science of us

How’s That Weighted Blanket Working Out?

Photo: chinaface/Getty Images

Weighted blankets are essentially heavy quilts with glass or plastic pellets in each pocket. They weigh between 5 and 25 pounds, typically, and the idea is that their heaviness creates a sense of calmness and security in the user (most companies suggest getting a blanket that’s 10 percent of your body weight). The blankets were originally used as sleep aids in the special-needs community, but in recent years they’ve gained popularity as anxiety-reducers for the general population. I bought one on Amazon a couple months ago (for $77), but I found it too hot and restrictive.

My friend mentioned wanting a Gravity Blanket, though — the fastest-growing brand (often seen on Instagram) — so I asked the company for one of those, which they sent to me, and which I lugged over to my friend’s home a few weeks ago. (These things are truly heavy.)

Now that she’s had it for a while, I wanted to know: Was it working? (What does “working” mean? Was its massiveness an oppressive presence in her home?)

Why did you want a weighted blanket? Were you influenced by social media?
You know how sometimes you hear a word and you think, Gee, I haven’t heard that word used a lot. And then all of a sudden you hear that word everywhere all the time?

Well, that’s what happened for me with weighted blankets. I went from not knowing what they were to suddenly hearing an awful lot about them. Mostly from friends, in real life, I think.

I’ve been a insomniac since the age of 7 or 8. It goes in waves, but it’s always there, and sleeping has always been the source of a lot of anxiety — both falling and staying asleep. I’ve tried a number of things over the years — including sleeping pills and white noise machines and a strict sleep schedule, but this solution — a really heavy blanket! — seemed just simple enough to maybe somehow work.

How did you feel when I brought it over to your home?
Honestly, I was thrilled so much I’m embarrassed to explain just how much. I would have stayed in the researching/not-buying phase for a long time and probably would have gotten paralyzed by the different kinds and weights and then given up. It arrived (thanks to you lugging it through sleet and rain) and it was love at first sight.

Do you sleep with it all night? How do you “use” it?
The blanket stays on my bed, mostly. I had considered dragging it out to the living room for TV time on a rainy weekend, but it’s so heavy and I’m so lazy. I am a big believer in good “sleeping weather,” which basically translates to “cold weather.” I feel like I sleep better when I’m under a mound of covers. An extra heavy one? Hell-o.

What do you like about it?
What I like best about it is that for a toss-y, turn-y, light-ass sleeper like me, the blanket is sort of like someone putting their hands on my shoulders and saying, “Shhh, shhhhhh: It’s fine now, don’t move.”

After reading what I just typed, I realize that sounds way more murder-y than I meant. It’s a GOOD thing. I’ve compared it to being at the dentist (another place of regular anxiety), and getting that lead apron put on me for X-rays. That apron always makes me less stressed! The weighted blanket does the same thing. When I wake up and start tossing, it’s just heavy enough to make me think, “Oh never mind — I AM fine!”

What do you dislike about it?
Sometimes I get too hot during the night, and that wakes me up. But that doesn’t happen so often, and the pros outweigh the cons. I’m actually already worried about my dependence on it and what’s going to happen in the summer when it’s hot. (Is there a light linen option?)

How has it affected your anxiety levels? (What are your anxiety levels?)
Can anything really make me less anxious in 2018? Don’t answer that! But I will say there have been a few times that I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and felt freaked out about things both small and big (did I remember to thank that nice barista at the coffee shop? Did I turn the oven off? Will the sun explode before I make it to Sweden?), and I pull the nice heavy blanket up around my shoulders and feel reassured.

How’s That Weighted Blanket Working Out?