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“Stress-relieving” and “relaxing” are words that are constantly thrown around in marketing — especially when it comes to products. That said, while a scented candle or bath bomb might help you to unwind after a tough day, they’re not exactly considered clinical treatments for stress or sleep disorders. The best weighted blankets for anxiety and insomnia, on the other hand, might actually have some scientific backing, and even some mental health experts have noted their effectiveness.
To shed some light on the matter, I spoke with Stephanie Hartselle, MD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University. Dr. Hartselle also specializes in anxiety and sleep disorders, which are two of the most common issues that weighted blankets aim to alleviate. “Scientists have been interested in weighted blankets for more than 40 years,” Dr. Hartselle says. “Most studies have found a clear reduction in subjective anxiety (in children, adults, and those with autism spectrum).”
That said, you don’t necessarily have to experience chronic anxiety to reap the benefits of a high-quality weighted blanket. According to Dr. Hartselle, “Some [studies] have shown, especially in adults, an ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The mechanism is unclear entirely but it’s hypothesized that the blankets reduce sensory input and lower physiological arousal, providing a sense of calm.”
As weighted blankets gain popularity, there are more and more options on the market to choose from. This is, in part, a good thing — but it can also lead to the use of lower-quality materials and a misunderstanding of their purpose. Ultimately, you’ll want to find one that uses hypoallergenic filling like glass or ceramic, rather than plastic; it should also be the correct weight and fabric for your body and preferences.
Below, I utilize Dr. Hartselle’s insights to help outline the best weighted blankets for various needs, as well as the features you should consider when making your purchase.
When it comes to anti-anxiety blankets, one size does not fit all — and neither does one weight. “Most [experts] recommend getting a blanket at 10 percent of your body weight,” says Dr. Hartselle. “Some people may prefer slightly heavier or slightly lighter, but this is where it’s beneficial to be able to try a blanket out at home, returning if need be.”
The YnM weighted blanket is one of the top-selling options because it’s made with high-quality materials — including a premium cotton cover and seven-layer interior with glass beads — but it’s also sold in 13 different weights and sizes for all different ages and preferences. As per Dr. Hartselle’s advice, the 5-pound option is a great fit for a 50-pound child, while the 30-pound blanket works well for a 300-pound adult. The blankets also range in size, getting larger as the weight increases.
This blanket is available in six colors and patterns, and utilizes countless sewn compartments to ensure even weight distribution. It’s also machine-washable on a gentle setting. Last but absolutely not least, this pick is Amazon Prime-eligible and comes with a three-year satisfaction guarantee, so you can try it out at home — and if it’s not for you, you can return it without hassle.
Weighted blankets are, across the board, pretty expensive. If you’re looking to save some money on your purchase, it can be tempting to default to the lowest price tag — but often, manufacturers will cut corners in the form of low-quality materials and poor workmanship.
“Blankets can range from an organic heavy knit with no filling at all, to plastic beads and glass bead filling,” Dr. Hartselle says. “Consider, when buying, whether or not the beads seem to stay in place when you move the blanket around. You don’t want to be attempting to redistribute the weight in the middle of the night. Also note if the beads make noise with blanket movement.” Since plastic beads are often louder and can contain toxic ingredients, opt for glass beads instead.
Despite the fact that the Beauty Kate weighted blanket costs just $55 for a 15-pound weight, it’s still made with great materials and quality construction. It contains seven layers made from cotton, polyester, and premium hypoallergenic glass beads. It also utilizes sewn-in compartments to prevent shifting and noise, extra fabric to stop leaks and tears, and eight loops to keep the blanket in place. This pick is only offered in one weight, but it does come in two colors: gray or white.
Oftentimes, a large concern surrounding weighted blankets is how they’ll affect body temperature. If you’re already a hot sleeper, the last thing you want is a heavy material that feels stifling rather than comforting. Luckily, “There are blankets specifically made to be cooling,” Dr. Hartselle says. “Most use glass beads and a variety of natural fabrics.”
The Degrees of Comfort weighted blanket takes body temperature into consideration — and is one of the few options that’s also suitable for all-season use. It achieves this with a combination of smart materials and interchangeable covers.
Instead of glass and cotton, this blanket is filled with nano-ceramic beads and covered in microfiber for improved air circulation and cooling, moisture-wicking abilities. It also comes with two interchangeable covers: a warm fleece material for cold months and a CoolMax microfiber for hot seasons. You can get this one in two colors and various weights.
Specific textures can also be calming (or irritating) to those with anxiety, sleep disorders, or variances in the way they process sensory information. According to Dr. Hartselle, ideal fabrics are “mostly a matter of preference. Sensory disorders can run the gamut in terms of fabrics that irritate or calm.” If you’re not sure which fabrics you prefer, Dr. Hartselle says it’s a good idea “to test out the fabric” before you commit.
The rocabi weighted blanket is a good starting point for those who have texture preferences. That’s because it offers three different calming fabrics: a cooling cotton on the weighted insert, and a dual-sided cover with both faux-mink microfiber and soft textured bumps. According to reviewers, the textured bumps are “wonderful for anxiety” and “very comfortable against the skin.”
This pick is also made with glass beads, and is available in two sizes, three colors, and five weights. Since it’s Prime-eligible and has a 30-day no-hassle refund policy, you can return it if none of the textures suit your preferences.
As previously noted by Dr. Hartselle, weighted blankets could help people to fall asleep more quickly and remain that way throughout the night. That said, if you have trouble getting to sleep in the first place, the blanket you choose should be unobtrusive, quiet, and comfortable. Ensure that your pick is breathable to balance body temperature and well-made to prevent the beads from shifting when you move. “The last thing you need is a noisy blanket that’s meant to help you sleep,” Dr. Hartselle says.
Thanks to its quality construction and materials, the JML weighted blanket checks all of the aforementioned boxes: It’s soft and breathable, it’s made with hypoallergenic glass beads, and it’s carefully stitched to prevent shifting and noise during the night. However, this blanket has one brilliant feature that others do not: In addition to the weighted filling, it also contains real dried lavender petals, which have been shown to have a relaxing and sedative affect on the brain and body. Get this option in three weights, as well as various duvet fabric options.