What Really Happens When You Sleep With A Weighted Blanket

If you have trouble sleeping, or deal with anxiety, at some point someone may have recommended a weighted blanket to you. These cozy coverings are all the rage for people fighting insomnia — or even just looking to calm down.

Weighted blankets generally weigh between 5 and 30 pounds, according to Healthline, and are said to help treat a variety of conditions. Though there are few studies to provide proof, people with autism, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep problems, and ADHD are all said to benefit from using them. The calming effect comes from deep pressure stimulation, which is similar to the relaxing benefit you experience after getting a massage or being hugged.

One study, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, explained that deep pressure differs from normal touch in that lighter pressure wakes up the nervous system. By comparison, deep pressure produces serotonin in the brain, which has a calming and relaxing effect.

How does a weighted blanket help sleep?

The problem with sleeplessness is that it is a self-perpetuating cycle, according to Northwell Health. Dr. Saul Rothenberg, psychologist and diplomate at the American Board of Sleep Medicine, explained that the more you worry about being awake, the less likely you are to be able to fall asleep. "If you don't think too much about it, the brain tends to return to the normal patterns of sleep," he said. "But if you continue to worry about having trouble sleeping, it can turn into a long-term pattern."

The weighted blanket not only quiets the nervous system, but it also provides something else for the mind to dwell on rather than the inability to sleep. "The weight of the blanket gives you something to focus on, so it sort of forces you to be mindful," one user told Northwell.

There are some downsides to weighted blankets. They can be hot, and they can be expensive. Many companies sell them for between $100 and $250 dollars depending on the weight. But if it's the price of a good night's sleep, it might be well worth the money. If you're going to invest in one, just shop around and look for one with a good return policy.