Weighted Blankets for Seniors. Are Helpful for Insomnia?

Are weighted blankets for seniors safe and are they really helpful for conditions such as insomnia?

Restless sleepers know that the struggle they experience every night is not only real but also extremely frustrating. Keep in mind that the use of weighted blankets and different kinds of pillows are only two of various options to address your sleep struggles, so it is always best to first check in with your physician. This comparative review presents popular options on the market for seniors.

What are Weighted Blankets?

Weighted Blankets For Seniors
YnM Weighted Blanket

Wikipedia describes a weighted blanket as a blanket filled with heavy pellets. These pellets may be beads, glass, grain (rice or buckwheat). To ensure even distribution, manufacturers sew these weights and other materials into specialized pockets within the blankets.

These blankets are claimed to reduce anxiety and allowing the user to fall asleep more quickly. How?

There is some limited evidence that the gentle pressure these blankets exert on the body appear to trigger the production of serotonin (a feel-good chemical) giving the “warm fuzzy feeling of hugging or swaddling” which many claim to help relieve the symptoms of certain conditions (Shortsleeve 2019).

Cast your mind back to being tightly tucked into bed as a child….Remember the feeling of warmth and security? Same idea.

Previously, they were used to treat people with special needs – occupational therapy for managing autistic children, but they have become extremely popular with adults for assistance with both insomnia and anxiety.

Many people are also unaware that weighting is the reasoning used to create the “Thundershirts” marketed to help keep dogs less fretful during anxiety creating events like thunderstorms.

NOTE: Weighted blankets are MUCH SMALLER THAN NORMAL BLANKETS AND WILL NOT COVER THE ENTIRE BED OR HANG OFF THE EDGE OF THE BED.

Getting used to a weighted blanket typically takes 2 – 7 days, so don’t get frustrated after your first night of use!

Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

How to Choose a Rollator
Safety is important

As with any blanket used by seniors, weighted blankets are generally safe as long as the blanket is not pulled over the face (Mullen et al 2008). The reason for this is obvious.

Because the blanket is weighted and heavy, it is usually not easy to pull over the face. Feeble seniors and the elderly should, however, use the lightest weighted blanket to avoid becoming trapped underneath the blanket, or injured if they are unable to remove the blanket in a situation where they may feel too hot and uncomfortable.

Positive Effects of the Use of Weighted Blankets For Seniors

Insomnia is a common occurrence and can have a negative effect physiological, psychological and social well-being. It can also be a recipe for falls in seniors and the elderly (refer to a previous article – Arthritis and insomnia – A recipe for falls.

Weighted blankets have been used to provide benefits for people with insomnia and anxiety, but the research is scarce (Harvard Women’s Health Watch 2019)

In one study, weighted blankets and vests were found to provide a beneficial calming effect, especially in clinical disorders. Ackerley et al 2015 found that the length of sleep time increased with a corresponding decrease in restless movements of participants in a study using weighted blankets.

Some additional benefits that may occur include:

  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Increasing sleep quality
  • Reducing stress
  • Reducing symptoms of certain conditions such as arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease

What to Look for When Buying Weighted Blankets For Seniors

Consider the following when shopping for your weighted blanket.

Comfort

Find a blanket made from a material that you find comfortable – lightweight, cotton, bamboo, hypoallergenic, or soft and plush.

Note that blankets made with natural materials are recommended over blankets made with synthetic fibers. Natural materials are more breathable, and synthetic fibers tend to be much hotter, which can make sleep uncomfortable.

Manufacturers Recommendation

The manufacturers recommend that you buy a weighted blanket that weighs approximately 10% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 100-lbs, then a 10-lb blanket is ideal.

Do not fret if your calculation is not as exact as this example. Within a 7-12% range is acceptable. You do not want the blanket being too heavy to make it uncomfortable. If you are unsure, start off with a lighter weight.

Size

If you plan on sharing your blanket with a partner, you do not want to be in a constant tug-of-war contest. Why? Some blankets are poorly constructed and may cause the pellets to pool to one side of the bed.

Weighted Blanket for Seniors
Cost can be a decisive factor

Look for a blanket that is between 20 and 30 lbs. In this case, it is might be preferable to use two smaller individual sized blankets to avoid the reduced pressure which may occur in a single King or Queen blanket. Moreover, these bigger sized blankets are generally not easy to move anyway – speaking from experience!

Oversize Blankets

Do not purchase oversize blankets which hang over the side of your bed (for twin or double size) for the following reasons:

  • The larger size means that the weight is more spread out and the pressure you will feel will be reduced
  • The weight can cause the blanket to fall off the bed during the night

Cost

The price of the blankets is largely based on the size and weight you select to buy. Various sizes are available. It is preferable that you take measurements of your bed BEFORE ordering. This will ensure that you order the correct size and that you do not have to deal with lugging this heavy blanket back to the post office for a return!

