SFH #68: Weighted Blankets

Why you should consider one for your health 🤙🏼

Weighted blankets are probably worth a try, and the reason might surprise you.

I first used a weighted blanket when a good friend Danny let me crash in his guest room (now his office). We went to see Uncut Gems at Cobble Hill Cinemas that same night. That movie still gives me stress attacks. I curled under a thick comforter and weight blanketed and slept so soundly. I've had similar experiences where the sleep metrics on my device will spike positively with a change. I put that on display when I shared about mouth taping. Without digging up the data here for a snapshot view of my first pass, I thought I'd share some basic observations and the science.

First, let's look at the science. There's not much of it.

A handful of the small group studies on weighted blankets and the pressure stimulation it creates are related to anxiety. So you may imagine that it shows significant effects in reduced anxiety? Well, meh. Only 1/3 of one study of 32 participants showed reduced stress from the decreased autonomic arousal.1

A couple of others are compelling, like this one on ADHD2 or this one on chronic pain3.

In examining the limited resources, the apparent correlation is that weighted blankets have a good shot to help reduce stress. The deep pressure seems to destimulate the sympathetic response system and allow the parasympathetic to restore us.4

Now to my observations. From that first night close to 3 years ago, I've spent probably 300 nights under a weighted blanket. Does it help? It certainly doesn't hinder. I noticed a correlation of slightly deeper sleep when I was tracking more closely. Now, I know it can only improve my chances to sleep better, so I use it when I can. Here's what you should look at.

  1. Do you like it? If you don't like it when you use it, there is no point in forcing it. The science isn't overwhelming, and there are plenty of other things to try to help with your sleep and your autonomic nervous system. I'm a big believer that you have to enjoy a healthy habit to sustain it.

  2. Can you test it? Do you have some method to measure your sleep, resting heart rate, or energy level after a night under one of these suckers? The feeling good can be enough of a reason. It was in this autism study.5 I tout the placebo effect often. It's further proof that our mindset is one of the biggest health catalysts we can wield.

  3. What's the cost? I think this is the biggest reason to try out a weighted blanket. You can certainly buy something cheap and not weighted. I have this one from Target on my bed. And I also have this weighted blanket; as you will see, the Luna is only $40 more if you click through. If you told me the potential to get a few extra minutes of deep, restful sleep each night for a few years was that cheap, I would think you were selling snake oil.

And the last consideration of cost is my final point. It's not snake oil. It's the small cost of materials and labor to add 5-30 pounds to something you already use. It's cheap enough to try out, and it's potentially significant enough over time it could create a healthier version of a life that you seek. 💫