5 Weighted Blanket Benefits for Kids & Adults (And How To Choose One)

Heather Dessinger

This post contains affiliate links.
Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Woman sitting in bed with book and weighted blanket over her legs

Comfy mattress? Check. Quiet, dark bedroom? Check. Thermostat set just where you like it? Check, check and check. If you’re like me, you put a high priority on optimizing sleep quality so that you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. 

Since restful sleep is one of the purported benefits of weighted blankets I felt obligated to try one for, uh, research. . . and it transformed both my sleep and daytime sense of well-being.

As I shared with you recently, I am recovering from Lyme disease, which has a notoriously negative impact on sleep quality. (1) Personally, I experienced a dramatic deterioration in sleep quality several months into my healing journey, which is just when I needed it most. This is one of the tools that helped me get back on track, and it’s beneficial for so much more than sleep.

How is that, you ask? We’ll dive into the fascinating science behind how they work below, along with other benefits of using weighted blankets such as:

  • Recalibration of the nervous system so that it can access “rest and recuperation mode”
  • Help with focus (in both kids and adults)
  • Increasing a sense of well-being and calm (especially after a stressful day or event)
  • Increasing feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins
  • Help for those with sensory processing disorder or autism
  • Better sleep (already mentioned, but worth mentioning again!)

So, what is a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets are filled with heavy materials (usually glass beads or plastic pellets) that are evenly distributed in tiny quilt-like pockets. Also called gravity blankets, they exert a gentle yet deep pressure that feels like a reassuring firm hug, a massage, or swaddling.

Full disclosure: I love to hug my kids, but I’m not much of a hugger in general so the description of a firm hug did not appeal to me at all. If you’re not a hugger, either, don’t let that discourage you from giving one a try.

As always,  I want to mention that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in. 

How do weighted blankets work?

Weighted blankets use deep touch pressure to help recalibrate your (seriously amazing) autonomic nervous system, which is made up of three parts.

  • Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – This part of your system triggers the fight or flight response, which is awesome for helping you run away from tigers but terrible at helping you counteract chronic stress (2)
  • Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) – This is rest and recuperation mode. It also regulates functions like digestion, blood pressure, and heart rate, making its activation super important for overall health.
  • Enteric nervous system (ENS) – This is the intrinsic system of the gastrointestinal tract, which is the only part of the  peripheral nervous system that is capable of local, autonomous function. Because it’s so independent it’s often called the second brain.

It’s no secret that for most of us, daily life brings so many more moments that activate our sympathetic (fight or flight) response instead of our parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. We don’t even necessarily need to feel stressed for this to happen – our fast-paced environment alone can cause our sympathetic nervous system to kick on frequently.

Weighted blankets help counteract this imbalance via deep pressure stimulation, which increases parasympathetic activity and helps us relax. (3)

What exactly is deep touch pressure?

Deep touch pressure is exactly what it sounds like – deep yet gentle pressure that activates sensory receptors across your body. It works via a “sixth sense” called proprioception, which is how our bodies are perceived by our brains. 

Certain types of proprioceptive input, such as the snug cocooning sensation offered by weighted blankets, relax the nervous system and encourage the release of feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins.

Also called deep pressure therapy, proprioceptive input can be applied with the hands, “hug machines” found in hospitals, and lap pads in addition to weighted blankets.

benefits of weighted blanket

5 Weighted Blanket Benefits for Kids & Adults

This is by no means an exhaustive list – I’ll continue adding research as I come across it!

1. Boosts Mood

Deep touch pressure increases the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate mood and creates a sense of relaxed calm. (4) It also helps regulate sleep and plays a role in cognitive function, healthy bowel function and sex. 

As we’ll discuss in more detail later, serotonin is also a precursor to the “sleep hormone” melatonin. Low serotonin levels are often found in individuals with depression, anxiety, and aggression. (That’s not a comprehensive list . . . just a few that I came across in my research.)

Weighted blankets may also have a positive impact on levels of both oxytocin (the love hormone) and dopamine (the happy hormone). (5) Oxytocin plays a role in sleep while decreasing pain and regulating immune function, and dopamine activates the reward centers of the brain responsible for motivation. (6)  

It also helps with attention, memory, and regulating movement.