Duvet Cover

Most weighted blankets are not sold with an accompanying duvet cover. You will have to purchase it separately. A previous article Duvet Covers for Weighted Blankets – Selection Tips provides you with all you need to know about buying a duvet cover for your weighted blanket.

A Quick Comparison of Popular Weighted Blankets For Seniors

There are literally hundreds of weighted blankets and duvet covers being marketed to consumers. It can be overwhelming to wade through all of their specifications and consumer comments to find the one which suits you best.

LUNA AND YnM BRANDS

A quick comparison of the more popular 15lb 60″x80″Queen size or the 20lb 80″x 87″Queen/ King size weighted blankets on the market is presented below. Click on the dollar sign ($) to review other sizes and weights. Remember to keep your “wants” in mind as you review them. Also, check for more detailed reviews of select brands under the Review category of this website.

Luna Adult Weighted Cooling Blanket

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
Luna Adult Weighted Cooling Blanket

PROS

  • Lots of color and pattern options
  • Hypoallergenic, soft breathable layers
  • Oeko-Tex certification: Contains no toxic chemicals and is safe for animals
  • Eight ties for secure fastening to duvet covet
  • Hand wash or machine wash cold on gentle setting

CONS

  • Not suitable for sensitive joints or back pain
  • Does not come with a washable duvet cover. Need to purchase separately
  • Only King size is good for sharing
  • Because of its popularity, stock is quickly sold out

YnM Weighted Blanket (Cotton or Bamboo)

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
YnM Weighted Blanket (Cotton or Bamboo)

PROS

  • Come in cotton and pure bamboo breathable outer shells
  • Lots of size, color, and pattern (25) options
  • Glass bead fill and additional fiberfill and fabric layers have pocketed quilts for even distribution and also prevent leaking
  • Tight weaving of outer shell prevents soaking through of accidental spills
  • Ties to hold duvet cover in place are sturdy
  • Machine washable

CONS

  • Does not come with a washable duvet cover. Need to purchase separately
  • Only the King size is good for sharing on Queen or King beds

COMHO, HYPNOSER AND WEIGHTED IDEA BRANDS – Weighted Blankets For Seniors

COMHO Weighted Blankets – Cooling OR Cooling & Warming

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
COMHO Weighted Blankets – Cooling OR Cooling & Warming

PROS

  • Sold as cooling or premium (cooling and warming versions)
  • Cooling version is 100% cotton, soft and breathable
  • Nano-ceramic beads can reduce the noise created by movement when you toss and turn in bed
  • No bead leakage: glass beads are evenly distributed across the blanket

CONS

  • Limited stock – Only 5lbs and 20lb are available for the cooling version
  • Only Premium comes in 15lb as the cooling and warming version
  • No removable washable duvet cover in the cooling version. Must be purchased separately
  • Weighted blanket comes in a single color – grey
  • Confusing care instructions are provided by the manufacturer

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
HYPNOSER Weighted Blanket

HYPNOSER Weighted Blanket

PROS

  • Soft cotton is breathable
  • Has small square pockets which are used to distribute weights evenly
  • Tight stitching ensures no leakage of weight pellets
  • Single dark grey color
  • Machine wash

CONS

  • No removable washable duvet cover. Need to purchase seperately
  • Cannot be dry-cleaned
  • Needs more loops and ties inside the cover to keep the blanket and cover together

WEIGHTED IDEA Blanket

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
WEIGHTED IDEA Blanket

PROS

  • 100% Cotton
  • Machine washable on gentle setting and “air dry”
  • Blanket has many pockets to distribute weight evenly
  • Comes in 6 color styles, different sizes and weight to meet different needs

CONS

  • No removable, washable duvet cover. Purchase separately
  • Few complaints about some bead dust leakage
  • Queen size is too small for two people. Require a King size
  • Blanket attracts pet fur

Other Popular Weighted Blankets For Seniors

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
Fuzzy Weighted Blanket – Dual Season (Summer and Winter)

FUZZY AND MOONSTONE BRANDS

Fuzzy Weighted Blanket – Dual Season (Summer and Winter)

PROS

  • Has 2 removable, washable duvet covers – summer and winter options: both are easy to change and wash well
  • Blanket distributes weight evenly
  • Nano beads are quiet – make no noise
  • 5 colors
  • Machine washable: weights come out for washing so you do not destroy the washing machine

CONS

  • Sizing runs small; Couples, require a King and not a Queen size
  • Not for sufferers of back pain

Moonstone Weighted Blanket with Removable Cover for Compression Therapy

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
Moonstone Weighted Blanket with Removable Cover for Compression Therapy

