Along with pillow sprays and breathing exercise s, 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 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
Pros: This was the most luxurious feeling of the weighted blankets we tried. It's made from seven layers, with the polyester pad making it feel more sumptuous than others, which do tend to feel like glass beads in a blanket, whereas 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.
Cons: The main con is that it's only available in 7kg, which makes it suitable for adults weighing between 55kg and 80kg. Otherwise, we can't fault it!
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!
Cons: It's not the warmest of blankets, so our tester put a duvet on top, which did slightly ruin the aesthetic. You can put it on top of your duvet though, if you prefer.
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. Machine washable, dryer-safe, 30-day refund if you don’t like it.
Pros: 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.
Cons: The throws and blankets look like ‘raw’ duvets so to complete the aesthetic or if you want to sleep with them next to your skin, you really need the bespoke linen covers, from £84, which have ties to keep your throw in place. They come in stylish Scandi-style colours with matching pillowcases and make for a beautifully cool and calm experience.
The spec: Available in 7kg, 9kg and 3kg for kids, made from microfibre, filled with glass beads, cotton cover available, £35, machine washable
Pros: 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.
Cons: Despite it being the recommended weight for her, our tester found that the 7kg option was a little light and woke up in the middle of the night no longer under the blanket, so it didn't help her stop wriggling in the night nor stop her from waking several times. Another thing to note is that without the cover on, this doesn't feel particularly luxurious.
The spec: Available in 6.8kg and 9.1kg, filled with glass beads, soft fluffy cover included, machine washable
Pros: 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.
Cons: The only issue with this is that it doesn't stay in its cover very well when used as a throw. You tie it to the fluffy cover with little strings that attach to loops in the corner of the cover, but unless you're lying flat, the beaded blanket does migrate and it's hard to shake it back into place because it's so heavy.
Spec: 7kg, made of woven cotton, no cover available, machine washable
Pros: 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.
Cons: As lovely as the natural cream colour is, it is not the easiest to clean, and the price tag makes it quite the investment. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a cover and the sizing makes finding the right duvet topper difficult. It can be machine washed at 30°C and tumble dried if your drum can handle it. Otherwise, a trip to the laundrette is needed.
MORE GLOSS: Do we sleep better naked? Here's what happened when we tried it for a week