General Weighted Blanket Questions
How heavy should a weighted blanket be?
Three are so many options available when it comes to both the size and weight of a weighted blanket... How do you pick the right one? You can always try our interactive Sleep Quiz; but for more of an explanation, read on!
For a "classic" weighted blanket size (like our 60x80 in. blankets that fit the top of a full/queen bed), the general consensus is to look for 8-12% of your body weight. When considering our 15lb or 20lb full/queen options, we generally recommend about 10% as a good rule of thumb.
The ideal blanket is meant to be relaxing, lull you to sleep, and calm your nerves; it shouldn’t be so heavy as to be uncomfortable. Make sure to consider what position you sleep in: if you’re a back or stomach sleeper you can probably handle a heavier blanket, while a side-sleeper might opt for something lighter. You also should consider any joint sensitivity, such as in the knees, hips, or back, in which case a better option would be something on the lighter side. And no matter what, whether the blanket will be used for an adult or a child, you should always be sure that the overall weight is something that that person will be able to move easily.
With that said, in the end it comes down to personal preference. Some people find they really need the extra weight to fully benefit from the pressure and feel the soothing effects. Maybe you’ve tried your partner’s 15lb or 20lb blanket, not expecting to like it because it doesn't follow the "10% rule" for you, but you actually loved it and that extra cozy hug it provides!
Our most popular size is actually our 12lb Weighted Throw Blanket. Our lightest blanket overall, it actually feels like one of our heavier options because the weighted is concentrated in a smaller area. This makes it the easiest to maneuver, but also creates a very satisfying weight on the body.
By the same token, with a larger blanket (like our king size), most people prefer the feel of a heavier overall weight, since it's spread out over the larger area. This is also the case for couples who both want to share a blanket; 15lbs in a king size might not give much of a sensation all all, but our 25lb weight, spread between the two of you, may be just right.
Based on the density, our blankets from lightest to heaviest are as follows:
- 15lb full/queen
- 25lb king
- 12lb throw
- 20lb full/queen
The type of blanket filling also comes into play, because it affects the overall feel. Baloo's blankets are 100% cotton and plastic-free, filled with tiny glass beads -- no polyester or plastic. Some brands use plastic pellets for the weight; these are bigger and less dense than glass beads, which are about the size of a grain of sand. A blanket containing glass beads will be thinner and less bulky than one filled with plastic; this allows the blanket with glass beads to hug your body more closely.
There are a few concerns that shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to weighted blankets. They should never be used on babies or toddlers, and children should always be able to lift the blanket on their own, as a safety precaution. "Too heavy" does exist. But once again, it’s a matter of how comfortable it makes you feel. If you’re afraid a weighted blanket will be too heavy, start with a lighter one, and you can always move up from there.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is designed to add a gentle weighted pressure to the body, which can soothe and calm the body and mind. Sizes and weights can range; smaller, lighter blankets for children can weigh as little as five pounds, while larger blankets can weigh 25 pounds or more. The weight typically comes from tiny glass or plastic beads that are sewn into pockets in the blanket. (At Baloo, we use only 100% glass beads - never plastic!) The added weight has been shown to have therapeutic properties that calm anxiety, ease insomnia, reduce stress, improve sleep, and encourage relaxation.
Although their popularity appears to have exploded recently, weighted blankets have actually been around for decades in the medical community. Originally used to treat anxiety and autism spectrum disorders, it was noted that a heavier blanket often calmed users and helped them sleep more soundly. However these benefits aren't limited to those seeking help with a specific medical need; weighted blankets are now beloved by many for their help with general relaxation and comfort, as well as relief from stress, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and even PTSD.
Baloo's unique construction and double-quilted stitch pattern helps to create an even distribution of the weight across the entire blanket. Our design prevents “pooling” of the weighted glass beads and allows them to contour to the body, creating a hug-like sensation that is calming without being restrictive. We also use a premium cotton exterior and cotton batting inside the pockets, for a soft, luxurious feeling.
Do weighted blankets work?