PROS

  • 100% Cotton with removable minky layer
  • Provides cooling and warming for summer and winter options
  • Non-toxic hypoallergenic glass beads
  • Glass beads are secured in polyester pockets for even distribution across the blanket
  • Removing the minky cover creates a cooler blanket which allows hot sleepers to stay drier and cooler in the summer
  • Has 8 tie-downs to keep the 2 layers together throughout the night and keep weight distribution even
  • Ideal for anxiety, stress and insomnia

CONS

  • Only one color combination: Grey and blue

ZON LI AND BUZIO BRANDS – Weighted Blankets For Seniors

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
Zon Li Cooling Weighted Blanket

Zon Li Cooling Weighted Blanket

PROS

  • 100% natural breathable natural cotton
  • Filling is non-glue polyester padding and hypoallergenic, non-toxic, odorless glass beads
  • Blanket distributes weight evenly
  • Appears helpful for chronic back pain and eliminates tossing and turning
  • Fabric material is not soft to the skin and needs purchase of a separate duvet cover

CONS

  • Weight size sometimes not heavy enough for recommended 10% of body weight
  • Size tends to run small. Order larger size so the feet can also get coverage
  • Tends to attract fluff in the air and is difficult to dry clean

BUZIO Weighted Blanket with Flannel and Premium Ceramic Beads

Weighted Blankets for Seniors
BUZIO Weighted Blanket with Flannel and Premium Ceramic Beads

PROS

  • Reversible – super soft fleece top and plush Sherpa reverse
  • Anti-static, anti pill
  • Hypoallergenic non-toxic, odorless glass beads
  • Extra fabric layers – Sherpa layer wraps 2 extra polyester layers to avoid leakage of the beads with no noise coming from shuffling of the beads during movement
  • Comes in 8 different colors

CONS

  • Directions provided for cleaning and care are confusing – Instruction insert state machine wash, but tag says dry-clean and spot clean.
  • Very good for winter but can sometimes feel too hot in the summer

In Conclusion

Weighted blankets for seniors and elderly use is safe, however, they are not for everyone. While they may provide relief for insomnia, anxiety, stress and other conditions, some people cannot tolerate a heavy blanket pressing them down. Older and more feeble adults are generally encouraged to start with a lighter weight until they get used to it.

Most weighted blankets are not sold with duvet covers. Duvet covers are removeable for easy washing will protect your weighted blanket so that it lasts for several years. A good starting point is a previous article: Duvet Covers for Weighted Blankets – Selection Tips. Check it out!

Related Articles

Arthritis and Insomnia. A Sure Recipe for Senior Falls

What is Arthritis? Focus on Seniors

Weighted Blanket Review. Popular Rated King Sizes

Duvet Covers for Weighted Blankets. Best Selection Tips

References

1.Ackerley, R., Badre, G., & Olausson, H. (2015). Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. J. Sleep Medicine and Disorders 2(3): 1022

2. Harvard Women’s Health Watch 2019 Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help. Harvard Health Publishing

3. Mullen B et al (2008). Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket. Occup.Therapy in Mental Health 24(10: 65-89 https://tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J004v24n01-05

4. Shortsleeve, C (2019). Trouble Sleeping? Try a Weighted Blanket. https://saatva.com/blog/do-weighted-blankets-work-sleep-experts-weigh-in

18 thoughts on “Weighted Blankets for Seniors. Are Helpful for Insomnia?”

  1. Hi Ceci,

    I don’t own a weighted blanket, but by brother’s girlfriend has one, and I can tell from the five minutes I tried it out how soothing it would be to sleep with, so I have no doubt that they work exceptionally well. I have trouble falling asleep without any kind of blanket on, and the weighted blanket greatly amplifies the feeling of being tucked in.

    My brother’s girlfriend loves hers, and they actually have a thunder shirt for their dog too, which they swear by. So, anyway, I have to second your recommendations, not just for seniors or people with anxiety or insomnia, but also for young people and anyone who experiences a decent amount of stress in their normal lives.

    Thanks for such an informative article, and for going over so many weighted blanket options!
    ~Jade

    Reply
    • I am glad you already know about the benefits of weighted blankets. Honestly, if you approach how you buy one by carefully reviewing the listed requirements to determine type, weight and size, you should be able to get one that will help relieve insomnia due to stress and anxiety.

      And yes, weighted blankets can be used by children, teens, youth, and adults other than seniors alone as long as the correct weight is selected.

      Reply
  2. Interesting article about weighted blankets. I have to admit that I haven’t spotted this yet, and when I read your article, I’m amazed at how many different variants it is and excited about all the positive effects.
    But it is also true, as you wrote, that it is not for everyone, it is up to the individual to judge whether such a weighted blanket suits him or not.
    You presented the types perfectly, listed the positive and negative effects, and attached some links to these blankets. This article should be read by anyone considering buying.
    Friendly greeting,
    Nina

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by Nina! Weighted blankets can be quite helpful with insomnia. You need to select the correct weight and size to benefit from their use.
      Ceci

      Reply
  3. I’ve been looking to get one of these for a friend with insomnia, it’s more of a light form than anything and he’s not elderly age but I’ve heard good things about these weighted blankets! Would you recommend it to a middle-aged guy as well who’s looking to step their comfort level up and possibly reduce insomnia?

