If stress and nighttime anxiety regularly disrupt your slumber, this bedding upgrade could be a game-changer

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Along with pillow sprays  and  breathing exercises, weighted blankets are a key player in an insomniacs 'get to sleep' tool kit.

Weighted blankets are generally filled with glass beads, although heavy woven cotton ones are rising in popularity recently. They recreate the feeling of being held or hugged, which is just as comforting as it sounds (you can also now buy  weighted robes, for pre-bed relaxation !).

Troubled sleepers swear by them for helping combat stress and anxiety, to relax both body and mind for a more peaceful sleep. In fact, a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine  reported that people who suffer from insomnia alongside depression, anxiety or ADHD slept better when they used a weighted blanket, plus felt less depressed and anxious.

If you toss and turn in bed, a heavy blanket (they usually weigh around 6kg or 12lb for an adult) may be the marginal gain that brings a more restful night's sleep.

How do weighted blankets work?

Rising levels of anxiety and insomnia have contributed to the boom in weight blankets, but they've been used medically for decades, traditionally to calm children with autism and ADHD. A  2010 study  in the British Medical Journal found that children with ADHD fell asleep faster when using a weighted blanket plus improved attention levels the next day at school.

Physically, the gentle weight helps ground your body and encourage stillness, which is particularly helpful when you’re trying to get to sleep.

The weight also has a positive hormonal impact, helping to calm anxious or active minds. "Studies show that applying gentle pressure – a technique known as Deep Touch Pressure therapy (DTP) - can help reduce nighttime levels of stress hormone cortisol by 30 per cent as well as promote the release of dopamine and serotonin by 30 per cent," explains Sam Hochland, founder of weighted blanket brand Mela.

You might think that a load of glass beads inside a blanket would be on the noisy side, but they're generally made with anti-rustle pellets to stop this. Some models such as Gravity Blanket may be filled with polyester or plastic beads and some come with polyester covers. If you are after an eco choice, it's worth checking the spec for natural and recyclable materials.

Can you share a weighted blanket?

If you share your bed with a partner, it's recommended you have a weighted blanket to yourself, they're designed for individual use because it's calibrated for your weight. The larger the blanket the more consideration is involved on how to clean it.  Baloo  makes them in sizes right up to an 11kg super king and a large double bed comforter. They advise taking them to the laundry to spare your washing machine drum.

Are weighted blankets warm?

If you find thick winter duvets too hot, the idea of a weighted blanket might sound stifling, but because they distribute the weight evenly they aren't overly warm. It's sometimes recommended you have your weighted blanket as your only blanket but if you feel the cold, it goes under or over your duvet as an extra layer, depending on whether it has a washable cover.

How much does a weighted blanket weigh?

A weighted blanket should weigh between ten and 12 per cent of your body weight, according to Sam Hochland. "This helps you get the right amount of pressure, without feeling restricted," he says. For most adults, that's around a six-to-nine kg blanket.

What do weighted blankets feel like?

Other than heavy, they feel like a normal blanket. Many come with a cover, with little corner ties to keep it in place inside the cover and stop it sagging to one corner. If you're claustrophobic you might not like the sensations of a weighted blanket. One of our testers reported that it felt rather like in a hotel bed in which the duvet has been tucked in at the bottom.

It's worth noting that weighted blankets don’t work with normal duvet covers. They need to be attached to a cover with ties inside and the blanket itself need to be fitted with special loops, otherwise your weighted blanket will bunch up inside the cover. Most of those we tried came with their own washable cover, but because the blanket itself is often not standard duvet size, you may be limited as to what you can cover it with – important if you have a specific interior design preference in your bedroom!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a stomach, side, starfish or back sleeper, weighted blankets are suitable for anyone’s sleep style.

How do you wash weighted blankets?

The covers can be washed as you'd wash any duvet cover. The blanket itself can also be placed in your washing machine, as long as your machine doesn't have a weight limit. If it does you'll need to take it to the launderette.

Keen to see if weighted blankets could really make a difference, we put them through their paces. Read on for our verdict.

Weighted blanket reviews

The super snuggy one: Oodie Blue Weighted Blanket, £59

The spec: Available in three weights - 4.5kg, 6.8kg and 9kg and filled with glass beads. The dimensions are 198 x 121cm

Our verdict: Oodie has gained slight cult social media status for their cosy and snuggly hooded blankets that you can wear around the house (and out and about if you fancy), and the same principle applies to their weighted blanket that feels velvety soft. It comes in two colours (sadly none of the fun prints that the Oodie wearable blankets do such as sausage dogs, avocados, tacos and tie-dye) but cosy and warm nonetheless.