For many, weighted blankets are a powerful, affordable tool for self-healing. Weighted blankets work by energizing your body’s natural ability to respond positively and effectively to stress. The gentle pressure of the blanket mimics the sensation of deep touch pressure (DTP; also commonly written as deep pressure touch). DTP is shown to have therapeutic effects on the body, specifically our parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, both of which form part of the nervous system.
The parasympathetic is often called the “rest and digest” system and is responsible for conserving energy and slowing the heart rate. The sympathetic is our “fight or flight” system, triggered in stressful situations. DTP affects each of these systems differently:
- It increases parasympathetic activity, thereby slowing down the heart rate and calming the nervous system.
- It decreases sympathetic activity by decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) levels, pacifying your fight or flight response, and relaxing the body.
Consider the body’s biological response to being nervous: increased heart rate, shortness of breath or hyperventilation, increased sweat production, plus countless other internal and external signals. These are reactions triggered by the built-in alarm in our nervous system. Many of us already have a subconscious toolkit of natural responses to these changes: deep or mindful breathing techniques, meditation or visualization, mindful relaxation of our muscles, counting sheep, or even talking a short walk or doing a routine task. In much the same way, deep touch pressure can help us regulate our body’s chemistry naturally and promote calmness and balance—inside and out.
Deep touch pressure also encourages the brain to release certain neurotransmitters that have an overall calming effect on the body. DTP encourages the production of serotonin, known as the happy hormone, which regulates our mood and plays an important role in our feeling of wellbeing. Serotonin also leads to melatonin production, which is what controls our sleep/wake cycles, thereby helping to balance our sleeping patterns. All of these chemicals work together to relax the nervous system, reduce anxiety, and stimulate healthy, restful sleep.
In order to create the effect of DTP, a weighted blanket should cover you and contour to your body. The body’s reaction to the comfort and pressure of the blanket isn’t just superficial; the weighted blanket mimics a hug, which floods our bodies with positive response signals. Studies show that this sensation helps reduce blood pressure and slows the heart rate. The chemical and physical reactions to deep touch pressure provided by weighted blankets work in perfect physical and physiological harmony. Once wrapped in the comforting hug of the weighted blanket, energy and stress levels decrease, mood-boosting hormones increase, and the body relaxes naturally.
For further reading on the research behind weighted blankets:
NYTimes: Weighted Blankets for Sounder Sleep?
A Swedish study found that men and women with depression or other mental health ills slept better when using the popular therapeutic aids.
Abstract from the Journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health
Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket
Abstract from the Journal of Complementary Medicine
The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress
How do I use a weighted blanket?
There isn’t really one right or wrong way to use a weighted blanket. You can layer it with your regular bedding to sleep under, rest it on your lap while at your desk, or snuggle with it on the couch while you unwind. With a smaller option like the 12lb Throw, you can even stand with it wrapped around your shoulders.
Weighted blankets administer deep pressure touch to the body, which sets off a number of positive responses in the brain, releasing mood-bursting serotonin, while lowering the heart rate. This physical-mental-emotional connection can create a sense of calm, improve anxiety, and help quiet the body's stress responses.
Even if you don't suffer from diagnosed anxiety or severe stress, a weighted blanket can still be a rich addition to your life, just by providing access to deeper relaxation. They are also a wonderful addition to a meditation or yoga routine.
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our mental and physical health and well-being, and one of the most profound benefits of a weighted blanket is to those who suffer from insomnia. We are gratified to hear from so many customers who have finally been able to sleep, after years of struggle. But to be in need of a better night’s sleep, you don’t necessarily have to suffer from insomnia. We all have a profound need for sleep, and sadly most of us don't get enough. A weighted blanket can help you fall asleep more easily, sleep more deeply, and awaken less often.
If you’re a nervous traveler, have trouble sleeping in strange places, or like to bring something familiar with you on the road, a weighted blanket is like taking a little natural travel-therapy with you, for a quick access to some calming hormones and a soothing embrace.
How do I layer a weighted blanket with my other bedding?