    Great article!

    Reply
    • Hi Julius,

      Weighted blankets are used by people of all ages – including children, with weight and blanket size being the differentiators. Weighted blankets come in weights ranging between 5lbs and 30lbs. Your friend should start off with the 15lb weight. He can always step this down for an exchange to 12lbs or get a bigger blanket size with the 15lb weight.

      Thanks for stopping by. You can sign up for our newsletter if you would like to to be kept abreast of other new and exciting articles!

      Ceci

      Reply
  4. Hi Ceci,
    i had never heard of a weighted blanket before. Ans the fact that it helps in Arthritis and Insomnia is incredible. I know many people especially the elderly around me who have sleeping problems. I will definitely recommend this to them. And of course i will try one out.
    My question is though, can you just buy them or you need a doctor´s consult before? Thank you for sharing.

    Regards

    Janet

    Reply
    • No harm in seeking your doctor’s advice before trying this out to give you peace of mind. They are however perfectly safe if you follow the instructions and select an appropriate weight and size for your own body weight.
      Ceci

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for this extremely helpful article, Ceci! I care for my disabled mother, and she unfortunately deals with bad anxiety (she’ll often keep herself up at night, overworrying about things). I’ve been thinking about alternative ways to help her that don’t involve taking pills (she does have prescribed medication, but I don’t want her to become addicted to pills). The idea of the weighted blanket is very intriguing-if Mother is warm and comfortable, she’s definitely more likely to fall (and stay) asleep. I will definitely look into your products! God bless you!

    Reply
  6. Wow, I have to say I never thought about this topic but it makes me feel glad that there is so many options out there for people that might be interested in this sort of product, maybe I’ll get my grandma one 🙂

    Thanks for a very comprehensive review, you’ve obviously put a lot of work into this.

    Reply
    • I’m sure your grandma will love one! Just make sure that you get her the right size, weight and whether cool or hot for her body weight. You don’t want to get her a cooling blanket if she is always feeling cold!
      Ceci

      Reply
  7. Hi Ceci,
    An extremely interesting and informative article on Weighted blankets. It seems like a therapeutic blanket, the pressure from that extra weight will surely relax the nervous system, relieve pain, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.

    Truly amazed how you listed a wide variety of weighted blankets with their pros and cons, which can be considered by an individual while purchasing it.

    These blankets have calming effects, they feel like a hug, they ease stress and insomnia. We all need proper rest, sleep to live a happy and healthy life, this blanket will surely change our life.

    Very nice;

    Thanks for it
    Have a Nice Day!

    Reply
    • Glad that the article provided you with value. Weighted blankets are truly therapeutic – if you buy by weight, size and whether for cool or warm hugging.
      Ceci

      Reply
  8. I came across the weighted blanket phenomenon just recently and thought it sounded like a brilliant idea. I loved being tucked up in bed as a child (with blankets rather than a duvet) and find modern duvets too light.

    My Mum used to go on about the modern ways of bringing up babies – i.e. not being wrapped up tightly! She said the best way to get babies to settle is to wrap them up!

    Thanks for providing so many tips – I had no idea there was so much to think about when selecting and using one of these. I will look into it further.

    Many thanks,

    Jean

    Reply
    • Weighted blankets are really great not only for seniors BUT you need to ensure that you follow the tips for selection. You don’t want to sleep under a heavy load! If done correctly (size, weight etc.), you will absolutely love your blanket. I love mine!
      Ceci

      Reply
  9. Hello Ceci, thank you for your interesting article that resonated with me, because insomnia is a topic I’ve been interested in for years due to quite a few friends of mine (of all ages) suffering from it. However, I have to admit that I’ve never heard of weighted blankets before, so I’m glad I’ve read your post and have something extra to recommend to my friends. I was rather intrigued to learn that they can be filled with material such as glass or grain; I know this is a silly and a funny question, but wouldn’t grain, such as rice, attract mice..?
    The fact that the weight of the blankets can trigger the production of serotonin is also very interesting. To some people, it may perhaps sound a bit far-fetched, but personally, I love the heavy feeling of my thick duvet, it makes me feel happy, cosy and safe, and I do believe the feeling is caused by increased serotonin levels.
    If I suffered from insomnia, I would definitely try these blankets a go, but would combine their use with tools too, such as essential oils, natural remedies, breathing techniques, meditation, exposure to a lot of daylight, exercise in the first half of the day, and gentle yoga or other stretching techniques in the evening. Thanks again for such an interesting read!

    Reply

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