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Weighted Blankets For Anxiety and Insomnia: Do They Work?

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Oct 04, 2020

Weighted blankets are mentioned quite often in online sleep communities these days.

There’s a lot of positive anecdotes about them, which suggests they can be effective for not only reducing anxiety, but also sleep issues.

Research has started to be published on this subject, so I’m going to give you a quick overview of the current research on weighted blankets and if they are actually effective.

Research on Weighted Blankets for Anxiety and Insomnia

Let’s start with a systematic review that came out in early 2020.

It found 8 valid studies to summarize and concluded (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.

However, anxiety is one of the leading causes of insomnia, so for certain people with sleep issues, weighted blankets would be effective just by reducing anxiety.

Weighted Blankets May Help Some People More Than Others

One study found another interesting side effect, that movement during sleep decreased when using weighted blankets (2).

So while more research is needed, it suggests weighted blankets could be effective for those with conditions like restless leg syndrome.

On a related note, some researchers looked at the effect of weighted blankets on children with autism and sleep issues, who typically have a lot of restlessness (3).

While you might expect positive results, they didn’t find anything:

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.

This is why it’s so important to have more than a few individual studies when trying to conclude whether or not a treatment method is effective.

The Type of Weighted Blanket Might Matter

One final study I’d like to look at came out just weeks before I wrote this post.

They looked at the effect of weighted chain blankets on people with insomnia by giving one group a “light” plastic chain blanket, and one a “heavy” metal chain blanket (4).

They found that the mean level on the ISI (insomnia severity index) went from “severe” to “subthreshold insomnia” in the group that used the heavier, metal chain blanket.

A weighted chain blanket sounds like exactly what it is - chains sewn into a blanket.

SummaryOne important variable of weighted blankets is the weight itself. A certain amount of weight, distributed evenly, may be needed to see sleep and anxiety improvements.

Summary: Do Weighted Blankets Work For Insomnia and Anxiety?

Overall research on weighted blankets is still in an early stage.

There are promising results that suggest that weighted blankets can have a positive effect on both anxiety and insomnia.

However, some studies have failed to find positive results of using weighted blankets, suggesting that the type of blanket matters, and results will vary among individuals with different anxiety or sleep issues.

One final thing to consider is that they are a safe potential treatment option for sleep or anxiety issues, and even in the studies where there was no positive effect, subjects all found them comfortable.

References

  1. Weighted Blanket Use: A Systematic Review
  2. Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia
  3. Weighted blankets and sleep in autistic children--a randomized controlled trial
  4. A randomized controlled study of weighted chain blankets for insomnia in psychiatric disorders

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualitified 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.