Baloo's Weighted Blankets are designed to add weight, but not warmth, so that you can use them year-round, in any climate. The cotton exterior feels cool and crisp, and the 100% cotton interior and glass microbeads allow air to flow freely without trapping heat. As such they are a welcome addition to your already existing bedding.
We recommend laying your Baloo on top of the sheets, but under your comforter or other blankets. This keeps your weighted blanket close to your body and also allows you to easily add or remove layers as needed for warmth. But it's really a matter of personal preference and what feels the most comfortable to you!
A note about size: Our Weighted Blankets are traditionally sized to rest just on TOP of your bed, without much overhang. However, if you'd prefer something larger that drapes over the edge of the bed and looks more like regular bedding, we also offer our unique Weighted Comforter size.
Does it matter if I sleep on my side, back, or stomach?
Weighted blankets work equally well for both side sleepers and those who sleep on their back or stomach.
For side sleepers who are choosing between two weights that are otherwise the same - for instance our Full/Queen 15lb or 20lb options - we would suggest trying the lighter weight. If you sleep on your back or stomach, then this is generally less of a consideration.
Why are weighted blankets more expensive than regular bedding?
Like all bedding, when it comes to the weighted blankets on the market, there is a wide price range. There is good reason for this; it comes down to the materials, the workmanship, and even the priorities and customer service of the companies. Plastic pellets are much cheaper than glass beads; polyester batting is less expensive than 100% cotton. Chemical-free certifications, careful stitching and construction (ensuring that the glass microbeads are evenly and securely distributed), extra-soft premium cotton, and fair labor practices all go into the production cost. The size and weight have a dramatic impact on this as well.
Baloo Living is an American company founded on the principles of respect for our bodies, our communities, and our planet. Inspired by the bodies' innate healing abilities and natural balance, we place a premium on selecting only the highest quality materials. When it comes to something as important as our physical and mental health, and as personal as sleep, we believe our bedding should be made with only the best.
A quick comparison to products on the market will show that most quality weighted blankets will start in the lower $100s and can go up to $250 and more. There are so many factors when researching which weighted blanket is best for you and your needs, but remember to read thoroughly before buying; some blankets aren’t machine-washable, and many brands that are advertised as "100% cotton" are actually filled with polyester batting, which is hotter and less breathable than cotton.
Even though a brand might have a higher price tag at first, it could end up being a better investment in the long run. At Baloo, we guarantee our quality and workmanship, so you can plan on buying a weighted blanket once, to last.
Are weighted blankets good for couples?
Weighted blankets are just as good for couples as they are for individuals, as long as you take both partner’s preferences into consideration. If you're thinking of trying a weighted blanket, we suggest speaking with your partner first, to find out whether it's something they'd like to try as well. Either way, we have options for you!
If you'd both like to try it, then you could choose to purchase either one large blanket to share, or two smaller ones so that you each have your own.
If you sleep in a Full or Queen size bed and want to share one blanket, we suggest our Full/Queen Weighted Comforter. Measuring 90x90 inches, it is the same size as a traditional comforter -- big enough so that no one has to hog the covers. It's available in both 15lb and 20lb weight options. When in doubt, or for couples who would each tend to choose different weights, we recommend going with the lighter option.
If you have a King size bed and want to share one blanket, you have two options: both the King size Weighted Blanket and the King size Weighted Comforter will work. The Weighted Blanket is 80x87 inches, which fits just the top of the bed, but is still large enough to share. The Weighted Comforter is larger, at 92x108 inches. Both of these are available in just one 25lb weight option. (That weight is spread over a larger area, so it actually feels in between our 15lb and 20lb Full/Queen blankets.)
Finally, a popular option for a couple sharing a bed is to get two 12lb Weighted Throws. We hear from many couples who love this because the Throws are lighter and easier to maneuver than one larger blanket, and you can each have the flexibility of having your own.
Are weighted blankets beneficial for children?
Both children and adults can find the snug pressure of a weighted blanket to be soothing, and to create a sense of calm and stillness.
