Your Guide to All Things Weighted for Better Sleep

Therapeutic weighted products have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years, but they’ve been around for much longer. Some of the earliest uses of weighted products date back to 1999, when occupational therapists began using them as a therapy tool for children with anxiety, autism and sensory processing difficulties. Today, weighted products — including the increasingly popular weighted blanket — have successfully entered the mainstream, promising to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, sleep disorders, ADHD, autism and more.


Source: Gravity Blankets

Weighted products have become particularly popular among those with sleep difficulties, and for good reason. The firm, gentle pressure provided by these therapeutic items is akin to receiving a comforting hug at all the right pressure points, making the user feel calm and lulling them into a deeper sleep.

Interested in trying a weighted product for insomnia but not sure where to start? Here’s a complete breakdown of all things weighted for better sleep.

What Are Weighted Products and How Do They Work?

A weighted product is exactly what the name implies. It’s a heavier-than-normal item — a blanket, an eye mask, a robe, etc. — that delivers evenly distributed pressure to the body, known as deep touch pressure. The idea is that the gentle pressure from weighted products can have a calming effect, activating your body’s relaxation response while also increasing the production of melatonin and serotonin — two chemical messengers that play crucial roles in our sleep-wake cycle.

How Can Weighted Products Promote Better Sleep?

Weighted products can help support a good night’s rest in various ways. Along with stimulating melatonin and serotonin production, weighted products decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can make you feel on edge and threaten to disrupt your sleep.


Source: Gravity Blankets

Weighted products may also enhance sleep by:

  • Distracting you from anxious thoughts
  • Providing a general sense of comfort and security
  • Minimizing pain perception
  • Reducing tossing and turning

What Does the Research Say?

While scientific studies on deep touch pressure and weighted products are currently limited, there is growing evidence to suggest that the pressure from these soothing products can support a good night’s rest, among other things.

  • In a randomized, controlled study of weighted blankets for insomnia, researchers found that the use of weighted blankets resulted in significantly better sleep and reduced symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety in participants.
  • In another randomized, controlled study, researchers studied the effect of deep touch pressure input on dental patients undergoing wisdom tooth surgery. Their results suggest that deep touch pressure may help decrease stress in dental patients by increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system — the system in charge of the body’s “rest and digest” response.

3 Weighted Products to Try Right Now

Ready to harness the power of deep touch pressure for yourself? Here are a few weighted products that promise to support a calmer night’s sleep.

  1. Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are, by far, the most popular weighted product. Once used as a tool for children with autism and sensory processing disorders, these therapeutic blankets have become a must-have for anyone struggling with anxiety, insomnia or both. Weighted blankets come in a range of styles, fabrics and colors to help you get your best night of sleep yet, and often double as stylish décor for your home — a win-win for your snooze and your living spaces. Other factors you’ll want to consider include the size and weight of the blanket (experts recommend picking one 10 percent of your bodyweight), the type of filler it contains and ease of washing.

  1. Weighted Eye Masks

Whether you’re looking for a soothing solution for cluster headaches (the worst!) or an easy way to harness the power of deep touch pressure on the road, a weighted eye mask is a must-have in your sleep arsenal. Like traditional eye masks, weighted eye masks block out light that can suppress melatonin and rob you of a good night’s sleep but come with the additional benefit of delivering gentle pressure to key pressure points on the face. Some weighted eye masks can be popped in the microwave or refrigerator to provide hot and cold therapy. Best of all, they’re a breeze to pack in a suitcase, making them the perfect travel companion for those upcoming summer vacations.


Source: Gravity Blankets

  1. Weighted Robes

If you tend to drag your favorite blankets with you from room to room, you should seriously consider treating yourself to a high-quality weighted robe. A relatively new weighted product on the market, weighted robes are essentially a wearable weighted blanket that you can wear around the house with ease. The best weighted robes have a removable weighted inner that makes washing your robe a breeze. If you decide you don’t want the weight for whatever reason, you can always remove the weighted inner and be left with a cozy lounge essential.


Source: Gravity Blankets

Alternatives to Weighted Products

As mentioned above, deep touch pressure is the primary mechanism behind most weighted products. The gentle compression of weighted products triggers the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s ability to relax. Once this system is activated, our breathing and heart rate slow, and we feel a sense of calm and contentment.

While weighted blankets are a useful tool for relaxation, they aren’t the only way to experience the soothing power of deep touch pressure. Here are a few other ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and restore your inner calm:

  • When you hug someone, your body is flooded with feel-good hormones that make you feel relaxed and happy. It’s also a universally comforting action that makes us feel safe and secure.
  • The next time you’re feeling stressed, treat yourself to a massage. On top of providing soothing pressure, a massage can help melt away stress by relieving muscle tension. Alternatively, you can use a foam roller to achieve a similar sense of relief and relaxation.
  • Compression clothing. Compression vests and other garments are frequently recommended to adults and children with sensory processing disorders.
  • Therapy dogs. Therapy dogs can be trained to use their weight and warmth to provide comfort to people with anxiety and insomnia.

Whether you deal with the occasional restless night or struggle with full-blown insomnia, a weighted product can be a wonderful addition to your nightly routine. These simple, non-drug options can be used day or night, helping you face everyday stressors with ease and settle down for sleep. So, what are you waiting for? Cozy up to a weighted product today and get the deep sleep you crave!