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To help you fall back to sleep:  Emma Hug Weighted Blanket, from £69.30

The spec: Available in 7kg only, made from seven layers of cotton, microfibre and a polyester pad, filled with fine glass beads, bamboo cover available for around £25, machine washable

Our verdict: Where as some weighted blankets feel like glass beads in a blanket,  this has more of a fluffy duvet feel. When you put the silky bamboo cover on, this is a great weighted blanket for keeping you cool if you've got a warm bedroom. Our tester still woke up in the night with this weighted blanket, but found that she drifted back off again within a few minutes thanks to feeling swaddled, whereas it would usually take 15 minutes or more to get back to sleep.

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The one for kids: John Lewis Star Weighted Blanket, £38.25

The spec: Available in two weights - 2kg and 5kg and made from cotton. Machine washable on a cool temperature.

Our verdict:  - this is ideal for kids aged 3 years and older but it’s important to check that your child can remove the blanket by themselves before using it.  And the star print will match any style of decor.

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To keep you still in the night: Ayela Luxe Cotton Knit Weighted Blanket, £275

The spec: Available in 6kg and 7kg. Made from tight weave cotton, no glass pellets, no covers, machine washable

Pros: This is the ideal blanket for the style-conscious among us. It looks like any other minimalist, Scandi vibes cable knit neutral blanket, but has all the power of a weighted one thanks to ultra-thick woven cotton. When our tester slept under this they didn't move all night, waking up in the exact same position they went to sleep up, without waking up during the night. Dreamy!

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The best eco-luxe option:  Baloo Weighted Throw, from £138

The spec: The throw is the same size as the surface of a single bed and weighs 5.4kg. Smaller coloured blankets are available for kids (4kg) and larger blankets for adults in king and super king (up to 11.3kg) plus weighted comforters or bedspreads. You can also buy bespoke linen covers, from £84, which have ties to keep your throw in place. Machine washable, dryer-safe, 30-day refund if you don’t like it.

Our verdict: The Baloo claims to be the only quilted 100 per cent cotton weighted throw and as an ethical carbon neutral company they have gone the extra mile with chemical-free cotton and dyes and no plastic liners in the quilting which some blankets have. Plus, they are supremely giftable, arriving in plastic-free packaging with their own tote bag. We tested the throw (essentially a single weighted blanket) and found that the quilted cotton had a lovely soft feel. It was easy to sling on in front of the TV as to drape over our duvet. We found that for hot sleepers, this was a cool, breathable option in an impressive range of sizes and weights. It is the only brand we’ve found to make weighted comforters (bedspreads) that look very chic.

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Best budget weighted blanket: Silentnight Wellbeing Weighted Blanket, from £45

The spec: Available in 7kg, 9kg and 3kg for kids, made from microfibre, filled with glass beads, cotton cover available, £35, machine washable

Our verdict: Pricewise, this can't be beaten, especially given it doesn't feel hugely different to the more expensive offerings we tried once it's inside the cotton cover. This is the only blanket of the ones we tried that had one specifically designed for kids, which is a big plus as they're great for calming children with ADHD.

Children aside, if you're not sure a weighted blanket is for you and want to try one without parting with too much cash, this is a good option. It definitely helped our tester fall asleep easier; her mind might usually race when she first gets into bed, the feeling of being cocooned slowed her brain and her heart rate right down to a calm level ready for slumber.

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Best fleecy-feel weighted blanket: Echor Luxe Weighted Blanket, £109.99

The spec: Available in 6.8kg and 9.1kg, filled with glass beads, soft fluffy cover included, machine washable

Our verdict: This weighted blanket comes with an ultra-soft, fluffy cover that makes it look more like a throw than a traditional weighted blanket, so it's ideal for cuddling up on the sofa as well as having on your bed. Our tester found they slept soundly under this and would happily swap it for their usual duvet, staying nice and warm under it.

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For a chic weighted blanket:  Eve The Weighted Blanket, £199

Spec: 7kg, made of woven cotton, no cover available, machine washable

Our verdict: Unlike most weighted blankets, which use beads this is made of 100 per cent tightly woven cotton (think the look of a cosy jumper), which ensures that the weight and pressure are evenly distributed across your body, making the difference between a slightly overbearing sleep and a comforting snooze.

It’s ultra-soft and keeps you at the perfect temperature throughout the night. Our tester slept with this over her regular duvet and never got too hot. The overall look is very premium – the type of blanket you’d want to have on display. You won’t want to move it from room to room because it’s far too heavy. Our tester found she didn't toss and turn, or wake up in the night with this and noticed a significant improvement in her mood, telling us that after three weeks of use, she feels less anxious and tired.

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