Weighted Blanket Pros and Cons: One Neurodiverse Family’s Unbiased Weighted Blanket Review
As long-time readers know, I am obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep. I am obsessed with my kids sleeping well. I am especially obsessed with overcoming all the hurdles mamas face to a good night’s sleep. So with all the hype in recent years about weighted blankets, I’ve been wondering for awhile now: Are weighted blankets worth it?
That is, given their often hefty price tag, are weighted blankets worth the hype?
Maybe you, too, have come across a random magazine article about weighted blankets – and have been asking yourself:
- Are weighted blankets worth buying?
- More specifically, are weighted blankets worth the money?
- Do weighted blankets live up to the hype?
- Could weighted blankets be my family’s key to a better night’s sleep?
I sure have been asking that last question for awhile now. Here’s what I’ve learned from research and from our own in-home testing:
Or if you want to read the research later and cut to the chase now, you can skip to the end of this post by clicking here.
Already know you want a weighted blanket? Then ✅click here for Amazon’s current holiday deals, some as much as 75% off the regular price!
This is NOT a sponsored post, but it does contain affiliate links. (As well as a few discount codes, if you read to the end!)
Originally published Nov. 22, 2019; last updated October 2020.
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying a Weighted Blanket:
1. What exactly ARE weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets are like a multi-layered quilt, with a top layer, an underside, and filling in between. But instead of fluffy batting sewn between the layers, weighted blankets are filled with a substance that gives them “weight.”
Usually, this filling consists of tiny hypoallergenic pellets made of glass or plastic beads. The filling is sewn into place between the layers, so it stays evenly distributed while the blanket is in use.
Are weighted blankets safe for kids?
For KIDS, yes, generally – as long as you have the appropriate weight blanket for your child. For infants and toddlers, NO.
The general rule of thumb for sizing blankets is that you want about 10% of your body weight for adults, (10% + 1-2lbs) for kids. It should go without saying that weighted blankets, just like any blanket, should NOT go in a crib. Never, ever, ever.
If you have a child whose mobility is impaired – unable to turn over for themselves, for example – I’d think twice about giving that child a weighted blanket, and consult the child’s doctor/pediatrician first:
- The biggest risk from weighted blankets comes from having blankets that are too heavy for the child (see guidelines above), which could lead to entrapment or suffocation.
- The way to avoid this danger is to size the blanket appropriately, and make sure the child doesn’t feel trapped when using it. If they feel trapped, either it’s too heavy, or a weighted blanket is not for them.
- One doc recommends that if the child can arrange the blanket over themselves unassisted, then they’re capable of using one safely. If they need an adult’s help, not so much.
Besides the “feeling trapped” criterion, there are certain medical conditions that could make weighted blankets a bad choice for you. Apparently asthma and high blood pressure (she raises hand on both) are among these conditions. Perhaps this is why I wasn’t overwhelmed by a noticeable positive difference when testing one out recently.
Are weighted blankets warm? Are weighted blankets hot?
Most of what I found when researching this question came from different manufacturers’ websites. Thus, of course they were each touting the different qualities of their own individual products. Here is the general consensus I got from them:
The most important way to judge how warm/breathable/hot a blanket feels on the sleeper is by seeing what they’re made from. Or more specifically, what the outer layers are made from.
- Those with fleece or minky sewn into the blanket itself are going to be the warmest. Which is great if it’s winter. If it’s summertime, or you live in a warmer climate, maybe not so much.
- Those whose covers are made out of “cooler” and/or wicking fabric, which will draw moisture away from your body when you sweat, are better choices for keeping you cool. Think cotton, a wicking cotton/poly blend, or bamboo. (Having tried a bamboo sleeping bag liner for the first time last summer, I can say that bamboo is indeed VERY cool and comfy, even in the hottest/most humid summer climates.)
Fall 2020 Update:
My personal recommendation, both for comfy-cool summer sleeping and for general hygiene, is to get a weighted blanket with interchangeable washable covers. (Think like a duvet/duvet covers.)
I did this for the girls last spring, as temps started to heat up where they were. The covers we tested were assorted materials (bamboo and cotton), all machine washable and easy-care. The girls loved them, and having lighter-weight non-fleece covers made the blankets more comfortable for them to continue using, on all but the hottest summer nights.
Those of us who suffer from allergies need to wash our bedding more often than most people (including blankets, comforters, etc.) anyway. So for us, getting a few spare covers was a no-brainer.
Are weighted blankets machine washable?
Again, this is easy enough to figure out before you buy one, if you read the fine print. Most of the ones I’ve seen appear to be machine-washable and dryer-friendly. But again, just read the fine print as you’re shopping.
2. Do weighted blankets work?
This is the million-dollar question. For this section, I’ll tell you what the studies say. If you want to know what we found in our home-testing, skip to the next section.
HOW do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets are like getting a big hug all night long. You know the pressure your body feels when someone dear gives you a big, long hug? That is the general idea behind sleeping under a weighted blanket.