2. Better Sleep

In this study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, participants had their sleep tracked while using their normal bedding for one week. Next they slept with a weighted blanket for two weeks, and then returned to their normal bedding again for one week. 

The researchers found that when they used the weighted blanket, participants were able to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply throughout the night. They also slept longer and reported feeling more refreshed in the morning.

Overall, we found that when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep,” wrote the researchers.

As mentioned above, part of the reason may be that weighted blankets increase serotonin, which is what our bodies use as the main building block for making melatonin. Often called the “sleep hormone,” melatonin helps regulate sleep, immune function, and cardiovascular health. Long-term supplementation may have some downsides, especially for kids, so I do my best to help my family optimize levels naturally.

Weighted blankets are one way to encourage serotonin production naturally, thus making more available to be converted to melatonin when the sun goes down.

3. Deeper Calm During The Day And Night (Reduced Stress)

Researchers have found that weighted blankets have a calming effect in times of intense stress – even wisdom tooth extraction! 

In this study, which called wisdom tooth extraction “one of the most common procedures associated with a high pain level, high stress, and anxiety,” researchers found that participants who wore a weighted blanket had increased levels of parasympathetic activity (and thus lower levels of stress) when measured via a reliable marker called heart rate variability.

That may be in part because in addition to encouraging the flow of “feel good” hormones, deep pressure stimulation has also been found to decrease levels of cortisol, aka the “stress hormone.” (4)

4. May Be Calming for People With Sensory Processing Disorder & Autism

Weighted blankets were originally designed to benefit children with sensory processing disorder and/or autism. According to research published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders:

The application of deep pressure, through for example weighted vests and blankets, has been reported to produce a calming and relaxing effect in clinical conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders. Applying deep pressure has been shown to be beneficial for children with high levels of anxiety or arousal and deep pressure touch may also alleviate anxiety…” (7)

5. Increased Focus During The Day

In a small study that used a similar type of deep touch pressure – weighted vests – children’s ability to concentrate increased by 18 to 25 percent. (8)

Part of that may be because, as described above, weighted blankets may optimize the production of dopamine, which affects motivation, attention, and memory.

Do weighted blankets work for everyone?

Ahhh, if only. In the study I mentioned above where adults got deeper, longer sleep with a weighted blanket, 4 out of 5 patients preferred using one. So at least in that study most people loved them, but not everyone.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

The general guideline is 10% of your body weight plus a couple of pounds. So if you weigh 140 pounds your range would be 10% of that (14 pounds) plus 2 pounds for a total of 16 pounds. However, there is some flexibility in this for adults, so you can opt for a slightly heavier or lighter one if you prefer.

Most experts say the guideline should be more strictly followed with children. According to Occupational Therapist Alisha Grogan,

You’ll also want to consider the actual size of the blanket. If it’s very large, a lot of the blanket won’t be touching your child so it can be a little heavier. Use these recommended weights as a starting place:

If a blanket is roughly the size of your child, then 10% of their body weight plus one pound is perfect. For larger blankets, like ones that cover the whole bed, you can have an additional 2-3 pounds on top of the 10% of their body weight.

For example, if your child is 40 lbs, a small weighted blanket should be around 5 lbs, and a larger blanket around 7-8 lbs.” (9)

Safety Guidelines

Please note: Below are recommendations I compiled from various sources while researching weighted blankets for my family. They’re intended as a general guide only. You should always use a weighted blanket in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions/advice from a registered occupational therapist or healthcare professional.

  • Kids under two should not use weighted blankets. (Some say three.)
  • The blanket must be light enough for your child to move easily to avoid suffocating. The face and head should not be covered.
  • According to Oxford National Health Service, weighted products should not be used for children with:
    • Respiratory (breathing) problems
    • Cardiac (heart) problems
    • Epilepsy
    • Serious hypotonia (low tone)
    • Skin problems, including certain allergies;
    • Circulatory Problems
    • Physical, learning or other difficulties which mean the child is unable to remove the blanket independently (10)
  • Weighted blankets are not recommended for individuals with asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, COPD, or other lung disorders.

