Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

Last Updated On December 13th, 2023
Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Weighted Blankets: Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation, mimicking a firm hug or swaddling. They aim to promote calmness and relaxation, aiding in better sleep and reducing anxiety. Safe use involves choosing an appropriate weight and size, considering individual factors.
  • Components and Working Mechanism: Weighted blankets use small beads or pellets to create pressure evenly across the body. The therapeutic technique of deep touch pressure stimulation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation. Benefits include enhanced sleep quality and anxiety reduction when used correctly.
  • Safety Concerns and Precautions: Risks include suffocation hazards, circulation and breathing issues, and the potential for ill-fitting blankets. The recommended weight is around 10% of the individual’s body weight, with proper fit being crucial. Consultation with healthcare professionals is vital, especially for specific populations like children, elderly individuals, and those with medical conditions.

Weighted blankets, sometimes called gravity blankets, have gained popularity in recent years, promising a myriad of benefits from improved sleep to reduced anxiety. If you experience recurring sleep issues from being unable to simply relax and fall asleep fast, a weighted blanket may offer relief.

But, with their increased weight, many people are left wondering: Are weighted blankets safe? Let’s delve into this topic and uncover the truth.

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Understanding Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets, as the name suggests, are heavier than your typical blanket, usually weighing between 5 and 30 pounds. They are designed to provide a therapeutic technique known as deep pressure stimulation, mimicking the feeling of a firm hug or swaddling.

A small weighted blanket can be particularly suitable for those who prefer a lighter touch. This gentle pressure is intended to promote feelings of calm and relaxation, aiding in sleep and reducing anxiety.

However, like any product, certain considerations are crucial for safe use, especially when choosing the right weight and size for the individual.

Components of Weighted Blankets

To create the weight in these blankets, manufacturers use small, uniform beads or pellets, which are sewn into pockets within the fabric. These fillings, commonly made of plastic pellets, glass beads, or ceramic beads, snugly fit around the contours of your body, allowing the blanket to evenly cover you and provide the desired therapeutic effect.

How Weighted Blankets Work

You might wonder how these uniquely constructed blankets promote relaxation and sleep. The key lies in a therapeutic technique known as deep touch pressure (DTP) stimulation, which is thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of the nervous system responsible for promoting relaxation and calmness.

The weight from the blanket provides this deep pressure, leading to a calming and relaxing response, thereby promoting a state of rest and relaxation.

Safety Concerns with Weighted Blankets

There are numerous benefits of weighted blankets, but they also come with potential risks. Misuse or incorrect choice of a weighted blanket can lead to suffocation, breathing difficulties, and circulation issues. Additionally, the fillings used in these blankets could pose a choking hazard, particularly for young children.

Therefore, understanding these risks and learning to use a weighted blanket safely is vital for ensuring weighted blankets safe usage.

Suffocation Hazards

One of the key risks associated with weighted blankets is the potential for suffocation, particularly for infants and young children. The weight of the blanket may be too much for a small child to move, leading to an increased risk of suffocation.

Circulation and Breathing Issues

Using a weighted blanket that is too heavy can also negatively affect circulation, restricting blood flow and potentially causing discomfort or numbness in the limbs. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with pre-existing respiratory or circulatory conditions, such as asthma or sleep apnea.

Selecting the Appropriate Weight

The general guideline for choosing the correct weighted blanket weight is it should be approximately 10% of your body weight.

So for a 150-pound adult, a blanket weighing around 15 pounds would be ideal. For children, sleep experts recommend adding an additional one to two pounds to this 10% figure for safety.

Ensuring Proper Fit

Fitting is another crucial factor when considering a weighted blanket. Unlike a duvet, you don’t want an over-large covering that drapes over the sides of the bed. The blanket should fit the person and not the bed, ensuring that it distributes the weight evenly over the person’s body and not fall off to the sides of the bed.