To explain it more scientifically, weighted blankets give your body something called “deep touch pressure” or “deep pressure stimulation,” or a form of “deep touch” that has the same effect on our bodies as a hug or a massage. What these forms of deep touch all help do is flip a switch in our bodies from a higher-stress “fight-or-flight” existence, into a calmer lower-stress state. (That’s the super-condensed explanation; you can read more here.)
I don’t know about you, but as a 21st century parent, I exist in a high-stress, fight-or-flight mode more often than I’d care to admit. At least one of our kiddos has found herself in the same boat. And plenty of other 21st century kiddos also find day-to-day life super-stressful.I don't know about you, but as a 21st century parent, I live in a high-stress, fight-or-flight mode more often than I'd care to admit. Could a weighted blanket help with this?Click To Tweet
But as for whether they “work” to help “treat” different conditions, it’s been hard to conduct strict scientific studies. Thus most of the evidence comes from anecdotal (word-of-mouth) reports versus rigorous scientific testing.
Do weighted blankets help you sleep better?
Many (though not all) who’ve tried them seem to think so. One theory is that for restless sleepers in particular, the fact that the blanket makes it harder to thrash around means you’re less likely to wake yourself up by moving about.
And then there’s the whole flipping the body out of fight-or-flight mode thing, from that “deep touch.” When our body switches from “fight-or-flight” to “rest-and-digest,”
And if you think about the fact that hugs help trigger such “feel-good” chemicals as oxytocin and seretonin in our bodies, well, it would make sense that the hug-like deep touch pressure of weighted blankets would do the same.
While large-scale rigorous scientific studies are hard to come by, many medical professionals and people who’ve tried them alike believe that weighted blankets can help alleviate everything from chronic pain and depression to insomnia.
Are weighted blankets good for “exceptional” or “special-needs” kids (and grownups)?
Or, to be more specific,
Do weighted blankets help with anxiety?
There is some evidence that being “grounded” during sleep, which apparently is one of the things a weighted blanket accomplishes, has been shown to decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol is, of course, the “stress hormone.” Decrease cortisol levels + increase oxytocin/serotonin levels = better sleep, especially (but not only) for those with chronic or severe anxiety.
Are weighted blankets good for kids with ADHD?
Restlessness and a hard time holding still are common symptoms for some (though not all) people with ADHD. Thus it’s not surprising that many kids with ADHD have a hard time sleeping. Moreover, many of the medications used to treat ADHD are stimulants, which makes it even harder for kids with diagnosed ADHD to sleep.
Maybe it’s the weight making it harder to move. Maybe it’s the sense of a calming hug, and all the hormonal benefits I’ve already described. Or maybe it’s the fact that many kids with ADHD have low serotonin levels to begin with, and the blankets can help boost this. What matters, though, is that many kids with ADHD have found weighted blankets are great for helping them “calm down” – and sleep better. (One study of ADHD kids wearing weighted vests even found that many had a reduction in their symptoms while wearing them!)
Do weighted blankets help kids with ASD?
Parents of kids on the autism spectrum may already have experience with weighted vests and other forms of deep pressure stimulation from occupational therapy sessions. The fact that kids on the spectrum often spend a lot of time with their bodies in fight-or-flight mode suggests that weighted blankets should help them sleep better, too.
But does this actually work? Well, one study found no scientifically measurable difference in how well kids on the autism spectrum slept with weighted blankets vs. without them. BUT, kids and parents alike PREFERRED the weighted blankets over regular ones.
What about kids with SPD?
Kids with sensory processing order (SPD) have trouble processing the bombardment of stimuli in the world around them. As one source devoted to SPD explained it, think about how busy, bright, and loud the world is to a just-born baby; being tightly swaddled often calms them. For kids with SPD, that sense of “bombardment” persists. Thus it’s not surprising that the sense of calm and relief from deep pressure stimulation – here, from weighted blankets instead of swaddling – also continues.
3. So – are weighted blankets really worth it?
For several years now, starting back when they were still definitely a “fringe” concept, I’ve been wondering if weighted blankets would be the golden ticket to better sleep that my little brains-always-moving kiddos needed:
- For ages, I always thought their unique brain-wiring had something to do with this difficulty getting (and staying!) asleep.
- Since this past spring, I’ve wondered if my dear daughter who (we now know) also has another learning difference would especially benefit from sleeping under a weighted blanket.
- And given my tendency to be a little stressed at times, I’ve wondered if I, too, would benefit from the revered calming effects of weighted blankets.
But the high cost of most weighted blankets always made it seem like an expensive thing to “just try.” What if it didn’t work?
Then, a few weeks ago, I came across several brand-new kids’ 10lb weighted blankets at my final children’s resale event of the fall. Since this was a consignment sale, I figured I could afford to splurge on three of them, and we could take turns testing one of them out. That way, if only one or two of us ended up finding the blanket beneficial, I could still sell the unopened one(s) again in the spring.
What we tested:
The blanket we tested for six nights (two nights each for me, Kimmie, and Essie) was a Quility 10-lb blanket. Both my girls are around 70 lbs right now, which makes this blanket at the heavier end of appropriate for them (and way too light for my much-more-than-70-lbs frame). But since all three of us were testing the same blanket, the 10lb one was an appropriate compromise. (And moreover, being a bit on the heavy side right now means it should grow with the girls).