What’s the best weighted blanket?

Because I try to avoid plastic whenever possible for environmental health, I prefer blankets that use glass beads instead of plastic pellets. Also I suggest opting for breathable cotton instead of fabrics like fleece that may get too hot. I love being warm – my sauna is my happy place – and my cotton version keeps me plenty warm without causing overheating.

Here are the two best options I’ve found:

YnM Blanket – Made with soft 100% Okeo Tex cotton and glass beads, this machine-washable blanket comes in several sizes and weights for kids and adults. It can also be paired with a machine washable duvet cover for easy cleaning.

Bearaby – These handmade weighted blankets are made with a gorgeous chunky knit that’s as beautiful as it is functional. Bearaby uses organic cotton, and their blankets are washable. Though I purchase 99.9% of the products I recommend on this site, Bearaby gave me one adult blanket and one kids blanket to test. Both are well-loved in our house, and we highly recommend them. You can see them all here.

Have you ever tried a weighted blanket? What was your experience?


1. Weinstein, ER et. al. (2018) Sleep quality in well-defined Lyme disease: a clinical cohort study in Maryland.

2. Harvard Medical School (2011) Understanding The Stress Response.

3. Hsin-Yung Chen et. al. (2016) Effect of deep pressure input on parasympathetic system in patients with wisdom tooth surgery

4. Field, Tiffany et. al. (2008) Cortisol Decreases and Serotonin and Dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy.

5. Breus, Michael (2019) Thinking Of Using A Weighted Blanket? Here’s What You Need To Know.

6. Yu-Feng, Wang (2016) Center Role of the Oxytocin-Secreting System in Neuroendocrine-Immune Network Revisited

7. Ackerly, R et. al. (2015) Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia.

8. VandenBerg, Nancy (2001) The Use of a Weighted Vest To Increase On-Task Behavior in Children With Attention Difficulties

9. Grogan, Alisha. The Must-Read Weighted Blanket Guide for Kids: Calm, Relax, Sleep

10. Oxford NHS. Guidance on the use of Weighted and Compressing Products.

Related Posts


Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

Leave a Comment

35 thoughts on “5 Weighted Blanket Benefits for Kids & Adults (And How To Choose One)”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to compile all this information, and for sharing it Heather! I seem to see weighted blankets everywhere these days, and while I’m interested and intrigued by the improved quality of sleep, my concern is that I live in Florida and I wonder how hot they are. If you or anyone else could weigh in on this I would be grateful! Thanks! Melissa

  2. Heather, thank you for this, I actually wanted to know your take on these because I wondered with the research you shared about how our bodies move to prevent pressure points when we sleep (when doing research on mattresses), if that would indicate against using these if the mattress isn’t the best?

    • Hi Rose, that’s a great question! The thing I love about my mattress is that it distributes weight in order to avoid stress on any one pressure point. The same is true of this blanket – the pressure is evenly distributed so that it stimulates parasympathetic activity without causing stress on one particular area.

  3. I am concerned about the inability to wash them. I know that you can put them in a cover and wash the cover, but what if you have a child that is still wetting the bed or gets sick in the bed. Also, they have allergies, so dust mites become a problem. Do you have any suggestions for a blanket that can be laundered? Thanks! Great information!

    • Hi, Edventure, I am checking to buy a weighted blanket in Germany, where I live. I had the same questions as you do, dust mites or stains or overall hygiene were my concern. Not that I want to oversantinize things, but washing my bedcover from time to time is a necessity for me. I found one on amazon, filled with 100% organic cotton and glass beads and they say it can be washed in low temperature (30° Celsius or less, that would be 86°F or less) in a delicate cycle with detergent withouth bleach (But as I use Mommypotamus’ recipe for my own detergent, I am sure to have no harmful ingredients in my detergent! 😉 ) I guess, there are weighed blankets that can be washed available in the U.S. as well! All the best from Frankfurt, Germany, Antje

      • Hello Antje,
        I was wondering about the organic cotton blanket. What is the name? Do you mind to share?
        Thank you

  4. So based on weight calculations, I feel like 2 out of 3 of my children are too big for one weight but too small for the next (42-lb preschooler & 117-lb tween who is somewhat overweight) Considering there will be growth, would it be ok to go up to the next size without it being too heavy?

