Weighted Blankets & Deep Touch Pressure

Benefit from Deep Touch Pressure to Relieve Anxiety.

What is a weighted blanket?

A weighted blanket is a therapeutic modality that has been used in occupational therapy for years.

Weighted blankets, or sensory blankets, as they’re also known, appear to help soothe, nurture and reduce the anxiety of the people who use them.

How do weighted blankets work?

Step 1: Lay under them.

Kidding! I mean, you do need to lay under them, but I assume what you really want to know is why do weighted blankets work.

Well, that answer is going to be a bit lengthier:

As the name indicates, weighted blankets are heavy blankets.Meaning, they’re filled with little pellets or beads that make them heavy. Quite heavy, actually. Think something like 14lbs for someone who weighs around 140 pounds.

That’s because whoever is under them needs to feel their pressure.

This is one of the qualities offered by weighted blankets: they provide Deep Pressure Stimulation or “DPS.”

DPS is a kind of touch pressure that can be accomplished by firm touching, holding, stroking, hugging, swaddling, and squeezing.

DPS is believed to stimulate the release of serotonin and calm people who are anxious.

3. Benefits of the weighted blanket for anxiety

The weighted blanket is used as a deep touch pressure tool, and it helps give the user feelings of safety, relaxation, and comfort. Thus, weighted blankets may help you to:

  1. Reduce anxiety;
  2. Sleep better.

All this sounds great, but do weighted blankets really work?

There’s not a lot of research out there about the effectiveness of weighted blankets specifically, but there is about the benefits of deep touch pressure.

Two research papers I found about weighted blankets are:

1. Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket (2006)

An exploratory study on the safety and effectiveness of the use of a 30 lb weighted blanket with a convenience sample of 32 adults.

Effectiveness was investigated by electrodermal activity (EDA), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-10, and an exit survey.

Data obtained on effectiveness reveal 33% demonstrated lowering in EDA when using the weighted blanket, 63% reported lower anxiety after use, and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.

2. Effect of deep pressure input on parasympathetic system in patients with wisdom tooth surgery (2016)

This study investigated the effects of deep pressure input on autonomic responses to wisdom tooth extraction in healthy adults.

The data revealed that applying a weighted blanket alters the autonomic response to wisdom tooth extraction by maintaining LF-HRV [low-frequency heart-rate variability], increasing HF-HRV [high-frequency heart-rate variability], and reducing LF/ HF-HRV [low-frequency/ high-frequency heart-rate variability].

I based most of the info you can read in this article on them.

3. Are weighted blankets safe for adults?

Based on the research on “Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket”:

The results reveal that the use of the 30 lb weighted blanket, in the lying down position, is safe as evidenced by the vital sign metrics*.

*Those metrics include the measuring of blood pressure, pulse rate, and pulse oximetry.

That said, weighted blankets aren’t for everyone. If you have any doubts, you should discuss them with your doctor before using one.

Weighted Blanket buying guide

Here is what you need to take into consideration when buying a weighted blanket:

1. Where to buy weighted blankets for adults

You can buy sensory blankets in brick and mortar and online stores like Amazon or Etsy.

2. Weighted blankets weight recommendations: how heavy should they be?

It depends on the user.

Some manufacturers recommend them to be around 10% of the user’s weight.

That means the blanket should weight 1lb for each 10lbs of the user plus one extra pound.

3. Which size should my blanket be?

It depends on personal preference and on what do you want to use it for.

If you’re going to use it for sleep, the blanket should be able to cover your body comfortably.

Keep in mind that the weight of the blanket depends on the weight of the user.

Thus, if you share a bed and also want to share your sensory blanket, you and your partner should be around the same weight.

If not, it might be better to buy individual blankets.

4. Materials and fillings

These blankets are filled with glass beads or small pellets to make them heavy, so they also tend to get a bit hot.

This is the reason why choosing a good fabric is important.

Me? I would go with cotton. Cotton is comfortable, breathable, keeps cool and is very easy to care for.

Keep in mind that in the long term you may need to wash and dry it.

Weighted Blankets Reviews

Before you start to read, be aware that the two most common complaints about weighted blankets (across manufacturers) are that they:

  • Tend to be smaller than the customer thought.
  • The pellets/ beads tend to shift around inside the quilted pockets.

Keep that in mind when making your decision.

Harkla Weighted Blankets

At a glance: #cotton #polly pellets #wash & dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of cotton.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses poly pellets.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes. The blanket is made of two pieces, so you can take off the exterior cover to wash and dry it.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • Lifetime money back guarantee.
    • 1% of each sale goes toward services and research for the University of Washington Autism Center.