Also, an ill-fitting weighted blanket can lead to discomfort and even health issues like ankle and Achilles issues.

Benefits of Using Weighted Blankets

When used correctly, despite the safety concerns, weighted blankets can offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Enhancing sleep quality
  • Alleviating anxiety
  • Providing comfort and security, especially for individuals with certain conditions such as anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, or ADHD.

Sleep Quality Improvement

One of the most significant benefits of weighted blankets is the improvement in sleep quality. The deep touch pressure provided by the weight of the blanket stimulates the production of mood-boosting hormones and reduces stress and anxiety levels, promoting relaxation and aiding in falling asleep.

A 2021 study Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source has shown positive outcomes, with participants experiencing insomnia from mood disorders using a weighted blanket for four weeks and noticing a significant decrease in insomnia severity.

Anxiety Reduction

Weighted blankets also play a vital role in reducing anxiety. The gentle pressure applied by the blanket stimulates the senses of touch and helps the brain adjust to it, potentially leading to a sense of relaxation and increased control over anxiety.

One study observed that 63% of participants reported decreased anxiety after lying under a 30-pound blanket for 5 minutes, which may help them fall asleep faster.

Choosing a High-Quality Weighted Blanket

Considering these safety concerns, what’s the safe way to use a weighted blanket? The key lies in selecting the right weight for the individual user and ensuring the blanket fits properly.

So considering the quality of the weighted blanket you intend to purchase is crucial. Factors to consider include the filling type, durability and construction, and whether it is made from non-toxic materials.

Filling Type

When selecting a weighted blanket, the filling type is an important consideration. The quality of the fillings and the type of material used can affect the level of deep touch pressure and the cuddling effect provided.

Durability and Construction

Durability and construction are also crucial factors when selecting a weighted blanket. A high-quality weighted blanket should have a sturdy construction and use high-quality materials to ensure it lasts for many years.

Non-Toxic Materials

Finally, selecting a weighted blanket made from non-toxic materials is paramount to ensure the safety and well-being of the user. Toxic materials can lead to skin allergies, respiratory issues, and other health issues, while non-toxic materials, such as natural fabrics and microglass beads, reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous substances.

See also The Ultimate Non-Toxic & Chemical-Free Mattress Guide

Precautions for Specific Populations

Although weighted blankets can provide benefits to many, it’s important to take certain precautions for specific populations. These include children, elderly individuals, and those with specific medical conditions.

Children and Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are not recommended for children under 2 years old. They carry a risk of suffocation which could be dangerous. A child should be of school age, over 50 pounds, and capable of pushing aside the weighted blanket on their own.

You may wish to use one, though, if you have a child with ADHD Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source or autism. For older children, the blanket should be approximately 10 percent of their body weight, plus one or two additional pounds to ensure safety. However, make sure it’s not too heavy for a child to move it.

Elderly Individuals and Weighted Blankets

Elderly individuals can use weighted blankets, but it’s advisable to use the lightest blanket available to reduce the risk of becoming trapped or injured. As with all populations, the blanket should be approximately 10% of their body weight for safety.

A 2022 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that older people in nursing homes using weighted blankets led to improvements in their health, especially in terms of better quality of life and sleep. The blanket could be a good way to help older people without using medications, as the study showed a decrease in the need for certain medicines.

The study also found positive effects on various aspects of their lives, like daily activities and thinking abilities. However, more and bigger studies are needed to fully understand how weighted blankets affect the health of older people over time.

Medical Conditions and Weighted Blankets

Certain medical conditions that may preclude the safe use of weighted blankets include:

  • Poor skin integrity or open wounds
  • Circulatory issues such as asthma, low blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic respiratory or circulatory issues

Therefore, it’s always advised to consult with a medical professional before using a weighted blanket if you have a medical condition.

If you’re given the green light, ensure that the weight of the blanket does not compromise breathing or exacerbate any existing posture issues. It should provide a comforting sensation without causing discomfort or difficulty in breathing.

