Weighted blankets have surged out of the therapist’s toolkit and into the mainstream. Though originally an option for people with sensory problems and PTSD, you probably have heard about them at some point in the last two years even if you have no such person in your life. If you’re the sort of person who is comforted by the mere idea of curling up under a heavy pile of blankets in your winter bed, you may understand why.
I am such a person, and I’ve been curious about weighted blankets for a while. So when SleepScore Labs recently offered to talk to GeekMom about the benefits of weighted blankets for the average person and sent us a Gravity blanket for review, I took them up on it.
SleepScore Labs began in 2016 with a cadre of experts who created an app to improve sleep. (In general, I sleep pretty well, but if you’re a snorer or waking up tired all the time, you might take a look at it.) They also have a store where you can purchase an assortment of sleep aids, including the Gravity Blanket, which launched with a $4.7 million Kickstarter campaign in 2017. According to SleepScore, 72% of the blanket’s users report sleep improvement.
When I asked about benefits to the average person outside of a therapy situation, SleepScore claimed three primary improvements:
- Stress and Anxiety Reduction: The Gravity Blanket uses the power of “deep touch pressure stimulation” to simulate the feeling of being held or hugged. This has been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for calming relaxation, while decreasing cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. SleepScore Labs’ study confirmed this, stating that more than half of the users reported a reduction of overall stress.
- Improved Sleep Quality: Using the Gravity Blanket each night can help you fall asleep fast and sleep more deeply, improving your overall sleep quality. SleepScore Labs’ was also able to confirm this in their study, and in turn the Gravity Blanket became a verified product in the SleepScore Sleep Shop.
- Quality Design and Feel: The Gravity Blanket is made with an exterior micro-fiber duvet that’s super soft and the internal blanket’s gridded stitching ensures the blanket’s internal micro beads remain uniformly distributed. This makes the Gravity Blanket one of the most comfortable blankets to use.
How does that hold up to my experience? It depends on whom in my house you ask. I loved the blanket for the few days when I first received it when the weather was still cold. If you imagine the weight of the apron the dentist puts on you when you get x-rays, it feels something like 2 or 3 of those piled on in full blanket size, but without feeling constricting. (And nobody’s shoving those sharp x-ray films in your mouth!) The blanket is 72″x48″, so closer to a throw blanket than a twin-sized quilt or comforter, which would usually be 10-20″ bigger in both directions. It really does feel quite nice to lie under.
But a few years back, I heard about a study that showed a correlation between vivid, unsettling dreams and a sleeping room that was too warm. Personal experimentation showed this was certainly true for me, and now despite my love for a pile of blankets, I know I sleep much better when I’m cooler. It’s actually one of the reasons I was drawn to weighted blankets, as I’d heard that they offered you the satisfying feeling of the weight without the heat. That said, the Gravity Blanket we were sent for review came with their microfleece duvet cover. It is amazingly soft and feels wonderful to the touch. But it is warm! However, Gravity also makes a cooling duvet cover made of a breathable fabric, which might be a better option for me.
My husband, on the other hand, has not parted with the blanket since the moment I gave it up. It’s currently reaching the 80s during the day where we live, so it’s certainly not what you’d call cool-weather season. And he hates being too warm—all the time, not just when sleeping! We’ve been married 17 years, and for much of that, I’ve seen him sleep with no top cover at all, so to see him take to the Gravity Blanket so strongly, I know it’s making a difference for him.
Weighted blankets, in general, can come with an assortment of types of fillings. The original Kickstarter version of the Gravity Blanket used plastic beads, but they’ve recently switched to fine-grade glass beads for the weighted inner. “The glass beads are so small it almost feels like sand,” they told us, “making the experience more comfortable, as well as more environmentally friendly.”
You choose the blanket based on your own weight. This is another point on which I’m going to have to say it may be a matter of personal preference, although they recommend a blanket that is between 7% and 12% of your body weight. My husband well outweighs me, but the blanket he’s been using is intended for my weight range. He doesn’t seem to mind the lighter weight, but he finds that it falls off. (He can be a restless sleeper!) I, on the other hand, had the opposite problem, in that if I wanted to move it during the night, I felt like a weightlifter getting a workout. I couldn’t just toss it off like the lighter quilt I’d been sleeping under. This is worth adding to your consideration of which weight you’d like to buy!
Unfortunately for us geeks who like science to back up our plans, there are few independent studies supporting the usefulness of weighted blankets. That said, sometimes anecdata really is worth something. If you’ve been considering it for a while, that probably means you’re the sort of person who would find the weight comforting, and it just might be something to try. They’re not inexpensive, though, so if you do have the opportunity to try one out first, you should take it.
As for me, because of the heat and its size, I suspect I’ll keep letting the other half of the bed use it until the weather gets cold again, and then declare it my sofa blanket. Husband, you’ve been warned!
SleepScore Labs sells the Gravity Blanket for $249 (with free shipping) in three weights and two colors. You can find other covers directly at the Gravity store, such as the aforementioned cooling cover and more decorative duvet covers.
SleepScore sent GeekMom this item for review.