2. What you should know

  • You might detect a slight chemical smell coming from the blanket. However, the smell shouldn’t last long, especially after a quick wash.
  • The size might be smaller than expected.

You can check for yourself these and other details (like the price) on Amazon.

Weighted Blanket by YnM for Adults

At a glance: #100% cotton #sand pellets #wash & dry #air dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of 100% cotton.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses odorless, non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, sand pellets.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes. The weighted inner layer is machine-washable. However, it’s better to air dry.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • The weighted inner layer and the duvet cover are sold separately: “In warm days, you can use the inner layer without cover, and in cold days you can add the warm removable cover to the inner layer.”

2. What you should know

  • Size especifications might no be exact. E.g., A 60×80″ blanket might come at 57×77″.
  • The finishing of the seams might not be perfect.

You can see for yourself these and other details (like the price) on Amazon.

Mosaic Weighted Blankets

At a glance: #100% cotton #polly pellets #wash & dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of 100% cotton.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, poly pellets.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes. It’s completely washable and dryable.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • The blankets are hand-made.
    • Made in the USA.

2. What you should know

  • The blankets’s pockets might be too large, which might cause the pellets to slide to the sides.

Weighted Blanket by Zonli

At a glance: #100% cotton #polly pellets #hand wash #air dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of 100% cotton.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses non-toxic poly pellets.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? No. It’s better to hand-wash it and dry flat.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.

2. What you should know

  • You might detect a slight chemical smell coming from the blanket. However, the smell shouldn’t last long, especially after a quick wash.

You can check for yourself these and other details (like the price) on Amazon.

The Magic Weighted Blanket in Luxurious Soft Chenille by The Magic Blanket

At a glance: #chenille #polly pellets #wash & dry #air dry

1. What you want to know

    • What is this blanket made of? Chenille. Although this brand also offers models in minky, cotton, and fleece.
    • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses non-toxic, hypo-allergenic poly pellets.
    • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes, but:
      • The blankets made of minky, cotton, flannel, or fleece can be machine washed and dried on low heat in the dryer.
      • The chenille blankets can also be machine washed, but the manufacturer recommends to air dry them.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • The blanket has a smooth, non-therapeutic look because it’s sewn without visible stitching.
    • Made in the USA.

2. What you should know

  • The blanket might be smaller than expected.
  • You might find the pellets to be a bit “noisy” when they shift around.

Weighted Blankets Plus

At a glance: #100% cotton #glass pellets #wash & dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of 100% cotton and cotton flannel.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses sugar-like glass beads.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes. You can wash and dry it.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • The blankets are sized for individual use.
    • Made in the USA.

2. What you need to know

  • The size of the blanket might be smaller than expected.
  • Keeping the weight even might prove a bit difficult because of the size of the pockets.

Adult Large Weighted Blanket by Sensory Goods

At a glance: #fleece flannel #sand pellets #wash & dry

1. What you want to know

  • What is this blanket made of? It’s made of fleece and flannel.
  • What does this blanket use as filling? It uses sand-like glass beads or plastic beads.
  • Can I machine wash this blanket? Yes. You can wash and dry it.
  • Can I chose the design? Yes. This brand offers multiple designs, sizes, and weights.
  • Other useful info:
    • From the manufacturer’s website: “Each WB is custom made with the Primary Pattern/ Color Fabric of your choice as well as the Complimentary Color Fabric of your choice.”
    • Made in the USA.

2. What you should know

  • The blankets’s pockets might be too large, which might cause the pellets to slide to the sides.
  • The size of the blanket might be smaller than expected.

You can see for yourself these and other details (like the price) on Amazon.

DIY Weighted Blanket

Maybe you prefer to make a weighted blanket yourself.

In that case, keep in mind that the materials might be a bit expensive.

This is especially true for the cotton fabric (you’ll need two pieces or one single piece large enough to fold) and the beads or pellets you use for the filling. You can check them on Amazon here.

Source

  • Brian Mullen BS, Tina Champagne MEd, OTR/L, Sundar Krishnamurty Ph.D., Debra Dickson APRN, BC & Robert X. Gao Ph.D. (2008) Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24:1, 65-89, http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J004v24n01_05
  • Chen H-Y, et al., Effect of deep pressure input on parasympathetic system in patients with wisdom tooth surgery, Journal of the Formosan Medical Association (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfma.2016.07.008

Last updated on November 30, 2017.