Mobility Issues and Weighted Blankets

Whether a weighted blanket is suitable for someone with mobility issues depends on the specific nature and severity of the mobility issues. For those with difficulty moving, a population Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source that’s not simply limited to the elderly, it’s crucial to choose a blanket that they can comfortably manage without causing strain or injury.

If an individual has difficulty lifting or maneuvering the weighted blanket due to mobility issues, it may be impractical or even unsafe for them to use it independently. In such cases, assistance may be required.

Who Can Benefit from Weighted Blankets?

Who stands to gain the most from using weighted blankets? While most healthy adults can safely use weighted blankets, they may be particularly beneficial for people with anxiety disorders, autism, or ADHD.

Individuals with Anxiety Disorders

Individuals with anxiety disorders Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source may find that a weighted blanket provides a non-medicated, natural way of reducing their symptoms. The benefits of using a weighted blanket for anxiety include:

  • Alleviating anxiety
  • Providing a sense of calm
  • Promoting better sleep
  • Reducing restlessness
  • Improving focus and concentration

The deep pressure stimulation, also known as deep pressure therapy, provided by the blanket can help alleviate anxiety Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source and provide a sense of calm, contributing to a good night’s sleep.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADHD

Similarly, people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may find weighted blankets beneficial, as a 2021 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source . These blankets can help stabilize and modulate sensory input, reducing anxiety and providing calming and soothing sensory input.

A 2017 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that using pressure on the skin seems to help many young people with autism and severe intellectual disability. However, not everyone benefits the same way, and the study concluded that more research is needed to figure out who would benefit the most from this kind of therapy.

See also ADHD and Sleep Problems: A Comprehensive Guide.


Are weighted blankets OK for infants?

Weighted blankets are generally not recommended for infants. Infants have specific safety needs, and the use of weighted blankets may pose a risk of suffocation or discomfort. It’s crucial to prioritize a safe sleep environment for infants, following guidelines provided by pediatricians.

Who should not use weighted blankets?

Individuals with certain health conditions, such as respiratory or circulatory issues, should consult with a healthcare professional before using a weighted blanket. Additionally, those who have difficulty moving the blanket on and off themselves or have temperature regulation issues should exercise caution. Lastly, younger children with developing, fragile bodies shouldn’t sleep with a weighted blanket, though older children and teenagers can.

Are there any risks with weighted blankets?

While weighted blankets are considered safe for many individuals, there are some risks to be aware of. These include the potential for difficulty breathing if the blanket is too heavy, challenges in regulating body temperature, and the risk of injury if the user has mobility issues. It’s essential to choose an appropriate weight, follow usage guidelines, and, if in doubt, consult with a healthcare professional.

Is it safe to use a weighted blanket every night?

For most people, using a weighted blanket every night is safe and can provide therapeutic benefits. However, it’s crucial to choose the right weight for the individual’s body, ensuring it is not too heavy. If there are any concerns or underlying health issues, seek advice from a healthcare professional before making it a nightly routine.

Is a 20 lb weighted blanket safe?

Yes, a 20 lb weighted blanket can be safe for use, but it’s important to consider individual factors such as body weight, age, and personal preference. The generally recommended guideline for choosing a weighted blanket is around 10% of the user’s body weight. Therefore, a 20 lb blanket would be suitable for someone weighing around 200 lbs.

However, individual comfort levels vary, and some people may prefer a slightly heavier or lighter blanket. It’s essential to pay attention to how comfortable and manageable the weight feels. If the blanket feels excessively heavy or causes discomfort, it may not be the right fit.


Weighted blankets can provide numerous benefits, from improved sleep to reduced anxiety. However, it’s important to understand the potential risks and take precautions to ensure safe usage.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before using a weighted blanket if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns. When used properly, a weighted blanket can be a valuable tool for relaxation and improved sleep.

About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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