Should you Buy a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety?
Buying a weighted blanket for your anxiety seems like an easy fix, but will it help? They can cost up to 200 dollars. People who are selling you the blankets will claim that it will reduce your anxiety and help you sleep better and do all kinds of things that it might not.
Where did the idea of weighted blankets for anxiety come from?
Temple Grandin, an autistic woman and incredible writer and advocate, came across the idea of a squeeze or hug machine while on a relative’s farm. She observed the distressed cows become calm while passing through a chute to get a shot. She connected her own distress and the cow’s distress and decided she needed one of these machines. Her squeeze machine became the basis for which many autistic children were later able to be held and calmed. Research does tell us that using deep pressure can calm autistic children.
Professionals use deep pressure touch to help calm children with autism spectrum disorders. This has become the basis for the weighted blanket for anxiety in the nonautistic population.
Weighted blankets are meant to simulate a hug or a swaddle and the comfort that it provides. It’s meant to soothe and the nervous system.
Generally, weighted blankets are safe but don’t try this if you have:
- sleep apnea
- certain other sleep disorders
- respiratory problems or other chronic medical conditions.
Let’s look at what the research says about weighted blankets for anxiety. Evidence-based research on the effectiveness of weighted blankets in reducing anxiety is sparse. We need much more research to help guide us in knowing how to use weighted blankets y and how how to make them most effectively.
Studies on weighted Blankets and anxiety
Below are the three best studies I could find, all three of which are in the references.
- In one study of 32 adult volunteers, 63% reported lower anxiety after lying under a 30-pound blanket for 5 minutes.
- Another study tested weighted blankets and anxiety in 30 people who had been hospitalized for a mental health crisis, and 60% reported lower anxiety after using the blanket. But the markers of their physiology were inconclusive.
- One study of chemotherapy patients demonstrated a reduction in their anxiety when using these blankets to help with anxiety attached to chemotherapy.
This page is specifically about weighted blankets and anxiety, not for other issues. The evidence on weighted blankets for both anxiety and sleep is sparse. Just because there aren’t many studies on weighted blankets for anxiety doesn’t mean that it won’t help you.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want an excuse to buy a new comfortable blanket, and if the idea of nurturing yourself with a purchase like this is appealing to you, and you can afford it, you should do it! At the same time, it’s important to know that we are often the target of marketing, and sometimes the claims they make aren’t true. When I see those blankets, I want them, and I don’t need any more blankets.
References for weighted blanket for anxiety
Mullen, B., Champagne, T., Krishnamurty, S., Dickson, D., & Gao, R. X. (2008). Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects of deep pressure stimulation using a weighted blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24(1),
Champagne, T., Mullen, B., Dickson, D., & Krishnamurty, S. (2015). Evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the weighted blanket with adults during an inpatient mental health hospitalization. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 31(3), 211-233. doi:10.1080/0164212x.2015.1066220
Vinson J, Powers J, Mosesso K. Weighted Blankets: Anxiety reduction in adult patients receiving chemotherapy. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2020;24(4):360-368. doi:10.1188/20.CJON.360-368
Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.