There are a lot of products out there promising to help you get a good night’s sleep, but weighted blankets actually have some scientific backing. Developed by occupational therapists as a tool for anxiety and stress relief, weighted blankets are essentially big hugs that simulate deep pressure stimulation, which reduces cortisol levels and increases serotonin to calm the nervous system. They’ve also become a popular way for insomniacs, stressed out sleepers and self-proclaimed “bad sleepers” to get some shut eye.
But the right blanket for you depends on a lot of different factors. The type and weight of filling, size options and whether or not it’s hypoallergenic are all key elements to consider when shopping for the best weighted blanket for you or your little one. And of course, the price is important too — some are more affordable than others.
We consulted experts in the field of sleep, relaxation and sensory integration to learn more about how and why weighted blankets work, as well as what factors to look for when shopping for one. I spoke with New York City-based psychiatry and internal medicine specialist Yung Park, Denver-based medical researcher Kathryn Eron and Jerusalem-based occupational therapist Holly Peretz to get their tips for what to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect blanket.
The first thing to think about is the outer layer — some have soft fleece or cotton, while others are made from eco-friendly materials like hemp or organic cotton. Then there’s the fill, which can be glass or plastic beads, microfill (a polyester that’s denser than down) and other options. Glass beads are the most common, but they can be pricier than other options. The weight and fabric should be soft on the skin, but also durable enough for repeated use. Look for blankets with grid-like stitching that keep the fill evenly distributed.
Another factor to think about is the blanket’s weight, which should be 10 percent of your body weight. That’s the general rule of thumb, but many people find that a higher or lower amount is more comfortable. Luckily, there are plenty of sizing options, including full and queen sizes, as well as child-friendly versions for kids.
The Bearaby Napper, for instance, offers a variety of weights from 5 to 30 lbs and also comes in a smaller version for adults called the YnM Chunky Knit, which is machine washable and has an easy guide for selecting the perfect weight. The Luxome Weighted Blanket, on the other hand, doesn’t offer as many options for sizing and weight, but its outer cover is soft and cozy to the touch, and it looks stylish in addition to being machine washable. It’s also made by an ethical company that cares about sustainability.