July 30, 2020
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Adrian Pristas, M.D. contributes to topics such as Sleep Medicine.
For many of us, getting a good night’s sleep proves to be challenging these days. With a never-ending news cycle and our “normal” schedules taking a complete 180-degree turn, our minds are often running several miles a minute.
Being swaddled in a heavy blanket may seem trivial, but it could help to ease your mind and body. While science hasn’t proven the ability of weighted blankets to solve sleep issues, a small number of studies have demonstrated their impact. According to one small study, 63 percent of subjects experienced lower anxiety after using a weighted blanket, while 78 percent believed the blanket to be a calming agent.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is a heavy blanket—weighing 10–30 pounds—stuffed with plastic pellets, and is intended to give the feeling of a warm hug. This theory, also known as deep pressure therapy, is believed to cause a shift in your nervous system and create a more calming, soothing sensation throughout the body.
“Weighted blankets have become a popular sleep aid because they help your body to produce endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ that allow you to feel comfortable and safe,” says Adrian Pristas, M.D., corporate medical director, Centers for Sleep Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health. “Additionally, the chemicals melatonin and serotonin are increased and provide a sense of calm and peace while sleeping.”
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket
- Choose a weight that is comfortable for your body size.
- Consider the size of your bed when selecting a blanket.
- Select a material that provides the level of temperature you like (i.e., cotton vs. polyester).
- Find a blanket that matches your budget. Prices vary greatly, but blankets are becoming more widely available at all types of retailers.
If you have a circulatory condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before using a weighted blanket.
Next Steps & Resources
- Meet our source: Adrian Pristas, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Pristas or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- To learn more about our sleep programs at Hackensack Meridian Health, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Sleep
- All about essential oils
- How to increase mindfulness
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.