Does your child have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep? In addition to being incredibly important for a child's health and development, sleep (or lack thereof) can have a huge impact on the whole family! Whether this is caused by separation anxiety, nightmares, or other problems, a weighted blanket may help.
The weight of the blanket can help your child’s anxiety by triggering their nervous system to lower their heart rate and slow their breathing. It can also prevent tossing and turning, thereby helping your child stay still and go to sleep more quickly. Studies have shown the weight of the blanket may reduce fidgeting and squirming at bedtime, which can be especially helpful to children with ADHD.
Weighted blankets can also help with focus and mental clarity during the day. They have long been used to help children with autism spectrum disorder who may not be able to focus during the day or sleep at night due to noise disruption.
Is there a minimum age for children to use a weighted blanket?
Children can use weighted blankets; many children love them! But you should always exercise care when selecting one for your child and when first using it.
When you purchase a weighted blanket, the standard rule is that the blanket should weigh about 5-10% of your child's body weight.
Weighted blankets should never be used on infants or small children under the age of four. For older children, you should provide adult supervision, especially at first; and always be sure that the child is strong enough to remove the weighted blanket if needed. You should also ensure that your child does not sleep with the weighted blanket over their face.
When in doubt, speak with your pediatrician, especially if your child suffers from skin allergies, blood circulation issues, epilepsy, or heart or breathing problems.
Can I use a weighted blanket if I'm pregnant?
Sleep is crucial for pregnant women, but can be harder to come by. A recent study confirmed that pregnant women experience a decrease in night-time sleep, especially during the last trimester.
The good news is, your weighted blanket can help and is perfectly safe for pregnancy. As always, if you have any doubts or concerns, we always recommend speaking to your doctor.
The benefits of using a weighted blanket during pregnancy can include:
- Easing anxiety and stress. Hormones, as well as physical and life changes can lead to higher anxiety for pregnant moms. The sensation of a weighted blanked provides a therapeutic way to soothe racing thoughts, slow your breathing, and help you to find rest and calm.
- Reducing inflammation. Swelling is another unpleasant side effect of pregnancy, due to a dramatic increase of fluids in your body. A weighted blanket can actually help reduce swelling and inflammation of the legs, hands, and feet.
- Relief from Restless Legs Syndrome. Studies have found that weighted blankets can also help reduce RLS symptoms.
- Deep Pressure Stimulus (DPS). Weighted blankets promote Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) therapy. The gentle pressure of the weighted blanket increases the body's serotonin production – a chemical found in the body that helps with relaxation and melatonin production. Deep pressure stimulation typically also provides tactile sensory feedback in the form of hugging, cuddling, and comforting touch. The overall benefits of DPS include increased levels of happiness, better, more restful sleep, fewer feelings of stress and anxiety, better mental clarity, and feelings of being soothed.
What medical conditions have weighted blankets been used to support?
For decades, hospitals and clinics have used weighted blankets to help patients suffering from anxiety, including children, as a means to effectively calm their nerves. In our increasingly anxious society, it is not uncommon for everyone to experience some level of anxiety in their daily life. As many as 40 million Americans are affected by more serious and chronic anxiety disorders, many of which require the intervention of a professional or medication. For anyone experiencing any level of anxiety, weighted blankets give the option of a natural way to help ease their symptoms.
Anxiety can strike at any time of day, which is why the flexibility and versatility of weighted blankets is so critical. While medications are necessary and invaluable for many people, weighted blankets do not require a schedule or waiting period. Any time an anxiety attack surfaces, the grounding, calming hug of the weighted blanket is never far away.
One of the most popular uses of weighted blankets outside a clinical setting is reducing and easing insomnia. For those who toss and turn or wake up periodically throughout the night, a weighted blanket provides the same snug comfort that a baby feels when they are swaddled in their crib before drifting off to sleep. The firm but gentle pressure created by a weighted blanket is a signal to the brain to release various neurotransmitters, including melatonin, which is in charge of synchronizing our circadian rhythms. This means it times and regulates our sleep/wake cycles. Using a weighted blanket can help your body adopt a more regular and reliable sleeping schedule, and should ease the strain of insomnia, encouraging your body to give in to sleep. As you start to sleep more routinely and naturally, your overall health can improve greatly, and you should notice more energy in your day-to-day life.
