Can weighted blankets quell bedtime anxiety? I tried one to find out


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Photo: Gravity Blankets

In case you’ve missed the kicker of every mattress commercial ever, here’s an existential crisis-inducing fact for you: Everyone spends about one-third of their lives either asleep or tossing and turning in an attempt to do so. I’d be willing to bet that, for me at least, the split between struggle and success lands at about 50/50. Even though I take a nightly five-milligram dose of melatonin, a combination of work and school (I’m earning my MFA on the side) has made my pre-snooze anxiety flare up lately. And when I turned to the sleep-tech industry to see if any solutions out there could rekindle my committed relationship with Mr. Sandman, one option stood out.

Enter weighted blankets: Quilted cocoons designed with “deep pressure touch” (DPT) that has been found to decrease anxiety, improve sleep quality in insomniacs, and act as an aid in soothing children with autism. Though many companies now sell this peak hygge snooze aid, I’d heard the most about Gravity Blankets, so I decided to put the company’s space grey blanket, which costs $320, to the test.

The first decision I make is to select how heavy a blanket I want to drape over my comforter for the course of the experiment. Mike Grillo, Gravity’s co-founder and president, advises choosing an option that weighs in at about 7–12 percent of my body weight. And since I sit squarely between the 15-pound and 20-pound options, I go ahead and size up. When the blanket arrives about a week later, my first thought is man is this thing heavy. I take it home on a JOMO kind of Friday night when I have zero plans apart from catching up with Riverdale. (I also make the unfortunate mistake of getting the blanket shipped to work, and therefore have to lug it home at rush hour on the subway here in New York City. Would not recommend.)

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Sweet dreams are made of this 😴

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My limited plans for the evening turn out to be for the best, since once I heave the blanket on top my bedspread and crawl under it, I literally cannot convince myself to get up again. The fabric feels like its made of the same material as a teddy bear. And even though yes, it’s heavy, I feel more light-hearted than I have in a while. If you’ve ever sat on beach sand and let someone build you a mermaid tale (just me?), the weight of the blanket feels kind of like a less-sandy version of that. And according to Grillo, it’s so darn comforting because the DPT actually causes your serotonin (a happiness hormone) to spike, while simultaneously lowering cortisol (the stress hormone).

Needless to say: I leave my bed as infrequently as possible that night. I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and wide awake, though my unconscious fidgeting has caused the interior part of the blanket to slip down in its cover. It’s tedious to make all the corners meet again when the blanket weighs so much, but I do appreciate that since the blanket and slipcover are separate pieces, I can easily wash the exterior when it starts to get grimy.

If you’ve ever sat on beach sand and let someone build you a mermaid tale (just me?), the weight of the blanket feels kind of like a less-sandy version of that.

The best part of the blanket though? It does seem to dull the anxious inner-monologue that often kicks up around bedtime and has been known to wake me up in the early morning. I usually treat any insomnia with endless rounds of square breathing. But instead, I try to take a mindfulness tip and focus my attention on the weight of the blanket. And so far, the technique has worked almost every time my to-do list has made a surprise visit in my dreams. No, it’s not a solution to chronic insomnia, but it does keep, say, 7–12 percent of my nighttime worries away. And hey, that’s a major upgrade for the one-third of my life I’ll spend between the sheets.

The first thing you should do after a crappy night’s sleep? Chug some water. And checking out this genius zzz’s tip from the army that’s way more effective than counting sheep

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