placing the weighted blanket over the comforter will cause the comforter to flatten.

So the best thing to do is to try both arrangements and see what feels best for you.

Where Can You Buy a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are available at drugstores, department stores, and online.

You can find premade or custom made weighted blankets manufactured by companies such as Gravity, Layla, Mosaic, and SensaCalm.

How Do You Choose a Weighted Blanket That’s Right for You?

To choose a weighted blanket that’s right for you, weigh yourself and select a blanket that weighs around 10% of your body weight.

Then you should choose a material that meets your needs and preferences – opt for cotton or bamboo for extra breathability if you are a hot sleeper.

Pick a size that fits your bed size, unless you are looking for larger weighted blankets to serve as a bedspread.

Finally, make sure that the price of the blanket matches your budget.

Don’t forget to consult with your doctor if you have a health condition before purchasing a weighted blanket.

Pros v Cons

Below is a list of the possible pros and cons of using a weighted blanket.

The 6 Pros Of Using a Weighted Blanket

Here are the 6 potential benefits of sleeping under a weighted blanket: 

1: A Weighted Blanket Replicates the Feeling of a Hug

When the heavy blanket wraps around your entire body, it promotes a feeling of reassurance, safety, and comfort within you.

This warm feeling is very similar to that of a gentle hug from someone you love.

2: A Weighted Blanket Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can affect our physical and mental health.

Sleeping with a weighted blanket can trigger the release of natural chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate your mood by lessening anxiety and inducing relaxation.

3: A Weighted Blanket Can Relieve Restless Leg Syndrome

People who suffer from restless leg syndrome have an irresistible need to move their legs when in bed, which disrupts their sleeping pattern.

A weighted blanket can ease the symptoms due to its gentle pressure on the legs.

4: A Weighted Blanket Can Soothe ASD and ADHD Symptoms

A weighted blanket can have a soothing effect on people suffering from sensory conditions like autism and ADHD; potentially helping calm their restless body and minimize their anxiety, which can help them sleep better at night.

5: A Weighted Blanket Can Alleviate Insomnia and Sleep Troubles

When you have a hard time falling asleep, a weighted blanket can help increase your level of serotonin, which naturally converts into melatonin to induce sleep and relaxation at night-time [3].

6: A Weighted Blanket Can Aid the Elderly to Rest More Comfortably

As people age, they can experience more stress and sleep issues in comparison to young people.

A weighted blanket has shown positive results in helping the elderly rest better, especially those with dementia [4].

The 4 Cons Of Using a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are generally safe.

However, just like any other product in the market, they don’t come without drawbacks. 

Here are a few cons to weighted blankets that are worth mentioning:

1: A Weighted Blanket Can Be Hard to Transport

The weight of a weighted blanket ranges between 3 and 30 pounds.

And in the case of blankets at the heavier end of the spectrum, it could be difficult to pack the blanket for traveling.

2: A Weighted Blanket Can Make You Hot

If you naturally tend to sleep hot then you may find that weighted blankets made from synthetic materials like polyester can cause you to overheat.

In which case you should opt for more natural and breathable materials like cotton or bamboo – or even choosing a cooling bed sheet set instead.

3: A Weighted Blanket is Not Suitable For Young Children

A weighted blanket is not safe for children under 2 years of age or for people who can’t remove the blanket without someone’s assistance because if the blanket is too heavy it could cover the person’s face – increasing the risk of suffocation.

Similarly, a weighted blanket is not suitable for people with breathing or heart problems because it could worsen their condition.

4: A Weighted Blanket Can Take Time to Get Used To

You may have to sleep consistently with the blanket for a week or so in order to get used to the feel of the blanket.

How to Sleep With a Weighted Blanket 

To sleep with a weighted blanket you should initially try sleeping with just the weighted blanket; then the weighted blanket plus the comforter, and finally by draping the blanket over different sections of your body in a range of sleeping positions to find the most comfortable combination for you.

More details below.

1: Try Sleeping With and Without a Comforter

Try experimenting by putting your weighted blanket on top of your comforter for one night, then use your weighted blanket without the comforter on another night to see what feels the most comfortable for you.

2: Try Covering Different Parts of Your Body

Configure your blanket in different positions to see how your body responds.

For example, first place your weighted blanket on your upper body and keep your feet uncovered, then place it on your lower body and keep your chest and face uncovered. 

Then try wrapping both your chest and legs under the weighted blanket to evenly distribute the weight and pressure over your entire body.

How to Wash a Weighted Blanket

It’s very important to clean and maintain your weighted blanket regularly in order to increase its lifespan. 

To wash a weighted blanket, you should read the instructions on the label, then you should tackle the stains on both the outer cover and the inner blanket, and finally, you should either machine wash or hand wash them separately. 

Below are the exact 4 steps you should take to wash your weighted blanket correctly so that it doesn’t end up being shrunken or damaged.

1: Read the Instructions on the Label

Weighted blankets are made of different materials.

Therefore, make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions on the tag to learn how to wash your specific blanket without damaging the fabric.

2: Tackle Stains on Both the Cover and Inner Blanket

If the weighted blanket comes with a cover, separate the inner blanket from the cover and check both for signs of stains.

Spot clean the blanket and the cover by applying soap, a gentle detergent without bleach, or a stain remover.

Scrub the stains then rinse with cold water.

3: Machine Wash or Hand Wash the Inner Blanket

To machine wash your blanket, you should put the inner blanket alone into the washing machine, set your machine on a gentle cycle, and use a mild detergent to clean the blanket.

If your weighted blanket is more than 12 pounds, you will need to send it to a laundromat. 

To hand-wash your blanket, fill your bathtub with warm or cold water depending on the fabric and on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add a cup of a mild detergent without bleach.

Sink the blanket into the bathtub and wash it thoroughly.

Empty the mixture from the tub, then rinse the blanket with water alone until the blanket is free of soap.

Wring out the blanket and then let it dry. 

4: Dry the Weighted Blanket

Air dry your blanket in the sun.

Make sure you shake and flip it out every hour to maintain an even distribution of the inner filling.

You can put the weighted blanket in the dryer only if the instructions on the tag allow it. 

Conclusion: A Cost-Effective Way to Sleep Better

A weighted blanket can provide comfort that can improve your mood and sleep experience. 

Weighted blankets have already shown positive results in individuals with conditions like insomnia, anxiety, autism, and ADHD. 

Make sure to select the right fabric, weight, and size to provide you with the maximum amount of comfort and to prevent overheating.

Weighted blankets are not recommended for young children or adults who are incapable of removing the blanket off their body or face when feeling trapped. 

Otherwise, weighted blankets offer a cost effective way to potentially get a better night’s rest.


Sources and References

[1] Taylor Francis Online – Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket. Accessed 13/11/20.

[2] Hush Blankets – Are Weighted Blankets Safe to Use? Accessed 13/11/20.

[3] DiVA – Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. Accessed 13/11/20.

[4] Daily Caring – Weighted Blankets in Dementia Care Reduce Anxiety and Improve Sleep. Accessed 13/11/20.

Medical Disclaimer

No part of this article or website is should be interpreted as medical advice – please consult with a qualified professional if you require such guidance.

Image Licencing and Attribution

Main image: ‘Female Legs Under Grey Blanket’ by Golubovy (Getty Images Pro) – used with permission under Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

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