Creators of a new extra heavy blanket have so far raised more than $1.6 million on Kickstarter to launch their product. And their blanket ― along with similar options already on the market ― may be the key to helping you sleep through the night.
The Gravity Blanket is a weighted bedspread with pockets of plastic pellets that cause it to weigh between 15 and 25 pounds. The blanket’s heaviness is meant to distribute pressure all over your body, touching pressure points that some research suggests can relieve anxiety and stress, lulling you into a restful sleep.
The idea behind Gravity Blanket is simple: Take it to bed, and let its heaviness simulate what the company’s founders call “the feeling of being held or hugged” ― not unlike the feeling from those weighted vests used during dental X-rays ― until you drift into bliss.
The product has clearly generated excitement, raising more than 77 times its Kickstarter goal in just eight days.
This isn’t a new invention, however. Occupational therapists have used weighted blankets for years as a tool to reduce anxiety and stress, especially in kids with sensory disorders like autism. The scientific evidence for this is preliminary but positive, Justin Scanlan, an occupational therapist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost. He co-authored a 2012 pilot study in which patients with mild to moderate psychiatric disturbance reported feeling less distress and anxiety after spending time in a “comfort room” with a weighted blanket.
“Those individuals who used the weighted blanket reported significantly greater reductions in distress and clinician-rated anxiety than those who did not,” the study concluded.
People without mental conditions may benefit from the blanket’s deep pressure touch, too, said Rochelle Ackerley, a physiologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She co-authored a 2015 study that concluded weighted blankets may ease insomnia in some adults.
“We have specific receptors in our skin which are tuned to light touch,” Ackerley said. “Such receptors are activated during contact, like a hug. The weighted blanket is thought to provide a similar hugging/cocooning effect and provide a sense of security.”
It’s recommended by several manufacturers that adults choose a weighted blanket around 10 percent of their body weight. Gravity Blanket’s 15, 20 and 25-pound blankets will retail for $279, but you can currently pre-order one for $169 for delivery in October.
Scanlan recommends checking with your doctor before sleeping with a weighted blanket, to ensure it won’t pose breathing or circulation problems.