Remove Heaviness from Your Heart: How Can Weighted Blankets Reduce Anxiety

Remove Heaviness from Your Heart: How Can Weighted Blankets Reduce Anxiety

Some people have difficulty sleeping at night due to stress and countless worries. If you are one of the people who has counted more than a thousand sheep but is still wide awake, you need a solution to get you sleeping fast.

The newest approach that sets aside medications or medical procedures is through weighted blankets. Weighted blankets look like the usual thing but heavier. According to the advertisements of linen companies, weighted blankets can help reduce anxiety. The question becomes, is it for real?

What Are Weighted Blankets?

A weighted blanket is different from your common duvet. It has tiny plastic stuffing, called fillers, to produce more weight. Weighted blankets have different types of fabrics, like cotton, fleece, satin-cotton, and flannel.

A unique characteristic of weighted blankets is that they create balance weight distribution over the body. It is usually about 10 to 25 pounds more than the person’s body weight. As a general rule, the weight of the blanket should be about 10% of the user’s total body weight.

The Science of Weighted Blankets

There is still no solid empirical evidence as to how weighted blankets work. According to studies, it works under the theory of deep pressure touch (DPT). Deep pressure touch creates a satisfying, calming sensation, related to other forms of touch-based therapy like swaddling.

Deep touch pressure lowers stress and anxiety through triggering the autonomic nervous system (ANS) of the body. The ANS has two parts, the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The SNS is the body’s fight-or-flight center.

If a person is in a stressful situation, the SNS reacts, thus increasing the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. The PNSN is the calming center, where the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing slows down and return to normal.

Weighted blankets have many benefits, depending on the needs of an individual. Here are some of the therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets.

Improves Mood

Weighted blankets imitate a hug, which makes a stressed person relax. Hugging triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that lowers blood pressure and helps a person calm down.

According to recent research, gentle pressure allows the release of serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones that help elevate one’s mood.

Promotes Sound Sleep

Balance weight distribution from weighted blankets helps the brain to release melatonin, the sleep hormone. Melatonin is crucial for the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle of a person. It is also related to the production of serotonin, a known mood-regulating hormone.

The weighted blanket also creates a warm, fuzzy feeling. The coziness promotes a restful sleep, which allows the body and mind to rest and recover.

Decreases Anxiety

Weighted blankets produce a grounding feeling that gives a deep soothing effect. It is useful for those with chronic stress and anxiety.

According to studies, a weighted blanket helps lower nighttime cortisol level. Cortisol, the stress hormone of the body, is released when a person is stressed or anxious. Constant high cortisol level weakens the immune system and may cause various conditions like diabetes and gastric hyperacidity. It also makes a person prone to depression, insomnia, and anxiety disorders.

Through deep pressure touch stimulation, weighted blankets halt the release of cortisol. In return, happy hormones (dopamine and serotonin) are released.  As a result, once a person gets under a weighted blanket, the heart rate goes down, and breathing starts to normalize.

Improves Focus

One of the conditions that make people prone to anxiety attacks is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When a child is anxious, it also decreases the ability to focus. For this reason, their inability to finish a task makes them more restless and impulsive to stimuli.

Deep pressure from weighted blankets helps a restless child regain focus. It works by emphasizing on the sense of touch, which in turn decreases the perception of other sensory stimuli.

Alleviates Travel Stress

While most people enjoy travel, it is actually scary for some. Their fear of traveling induces high levels of stress. Usually, it comes with the fear of being confined to small spaces, such as claustrophobia.

A weighted blanket helps to soothe a stressed person during a flight, a car or boat ride. It triggers the release of serotonin, which makes a person feel calm. According to studies, about 75% of people who tried weighted blanket during travel confirmed that it helped them stay calm. Some even fell asleep.

How to Choose The Appropriate Blanket

A weighted blanket is a product designed to help children and adults to reduce stress and anxiety. A crucial factor for it to be effective is to choose the right weight, size, and fabric.


The recommended weight of the blanket is about 10 percent of a person’s total body weight. For children, doctors and therapists recommend adding 1 to 2 pounds to the computed 10% weight. For example, a child weighs 100 pounds. Calculated 10% is 10 pounds, plus another 2 pounds equal to a 12-pound blanket.

If you are doubtful about how to compute the right blanket weight, you may seek advice from your doctor or therapist. They will be able to prescribe the most efficient weight to produce the desired therapeutic effect.


For children, the size of the weighted blanket needs to be smaller than the bed. Common sizes available in the market are 42 to 60 inches long and 35 to 40 inches wide. Matched with the correct weight, it will give a balanced pressure on the child’s body without compromising his breathing.

The best weighted blanket for adults should be smaller than the bed. Adult sizes have numerous variants, which includes:

  • Twin size: 48 to 60 inches long and 36 to 41 wide
  • Full size: 78 inches long and 48 inches wide
  • Queen size: 78 to 80 inches long and 48 to 60 inches wide
  • King size: 78 to 87 inches long and 60 to 80 inches wide

Special sizes include blankets for couple and blankets for taller than usual individuals with heights of 6 feet and above. Still, the age, height, and size of the individual best determine the size of the weighted blanket to produce the desired effect.


The best blankets have natural fiber and are breathable. A popular choice is those made from 100% cotton. Fleece and satin-cotton are next in line. Fleece is best for the cold season, while satin-cotton is for touch-sensitive individuals. Here are the most common types of weighted blanket based on their fabric.

  • Cotton: Cotton: Most cotton blankets in the market have breathable fillers. It helps remove body heat during sleep. The cotton blanket is the best choice for people with tactile disorders. Moreover, they come in different patterns and designs, which makes them more appealing to young users.
  • Fleece: The fleece weighted blanket is best for kids who have autism and sensory problems. Fleece gives them a warm and cozy feeling that helps decrease anxiety faster than other fabric types.
  • Satin-cotton: A satin fabric is most suitable for those who prefer smooth tactile input and are heat-sensitive. Usually, high-quality cotton is on the other side for a more comfortable feel.

Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

Weighted blankets are generally safe and pose minimal to no harm for most individuals. However, so as not to cause anxiety, it is best to seek advice from your doctor or therapist. Here are conditions that may need a consultation first before using weighted blankets.

  • Chronic heart and respiratory conditions: Extra weight, especially during sleep, could worsen the symptoms. Common concerns involve medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
  • Menopause: Women undergoing menopause have episodes of hot flashes. Added heat and weight from the blanket will make a menopausal woman more anxious, instead of keeping her calm. A possible solution is to choose a blanket with cool and breathable fabric.
  • Temperature regulation conditions: People who get easily hot and sweaty may just be irritated under the blanket. This scenario is common if you live in places with extreme summers, like in Australia or the Middle East.
  •  Sleep apneas: More often than not, individuals with sleep apnea also have underlying respiratory problems.

The Bottom Line

Remember that the use of weighted blankets should be directed to its therapeutic effects. It is a product aimed to promote relaxation and possibly, reduce anxiety and stress. While the soothing effect of weighted blankets does not last long, it is one of the best choices to help a person calm down during a moment of heightened stress and anxiety.

So, it’s better to educate yourself on its benefits and how to choose for the right weighted blanket. It will not only help you with your anxiety problems, but you can also share this knowledge with those people going through the same situation.

Author Bio

Sarah Smith is a writer and an aspiring health consultant. She writes guidelines and reviews on health and therapeutic products sold online. Her recent pieces include the comparison between different weighted blanket sizes – king size versus a queen size weighted blanket. She loves the beach, food, and sunsets.