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The Pros and Cons of Weighted Blankets | SnoozeUniversity

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Feb 13, 2022

When it comes to weighted blankets, some claim that they’re the greatest sleep innovation ever, while others think they make sleep worse.

Overall, the popularity of weighted blankets is rising, but it’s important to get an accurate picture of the pros and cons of weighted blankets to see if one might be right for you.

Note that new research on weighted blankets is constantly being done, which could lead to further improvements in their performance, so this is a topic that may be worth reconsidering in the future as well.

Let's look at the pros and cons of weighted blanket so you can decide if they're worth it.

Pros of Weighted Blankets

Weighted Blankets May Improve Sleep Quality

Obviously, people are interested in weighted blankets to improve sleep quality.

This may involve falling asleep faster, not tossing and turning, and not waking up early.

There’s some evidence that weighted blankets can improve sleep quality by reducing anxiety, however, it is far from conclusive at this point in time.

A 2020 systematic review found 8 high quality studies to look at and overall they found (1):

Weighted blankets may be an appropriate therapeutic tool in reducing anxiety; however, there is not enough evidence to suggest they are helpful with insomnia.

That certainly isn’t a strong or clear conclusion.

If you’d like to dig into the details a bit more, see our post on weighted blankets for anxiety and insomnia.

SummaryFor now, there’s some evidence that weighted blankets can help with those who have anxiety when trying to sleep. If you spend time laying in bed and can’t shut off your brain, you may have high levels of anxiety that a weighted blanket could help with.

Weighted Blankets Are Generally More Comfortable

When I originally researched weighted blankets, one of the most interesting findings was that even in studies where no benefit was found, most subjects thought weighted blankets were more comfortable.

For example, in a study on having autistic children use weighted blankets (2):

The use of a weighted blanket did not help children with ASD sleep for a longer period of time, fall asleep significantly faster, or wake less often. However, the weighted blanket was favored by children and parents, and blankets were well tolerated over this period.

There’s certainly value in being more comfortable while in bed, and it’s possible that it could lead to long-term sleep benefits (by reducing sleep anxiety).

Weighted Blankets Reduce Movement During Sleep

Other than potentially falling asleep faster, the weight of the blanket itself is going to significantly reduce movement during night.

Not surprisingly multiple studies have found that weighted blankets reduce movement while sleeping (3).

Whether or not this actually improves objective sleep quality is unknown (you could tie someone up in ropes and also reduce movement), but these studies do typically report that subjects using weighted blankets appear to have calmer sleep.

Cons of Weighted Blankets

Weighted Blankets Typically Cost More Than Regular Comforters

There are certainly affordable weighted blankets and extremely expensive “normal” comforters and duvets.

However, when comparing blankets of similar quality, weighted blankets are generally more expensive.

They are harder to make, have more material, and even cost more to ship because of the weight.

Certain Weighted Blankets Can Get Too Hot

Not all weighted blankets will make you too hot, but it’s a common complaint if it’s not considered beforehand.

There’s more material in a weighted blanket, which has the potential to trap extra heat compared to a regular blanket.

However, if you typically run hot while sleeping, you can specifically by a “cooling” weighted blanket which is made from breathable materials like cotton and filled with glass beads.

The “hot” weighted blankets are typically made with polyester and have plastic pellet fillings, neither of which are particularly breathable.

Weighted Blankets Are Harder to Move

It seems like a small thing, but moving a weighted blanket around the house as needed, and even making the bed becomes more difficult.

If you happen to buy a weighted blanket at a brick and mortar retail store, it may even be difficult to carry home.

This certainly isn’t the biggest con, but something to keep in mind.

Weighted Blankets Are Harder To Clean

Weighted blankets cannot just be tossed in the laundry machine.

Most of them need to be spot cleaned, which is more time consuming and can make certain stains more difficult to get out.

Some weighted blankets are easier to clean than others, so look for the care instructions before buying one. You can also get a thin washable cover to put over as well.

It Takes Time to Adjust to Weighted Blankets

It’s important to know that weighted blankets can actually feel uncomfortable at first. It typically takes anywhere from a few nights to a week to acclimate to the increased weight.

While Not Common, Weighted Blankets Can Make You Feel Sick

The deep pressure of a weighted blanket is comforting for most people. However, it makes some people feel very uneasy and even feel sick.

Sometimes this will go away as someone adjusts to the new weighted blanket, but not always.

Weighted Blankets Can Be Dangerous For Toddlers

For most people, weighted blankets are safe.

However, the increased weight can actually be dangerous for toddlers or those with developmental disabilities.

Weighted blankets should typically be about 10% of an adult person’s weight, but potentially even less than children. Bottom line: check with the manufacturer to make sure the one you’re considering is safe for whoever is using it.

What to Expect With a Weighted Blanket

Putting that all together, current evidence suggests that weighted blankets may improve sleep because they can reduce anxiety.

However, evidence is somewhat limited, and they certainly aren’t a complete cure for insomnia by themselves in most cases.

But the cons are generally small things, like increased cost or slightly more annoying cleaning instructions. If you buy the right weighted blanket, most of the “cons” disappear.

If you are interested in using a weighted blanket, the pros often outweigh the cons and it’s worth a try, just keep everything we looked at here in mind.

References

  1. Weighted Blanket Use: A Systematic Review
  2. Weighted blankets and sleep in autistic children--a randomized controlled trial
  3. Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.