Weighted blankets have also been shown to encourage the production of serotonin, which significantly impacts feelings of tranquility and creates a sense of peace, helping to stabilize mood and calm us down.
Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Issues, ADD/ADHD:
One of the original applications of weighted blankets was calming and soothing children with autism spectrum disorders, and they are still used today. For children experiencing sensory issues, autism spectrum disorders, and ADD/ADHD, a weighted blanket continues to be a popular, natural tool for calming the mind and relaxing the body. World renowned autism researcher Dr. Temple Grandin published a landmark 1999 study about the positive behavioral and physiological effects of deep pressure touch on children with autism. Weighted blankets provide this same deep pressure she talks about.
Good old-fashioned stress from work and life can have enormous effect on our health over time. While stress is a fact of life, the amount and intensity of stress is something we can control. Adding a weighted blanket to your daily routine can help keep stress at bay and dramatically reduce stress levels when they begin to spike. The deep touch pressure calms many high-energy functions of the body, prompting a relaxed heart rate and deep breathing. Just as we would help destress a child with physical touch, we as adults can experience that same cozy feeling under the embrace of a weighted blanket.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is most commonly associated with veterans; however, PTSD can stem from any stressful event such as a car wreck or violent assault and effects millions of people. PTSD is comprised of a cluster of issues, many of which are addressed by a weighted blanket. The feelings of security brought on by the weighted hug of the blanket, as well as the release of mood-lifting serotonin, can help soothe and calm sufferers.
As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder that can cause serious pain throughout a person's body. Emotional distress typically comes with the condition. Given the low threshold of pain for a person with fibromyalgia, sleep issues can add to the lack of emotional well-being.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors can help their patients manage the symptoms they suffer. That's routinely done with medications and self-management techniques that include exercising and stress management. There's another way of helping to manage fibromyalgia, and that's done naturally with a weighted blanket.
Weighted Blankets have been used by occupational therapists for years. That relaxed feeling results in the body producing serotonin, melatonin and oxytocin. These are what tell your body that it's time for a safe and restful night of sleep.
Depression is a debilitating mental ailment that exhibits itself in many forms. A variety of therapies are available to treat depression. Weighted blankets are not a cure, but they can be a tool to help, as part of a treatment plan formed in partnership with your doctor.
One crucial way to help combat depression is by introducing small changes in your life. Studies have shown that those sleeping with a weighted blanket at night may sleep better and experience fewer symptoms associated with depression than those sleeping without it. Weighted blankets promote relaxation by providing a deep pressure touch. The physical connection can have positive effects on the hormones controlling the nervous system, affecting both moods and depression levels.
Other recent studies have shown that 78% of people preferred weighted blankets as a useful and straightforward technique to aid with depression. Weighted blankets produce deep pressure stimulation that can help mitigate anxiety, a significant contributor to depression.
Who should not use a weighted blanket?
Although weighted blankets are generally safe, there are important factors to consider.
Weighted blankets should never be used on infants or small children under the age of four. For older children, you should provide adult supervision, especially at first; and always be sure that the child is strong enough to remove the weighted blanket if needed. You should always ensure that your child does not sleep with the weighted blanket over their face. When in doubt, speak with your child's pediatrician, especially if your child suffers from skin allergies, blood circulation issues, epilepsy, or heart or breathing problems.
For adults, a weighted blanket will often help you get a good night’s sleep; but if you are considering using a weighted blanket in combination with treatment for a medical condition, it’s important that you talk with your doctor to ensure you use the correct size and weight, as well as the appropriate duration of use.
If you have diabetes, difficulty breathing (including sleep apnea, asthma, or COPD), blood pressure issues, or poor circulation, we recommend speaking with your physician before using a weighted blanket. If you have claustrophobia or cleithrophobia, a weighted blanket may not be right for you.