How to Use a Weighted Blanket

Do you toss and turn all night long? Can you not remember the last time you had a great night's sleep? You're not alone. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 Americans are not getting enough sleep regularly. And when you don't sleep enough, your body isn't able to function properly.

A weighted blanket is a long-time sleep aid that's been used to help people with insomnia, anxiety, autism, PTSD, or other conditions that may interfere with the quality of their sleep. In this blog, we'll discuss when, how, and why you should use a weighted blanket. Let's get started.

When should you use a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets have a variety of uses. Here are just some of the reasons you may consider using a weighted blanket.

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep quality
  • Mood improvement
  • Calming of the mind and body
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Restlessness
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Pain reduction (no medication)
  • PTSD
  • Panic disorders
  • Autism
  • Tourette's
  • OCD
  • And more!

Typically, weighted blanket users find relief for conditions related to pain, anxiousness, or tension. If you find yourself experiencing any of these, don't hesitate to try a weighted blanket out. It can help you get a better night's sleep and feel more rested.

As always, if you're concerned about using a weighted blanket or have an underlying medical condition, give your doctor a call before using any new product. This will help alleviate any apprehensions you have related to existing medical conditions. 

How to use a weighted blanket

If you've never used a weighted blanket, you may feel intimidated. Will you feel claustrophobic or smothered? What is it like sleeping under one for 7 to 8 hours a night? Can you still move around properly? Will you be comfortable? These are common questions.

Most people describe weighted blankets like being held in a gentle hug as they sleep. The blanket applies light and even pressure over your entire body. It often creates a deeply relaxing sensation, and you'll likely experience fewer awakenings throughout the night. The best part? There's nothing complicated about using a weighted blanket, which is why it's such a good solution for so many people. Once you crawl under it, you don't have to think about it. You'll fall fast asleep and stay asleep.

Weighted blankets look like normal blankets until you pick them up. You'll feel their weight immediately. This comes from the interior lining that's filled with evenly distributed weights such as plastic beads or pellets to give them their weight. Often, you can find them ranging from 3 pounds up to 25 or 30 pounds. You'll select a weighted blanket based on your personal weight, and we recommend visiting our buying guide to find out more.

For some, replacing the comforter on their bed with their weighted blanket is the perfect solution. However, others prefer to keep their comforter either on top or beneath their weighted blanket. Either is fine! It doesn't impact the effectiveness of your weighted blanket. Whether you prefer the aesthetic appeal of your comforter or you like the extra layer on you at night, your weighted blanket is the perfect addition.

If you like the idea of your weighted blanket serving as your new comforter, the one factor to keep in mind is whether you share a bed with a partner. If you do not, then it's no problem at all to swap out the two blankets.

However, if you do share a bed with your partner, then you'll want to keep the weight of your blanket in mind. Because weighted blankets are selected based on 10 percent of your body weight, you want to make sure it isn't too heavy for you or your partner. In fact, a weighted blanket that's too heavy may be less effective and counterproductive because it will cause your system more stress than it resolves. You could also get too hot, which will result in poor sleep.

Therefore, you should always go with a lighter weighted blanket if it will go across your entire bed and both partners will share it. For example, you weigh 150 pounds and your partner weighs 200 pounds. Typically, you would purchase a 15-pound blanket (10 percent of your body weight) and your partner would purchase a 20-pound blanket (10 percent of their body weight). However, if you intend to share a blanket, then you'll want to choose the 15-pound blanket, so the blanket isn't too heavy for you. A lighter blanket is always better than a heavier blanket.

Likewise, you can always purchase two smaller blankets that will go on each side of the bed (and will not be shared) to ensure each person has a properly weighted blanket for them.

When sleeping under the blanket itself, the main focus is keeping the majority of your body – from the chest down – under the blanket. Your feet can remain covered or uncovered depending on your personal preference. For best results, you would sleep on your back as this ensures that the blanket's weight is distributed evenly across your entire body.

And that's it! Having a great night's sleep is as simple as that.

Why does a weighted blanket work?

Weighted blankets use deep touch pressure to help with "proprioception." It helps to activate pressure points across your body and relax the nervous system by increasing serotonin and melatonin levels while decreasing cortisol.

Research into proprioception shows that is "relaxing and calming." This particular study concluded that it may be specifically beneficial to "children with autistic disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." While the study used a "squeeze machine," another effective way to get proprioceptive input is a weighted blanket.

It's one of the sensory tools that's long been used in psychiatric units because it helps calm distress. In the same way that you swaddle a newborn to help them feel snug and secure, weighted blankets are intended to simulate a comforting hug. This simulation helps to calm and settle the nervous system so you can get to sleep more quickly.

One 2015 study examined the specific effects of deep pressure stimulation from weighted blankets. The results showed a 33 percent reduction in stress, which was measured by physiological signs of arousal. Additionally, 63 percent of participants also reported feeling decreased anxiety, and 78 percent stated that they preferred using a weighted blanket as a way to increase calmness.

Should everyone use a weighted blanket?

Harvard Health Publishing notes that, for most healthy adults, there are few risks for trying weighted blankets. If you're interested in trying it as a sleep aid, go ahead! You may just find the solution to long-term challenges you've had with sleep.

However, some people should not use a weighted blanket unless they've checked with a trusted medical professional before doing so, including:

  • Individuals with sleep apnea
  • Individuals with certain other sleep disorder
  • Individuals with respiratory problems or other medicals conditions
  • Children

Your doctor can advise you on whether a weighted blanket is okay with your condition or for your child with their weight and size.

Is there anything else I should know?

A weighted blanket can help you with stress, relaxation, and anxiety, but it isn't magic. You must use it as part of a healthy sleep routine and that means continuing to follow other sleep hygiene recommendations. These include

Being consistent with your routine

Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This includes on the weekends. This is a habit that can improve your sleep health.

Maintaining your bedroom's environment

Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Many experts say that the best sleeping temperature is 65 degrees.

Remove electronic devices from your room

TVs, computers, and smartphones can be incredibly disruptive in your bedroom, especially if you use them before bed. These devices emit blue light, which can be disruptive to your natural sleep and wake cycle. Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.

Avoid consuming certain foods before bedtime

Are you someone who loves that "midnight" snack? Do your best to resist. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime to ensure you get the best night's sleep possible.

Get exercise

Being physically active during the day is one way you can ensure your body and mind are ready for sleep at night. If you find yourself tossing and turning, try to get out and get some exercise. You may be pleasantly surprised at how it changes your sleep at night.

Final thoughts

Those are our best tips on how, when, why, and who should use a weighted blanket. While it's not magic, Relax Eden weighted blankets come pretty close for most people. Get better rest and feel better each morning. For more information on our weighted blankets, you can visit here.