Choosing a weighted blanket is about more than colourful, cosy covers or the cute dog advertising them on your social feeds. Touted as the drug-free solution to a lot of ills, including stress, anxiety and insomnia, the world of weighted blankets can be a tempting one. But how to choose the best weighted blanket for you? Luckily, we've got a guide for that.
Here we'll run you through everything you need to consider before opening your wallet, from how your body weight affects the right size weighted blanket to the choice of filling.
What is a weighted blanket?
Let's start with the basics: what a weighted blanket actually is. Like the name suggests, a weighted blanket is a heavy blanket. But that doesn't mean they're a large duvet / doona. Weighted blankets have a special design that involves lots of small pockets filled with little weighted things, like plastic or glass beads.
These pockets are individually sewn shut and together, a bit like a patchwork quilt. This means that the weight of the beads is distributed evenly across your body. They can't move around because they're contained in their own individual pocket. This evenly distributed weight is then intended to provide deep pressure stimulation, which can soothe and calm the nervous system.
What is a weighted blanket good for?
If you've spotted a weighted blanket on your Insta feed, it's probably an ad about getting a good night's sleep or falling asleep quicker. Weighted blankets are touted as a cure for insomnia as well as helpful in managing stress and anxiety.
That's only a recent phenomenon though. (You can thank Gravity Blanket for bringing weighted blankets to the public consciousness when they launched a Kickstarter back in 2017.)
In fact, weighted blankets have been prescribed by occupational therapists for decades as a way to help manage sensory-related symptoms, including children and adults on the autism spectrum.
It's the way a weighted blanket calms the nervous system that's thought to help manage stress, anxiety and sensory issues. And it's this sense of calm that can help encourage your body to fall asleep quicker, hence the insomnia claims.
How heavy should a weighted blanket be?
The number one thing you should be looking for when buying a weighted blanket? How heavy it is.
The general rule is: a weighted blanket should be 10% of your body weight. In Australia, there isn't a standard weighted blanket size. Each manufacturer offers different sizes and they normally provide weight guidance to help you pick your ideal weight.
If you find yourself between weights, we recommend sizing up to the heavier blanket.
However, this 10% general rule is just that: general. A weighted blanket should provide a comforting hug, but shouldn't feel uncomfortably heavy. If it's too heavy, you'll probably have trouble sleeping as your body won't be relaxed.
Another thing to consider with choosing a heavier blanket is that if it's too hot and you want to remove it in the middle of the night, it can be hard to kick off. If you're buying a weighted blanket for a child or someone with mobility issues, make sure they can easily remove the blanket by themselves. You might want to go for a lighter one, to be on the safe side.
You won't really know if a weighted blanket is the right size for you until you try to sleep under it. This makes it difficult to try before you buy. Look for manufacturers that offer a free trial so you can try it in the comfort of your own home and receive a full refund if it's too heavy or light.
How to choose a weighted blanket
You've sorted the weight you need, now what? Here are the other things to consider when picking your perfect weighted blanket.
Most commercial weighted blankets (i.e. not homemade ones) are filled with either glass beads or plastic poly pellets.
- Glass beads are a high quality filler option. They're also tiny: about the same size as grains of sand. They're heavier than plastic pellets but smaller and take up less space, so the finished blanket is normally thinner.
- Plastic poly pellets are bigger than glass ones, making blankets filled with them slightly bulkier. Made from virgin plastic, they should be free from chemicals and other nasties. Plastic pellets can be slightly noisier than glass ones.
You're unlikely to notice any real difference between glass and plastic. Some manufacturers prefer plastic simply because it's cheaper.
Weighted blankets tend to have 2 cover material options:
- Bamboo (or lightweight cotton).
For hot sleepers, a bamboo cover is breathable and can be cooling on hot nights. You'll want to avoid minky covers, although these come into their own in winter. Thick fluffy minky covers can provide plenty of warmth and comfort.
Some companies include covers, others offer them as an add-on.
Removable, machine washable cover
If you're using your weighted blanket every night, make sure it's got a removable cover - especially a machine washable one. Pet fur, food crumbs and accidental liquid spills can all damage your cover so regular cleaning is important.
Weighted blankets themselves might not always be suitable for the washing machine, as washing them can cause the filling to clump together. Check the care instructions to see what's possible (and then read how to wash a weighted blanket).
Weighted blankets come in a range of sizes. But rather than shopping your bed size, you should shop for the person who's going to use it. A weighted blanket should only be long enough to cover from underneath a person's chin to their feet. It should only be wide enough to comfortably cover the person underneath it.
You don't have to have a full-size blanket. You might only want your upper body covered (chin to knees) or your lower body (tummy to feet).
Consider how you want to use your weighted blanket. If it's for the bed, you'll want a larger one. Make sure it doesn't hang off the side of the bed though. That can cause the blanket to slide off during the night. If you're unsure about the right size for your bed, try sizing down from your mattress. So, a queen mattress could try a double and a king could try a queen.
If it's for travel (like long car rides or a plane journey), a smaller one could work.
Number of sleepers
A lot of couples like to share a weighted blanket. This works fine if both sleepers are around the same size and weight. But you wouldn't want to share a heavy adult's weighted blanket with a small child. While a child size blanket wouldn't provide many benefits for an adult.
If you're similar in size, choose the ideal weighted blanket by calculating your average body weight and then applying the 10% rule.