  5. As an adult with pretty intense SPD, I can shed some light on how this helps:
    My brain is exhausted constantly because proprioception is really difficult. It might sound weird, but I just have trouble being aware of the boundaries of my physical self. In wide open spaces, I feel as though my edges are less real and I could somehow diffuse into the air. I like really tight clothes because they provide the necessary pressure to know where my self stops. A weighted blanket makes it easier to sleep because I don’t have to be thinking so hard to be aware of my self.
    It also evens out all the touch signals that my brain is getting.

  6. Just wondering how it’s possible to wash a blanket with glass beads in the washing machine. I just visualize a bunch of tiny glass shards … does it really work? Anyone actually washed one of these blankets without an issue?

  7. I am 89 with a spinal condition and cannot sleep in a standard bed so sleep in an adjustable recliner chair. This sounds ideal for me if I could get one narrow enough for my chair? I am only five feet tall and overweight . I think I would jplove the weight! I sleep with my window open even in winter because I love fresh air. When I was a kid in Winnipeg we had a sleeping room with two sides screened in off my parents, and once I woke up with my bed covered in snow, they kicked me back to my own bedroom so I wold turn off my hot water register and open my window. In summer, in Winnioeg, it got really hot Now I live in SE BC and not such drastic weather changes. I would love a washable smaller weighted blanket for my chair/ bed. How do I find one!

  8. I have a weighted blanket that I love, but I sleep hot, and it gets pretty warm for me. I don’t use it very much in the summer, unless I’m really struggling with sleep. My son really wants a weighted blanket, but I haven’t found one that is the right weight for him yet. I have noticed that there are people on Etsy who will custom make a blanket, but I haven’t priced them, nor do I know if they use organic cotton, but I’m sure there are some good resources– I just can’t vouch for them.

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you, Heather for this wonderful and helpful article! My daughter has been struggling with poor quality sleep since being diagnosed with Lyme disease and this was such a game changer for her! We ordered a Luna weighted blanket based on your recommendation, and she has been having peaceful nights and brighter days ever since! Thank you for sharing your experience and research with us!

  10. Hello,

    I also wanted to share my experiences and findings with weighted blankets.
    I am a 31 year old adult female, I’ve struggled with asthma, adhd and social anxiety all my life. I found a weighted blanket by accident!! I’m pretty sure it’s a vintage blanket as I’ve never seen one before or again like this. But it’s completely cotton, is about an inch and a half thick, covers my whole bed and is my nightly use blanket as my partner and I can both comfortably sleep with it. I can wash it in my washer easily. I’ve held it and weighed myself. It weighs about 40 Pounds. Though my doctor and OT have said that I can have as much weight on me as I want while in periods of crisis, or when I can feel a freak out coming. With that, my mom sewed together two of our heaviest quilts. I put that on me folded twice, if that’s still not enough I sometimes get my partner to lay on me for a few minutes so I can feel regulated again.
    I do not have issues breathing ever, I sometimes get a flip into feeling anxious but I have to remind myself that I’m in control of the weight, duration and frequency in which I do this.



  11. Good morning! Because of this article I purchased a Bearby blanket for my husband’s and my king size bed. Super excited to get it because I’m not sleeping well at night. FedEx said they delivered at my front door at 10:30 yesterday morning and it was not there. I’ve been in contact with the company and FedEx and they told me I’d have to wait two weeks. It’s a $400 blanket and I was super disappointed that that’s all the results that I can get. Thoughts?

  12. My gran used to use layers of blankets and not duvets plus a patchwork quilt. Perhaps the old ways are the best! I now love my patchwork quilt and take it everywhere with me – perhaps it’s the weight of it? Is there something specific about the beads and pressure or them or might just a heavy quilt do the same job?