I would not have splurged on getting even ONE blanket to try, let alone three, if it had not had several qualities to begin with:
- Machine washable (Quility blankets are 100% machine washable and dryable);
- Designed not to be too hot (the Quility blankets are designed to be comfortable in all seasons)
- Had a removable cover that you can wash separately (Each Quility blanket comes with a cover that you can remove/machine wash. Ours all happened to be made of soft minky fabric with nubbies on one side – a great sensory experience, and so much fun to play with, especially if you’re neurodiverse in certain ways).
- You can also buy additional covers online, so you can have one to wash and one to wear/never be without one.
Our in-home tests:
Once the sale was behind me, I and the two girls each took turns trying one of the blankets, for two nights apiece: first me, then Neurodiverse Daughter (NDD), then closer-to-Neurotypical Daughter (NTD). My prediction was that I and NDD would really enjoy the weighted-blanket experience; NTD, I figured, not so much.
My two nights under the blanket were a mixed bag:
- I admit, I’ve long enjoyed having one of the girls snuggle on top of me while we’re lying on the couch, hanging out. I therefore figured this was a no-brainer, and I’d be a convert.
- I really liked having the sensation of that weighted blanket at the start of the night, when I first crawled into bed. It felt just as comforting as everything I’ve read suggested.
- However, when I tried to crawl back under it after my middle-of-night bathroom break, I instead felt suffocated. Not to mention overly hot. (Granted, this was crawling back into a warm bed, with our regular winter bedding between me and the weighted blanket. But still…)
As for the girls:
- NDD loved it. So much so, that as soon as her first night was over and she figured out she’d need to wait two more nights until her next turn, she snuck out an old heavy quilt that we took off her bed a few months ago, and folded it up such that it mimicked the blanket in size (and, to a much lesser extent, in weight).
- But much to my surprise, NTD ALSO loved it. So much so that she got upset each time she had to give it up after a night of using it!
So after we’d each had two nights of sleeping under our test blanket, the girls were both pleading with me to please buy another blanket, so they wouldn’t have to keep sharing the “one” blanket we had.
Needless to say, they were thrilled when I pulled out one of the spare blankets, so that each girl can now have her very own!
I figured the girls’ self-reported happiness at sleeping under a Quility blanket was the end of our test results. Little did I realize, that was just the beginning:
Now that we’ve been through a full school week with then, I can say without a doubt that these blankets have REVOLUTIONIZED our mornings:
- NTD has been coming downstairs/to our room far too often lately, several hours after bedtime, complaining she cannot sleep. This has ended now that she has her weighted blanket. Meaning that she’s getting more sleep – but so are her parents!
- But the most amazing thing we’ve noticed is the complete transformation in NDD’s mornings. She almost acts like a neurotypical kiddo now!
She still has her diagnosis. And the details that go along with that diagnosis still mean it’s hard for her to fall asleep, and stay asleep. This can lead to a grouchy kid who hasn’t gotten enough rest at night, and whose symptoms are thus ten times worse in the mornings than if she were getting enough sleep.
But I realized something the other day:
NDD is getting more sleep, and is thus a happier child in the morning. (!!!)
For our family, this means
- less yelling;
- less nagging;
- more smiles, from kids and grownups alike;
- decreased chances someone will be late to school, and/or forget something like homework or lunch;
- less stress in general;
- and mornings that are almost (dare I say it) peaceful?
This alone makes having a weighted blanket for our neurodiverse daughter priceless, in my mind.More, better sleep for our neurodiverse daughter = a happier child in the morning. All because of sleeping with a weighted blanket.Click To Tweet
4. Buying tips for getting the right weighted blanket
Once you’ve figured out how heavy a weighted blanket you need (roughly 10% of weight; add a few pounds to that for a child), here are some questions to ask:
- Is the blanket machine-washable? What about machine-drying?
- Does it have a removable cover you can wash separately? How many covers come with it? Can you order a spare cover or two?
- Does this blanket generally have good reviews? What are the complaints of those who left negative reviews?
- How much does the blanket cost? What about extra covers?
- And finally, above all else, can I return this blanket for free if it just doesn’t work out, and receive a full refund? (This is something you’ll see in the upper right of the screen on Amazon, immediately after the price and whether it’s Prime-eligible. Surprisingly, several allow free returns!)
With the ability to try a weighted blanket and return it FOR FREE if it doesn’t work for your child/they don’t like it, there’s really no reason NOT to give them a try, whether as a holiday gift or “just because.”
Even better, there are plenty of ✅kids’ weighted blankets rated 4+ stars on Amazon for under $100!
And even better still, you can find amazing holiday deals on weighted blankets here.
Oh, yeah, and those discount codes I mentioned? Well,
- If you buy a Quility blanket from Amazon using this link, you can get 10% off at checkout with code Quility1.
- Or if you buy a spare cover at this link, you can get 20% off with code Quility2!
Has anyone in your family tried a weighted blanket before? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments!
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