Weighted blankets have seen a surge in popularity over recent years. What started as a niche phenomenon has become mainstream, and is now sold commercially worldwide.
While weighted blankets have been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety and limit tossing and turning at night, they do come with some drawbacks.
These drawbacks have led many troubled sleepers to seek alternatives to cumbersome (and often expensive) weighted blankets.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why weighted blankets may not be right for everybody, and some alternatives that might work for you.
The Theory Behind the Weighted Blanket
Why are weighted blankets so popular? Well, the idea behind weighted blankets was born out of a societal need. The root of the idea is known as Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS).
Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS)
Many people have experienced the feeling of waking up buried underneath a mountain of warm, cozy blankets. It makes us feel calm, secure, and peaceful.
These feelings are very similar to those we experience when we receive a warm, gentle hug. There is a physiological reason for this.
DTPS is firm, gentle pressure applied to the body that helps relax the nervous system, inducing a sense of calm.
Similar to the effects of receiving a hug, DTPS decreases the effects of the sympathetic nervous system arousal, helping to drive down stress hormones like cortisol.
DTPS has also been shown to promote the production of serotonin, a mood-stabilizing hormone. This is why this pressure therapy is known to help reduce feelings of anxiety while improving sleep quality.
This is the theory and practice that weighted blankets were born out of, first applied in autism. They’ve since branched out and are used by a wide array of people.
Drawbacks of Weighted Blankets
While the theory behind weighted blankets is solid, the blankets themselves aren’t for everyone. Here are the most common complaints when it comes to weighted blankets.
- They’re costly – Weighted blankets can carry a price tag of $200, and that is on the lower end. Many of the top brand price tags demand much more. The price also goes up depending on weight, so the high cost often makes people think twice before purchasing.
- Overheating while you sleep – Weighted blankets are known for trapping body heat throughout the night. Most simply, they aren’t breathable due to the material that’s used to create the weight. Cuddling up in a make-shift mini sauna is not quite ideal for sleep quality considering better sleep comes with cooler sleeping.
- Size can be a little much – Some weighted blankets weigh around 30 pounds. Now, kicking off blankets in the middle of the night is not uncommon, so imagine hauling up a 30-pound weighted blanket from the floor at 3:00 a.m. — need we say more?
- They don’t travel well – The size and bulk of weighted blankets mean that they don’t pack well. This makes traveling with one quite an ordeal — most weighted blankets would probably require their own carry-on.
- Washing them is tough – Most weighted blankets require special care for cleaning since their weight makes them difficult to clean in most residential washers. While some do have covers that you can remove to wash (washable duvet), this does not get the entirety of the blanket clean.
5 Weighted Blanket Alternatives
While the practice of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation can be very valuable to many people in terms of improving sleep quality, weighted blankets aren’t ideal for everyone. Here are five alternatives that may be worth trying.
1. A Pile of Blankets
The therapeutic concept behind the weighted blanket has to do with creating pressure on the body. A similar effect can be created using multiple blankets.
But sometimes, the idea of layering multiple blankets is not feasible.
Instead, some people choose a comforter or duvet that has a removable cover. Blankets can be placed inside the cover to replicate the “weighted” effect — usually, three extra layers is what will do the trick. The downside to this is the potential for trapping heat.
2. A Wool Blanket
Wool blankets tend to be quite heavy, much heavier than other materials like cotton or silk. Sleeping with a wool blanket can provide you with some added pressure while you sleep, but they also tend to be a bit itchy.
Putting a wool blanket on top of your regular sheets may do the trick to avoid an itchy night. A wool blanket also provides more warmth. Due to the material, wool is not breathable and tends to be rather warm. This alternative might work best during fall or wintertime.
Equestrian blankets are another option (if you have access to some). These are also rather weighty.
It may sound silly, but bean bags offer an alternative to expensive weighted blankets. You can find some bean bags that weigh around 20 pounds. But how do they work?
Well, sleeping with bean bags on top of you is impractical, especially if you’re the type that moves a lot during the night, but if you have a comforter with a cover, you may be able to place the bean bag inside.
Some people have even sewn two blankets around a bean bag, but this requires a sewing machine — and a lot of patience.
4. Get Creative With Your Comforter
If you have a comforter with a cover, your possibilities open up. For example, some people put bath towels inside of the cover to create a weighted effect. Putting heavy clothing inside the comforter can work, too — think those puffy winter jackets you only whip out to use in the snow.
It may sound unorthodox, but people have also spread books or magazines between the comforter and the cover. These could be distributed throughout the cover, creating the pressure needed to mimic the weighted blanket effect, though we can’t promise it’ll be all that comfortable.
5. Try the Sleep Pod
Creating the effect of a weighted blanket is possible, but requires a little creativity. The problem for some is that many of the alternatives are not always practical.
The Sleep Pod solves this problem.
While weighted blankets rely on weight to create pressure to give users the calming, relaxing effect, the Sleep Pod relies on compression — it’s the blanket that hugs you back.
The Sleep Pod utilizes the same therapeutic idea of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation to aid in relaxation and relieve feelings of anxiety. Its cocoon-like shape was designed with better sleep in mind.
It also solves the issue of trapping too much heat while you sleep. The Sleep Pod, made from a specialized 4-way stretch material, is ultra-breathable and lightweight. The Sleep Pod Move is designed for even more mobility, allowing total feet freedom during the night if you want it.
The Sleep Pod is also machine washable along with your regular clothing, and requires no special care. It also solves the issue of portability and travel, requiring about the same suitcase space as a T-shirt (but we won’t judge if you want to wear it during your flight, too).
Weighted blankets have had a rise in popularity in recent years, thanks to the therapeutic benefits of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation.
But, despite their popularity, they don’t always make for a practical choice for a lot of people. For one, weighted blankets can be costly. They also have a habit of trapping heat, which generally isn’t conducive to restful sleep.
Thankfully, there are some alternatives for those looking for the benefits of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation but are reluctant to go with a weighted blanket.
Some alternatives require a little creativity, while others — like the Sleep Pod — are made specifically with better sleep and practicality already in mind.
Ready to ditch the idea of a weighted blanket weighing you down? Get your own Sleep Pod here!