36 In Wellness

You Need to Know About: Weighted Blankets

Blanket details

Weighted blankets (or gravity blankets) have been around for several years, but I’ve resisted buying one for two reasons. First, I’m extraordinarily claustrophobic and I thought I would feel trapped sleeping under one. Second, I’m hot-natured, and I can’t stand to be hot when I sleep. Eventually, I pushed through my reluctance and gave this one from Kalm Koala a try (more on why I chose this particular brand later).

The main reason I persevered with trying a weighted blanket, despite my claustrophobia and hot streak, is their straight up therapeutic effect on anxiety and sleep. I’ve written about my struggles with sleep and anxiety before, and a calming weighted blanket helps me with both. I am all too familiar with the chicken and egg circle of anxiety and sleeplessness… When you’re anxious, you can’t sleep. When you’re tired, it is impossible to fight anxiety. Just one sleepless night can trigger a 30% rise in emotional stress, particularly anxiety. Anxiety at its most basic level is the inability of your brain to get out of fight or flight mode– you aren’t able switch off the adrenaline response and get proper rest.  Instead, your brain is active and future-planning instead of relaxing and participating in the present.

Deep sleep (non-REM or ‘slow wave’ sleep) is critical for stabilising and calming an anxiety prone brain. Matthew Walker, the author of the book ‘Why We Sleep’ (he’s the person responsible for scaring me into perfect sleep habits) says this: “We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by re-organizing connections in the brain. Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night.”

So how do you get deep restful sleep every night? By making quality sleep a priority. For me, cutting back on caffeine (as much as I can) during the day, drinking less/no alcohol in the evening, avoiding screens two hours before bedtime, and by using a weighted blanket to quiet my overactive nervous system at night. When I slide under my Kalm Koala blanket, I immediately feel at ease. My brain has been trained to equate the blanket with sleep. My blanket weighs 6.5 kilos (15 pounds) which is between 7 and 13% of my body weight, the correct percentage. Several friends and family who I’ve asked about weighted blankets have ones that are too hot and far too heavy, so they don’t use them. A 50 pound blanket for an average sized woman is far too much; it’s like sleeping under a German Shepherd! That’s not restful at all. Calculate 10% of your body weight and choose something close. Kalm Koala gives you a calculator here.

Kalm Kolala blanket

My blanket feels like it gives my brain a gentle Shhhhhhhhhhh!  If I’m not feeling well, I make an exception to my sleep-only rule and use it during the day. I double the blanket over to be extra heavy, and relax for a few minutes.

Because I have a son with mild sensory issues, I’ve learned a lot about ‘proprioception’, or the awareness of where your body is in time and space. Your brain is in constant dialogue with your muscles, tendons, joints, and even skin to tell it where you are, exactly. Some people are sensory avoiding, some are sensory seeking. My child is forever seeking movement and balance to give his brain feedback about where he is in space. The brilliant thing about this weighted blanket is the gentle deep pressure it provides to his muscles and joints. It gives his brain the proprioceptive information it likes so he can get deep restful sleep.  Deep gentle pressure shuts down an active nervous system; this is the reason humans have been swaddling squirmy babies for centuries. I imagine it mimics the sensation of being in the womb. I knew a Kalm Koala blanket would be great for my son and his need for sensory input. Unlike me, he’s always been a fairly good sleeper, but I can see an improvement in his sleep after several months of using a weighted blanket. He REALLY looks forward to sleeping under it, and he especially likes the soft tactile cover.

Who else loves this blanket in my house? Unfortunately, my dog. Pippa is a pointy, furry, luxury-seeking missile that will track down the softest and cosiest surface in the house to lounge on. When I go out, I cover my Kalm Koala blanket with a fleece throw or my duvet, hoping to deter her. She will remove the other blankets to get to this whippet-approved one.

Pippa Koala

So why did I choose the Kalm Koala over all of the other weighted blankets on the market? First and foremost, it is environmentally friendly and extremely well made. The eco fabric cover is bamboo and cotton. I didn’t expect it to be as dreamy and soft as it is from that description, but it feels glorious. Second, many weighted blankets on the market are made with environmentally-unfriendly plastic beads; Kalm Koala uses glass. Also, the glass beads are in double stitched panels so you don’t ever hear or feel them when you shift around (which would drive me bonkers) as you do with some other weighted blankets. Third (in case it made me feel claustrophobic) I wanted an easy return policy; this brand happened to have that as well. I did a lot of research before I got one, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with it.  First I got one for my son. I liked using his so much that I got the bigger one for myself.

I know I’ve said all of this before on here, but research from sleep experts like Matt Walker (TED talk) shows us:

  • Avoid alcohol a few hours before going to sleep; alcohol prevents deep brain-enhancing sleep.
  • Do not use screens two hours before bedtime; their blue light disrupts your natural circadian rhythm.
  • Try to sleep and awaken at the same times, even on weekends. You can’t bank sleep or make up for lost hours.
  • Cut down or avoid caffeine altogether (I can’t do this, sorry!).
  • Sleep in a cool room to promote deep sleep.
  • Aromatherapy and scents can cue our brain for relaxation and sleep.
  • Weighted blankets can promote restful deep sleep, especially for those afflicted by anxiety or sensory disorders (raises hand).

This only applies to UK residents (the heaviness of the product doesn’t make shipping to the US economically viable) but if you’d like to try one of these for yourself, I’ve asked the company for a discount code. You’ll get an additional £10 off using the code SEQUINIST at checkout, unless there are better offers on site.  Sweet dreams!

Disclosure- this post contains affiliate links.

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Suzy Turner
    January 28, 2020 at 12:09 PM

    I’m lucky, since getting married I tend to sleep really well (!) but I love the idea behind this blanket. Hubby and I do like to have a relatively heavy duvet on us – even in the summer (in Portugal lol!).
    Sadly, it seems they don’t do super king and that’s the size of our bed!!
    Thanks for the recommendation, Lisa!
    Hugs
    Suzy xx

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 1:14 PM

      Lucky you, being such a good sleeper, Suzy! Yeah, our bed is also a super king sized. The largest Kalm Koala goes from edge to edge but doesn’t have any extra hanging over the sides. It doesn’t seem to be a problem because it doesn’t move much during the night. xx

  • Reply
    Chicatanyage
    January 28, 2020 at 12:28 PM

    Thank you for this. I have been reading about them but you have encouraged me to give one a try so I have ordered one today. I will let you know how it goes as my sleep has been quite restless recently. I was very chilled out during my recent four weeks in France, lots of sunshine, walks and no work. Now I am back in London to the usual stuff!!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 1:12 PM

      Let me know how you get on with it! I absolutely love mine. I’m now worried about travelling WITHOUT one. Will I feel like I’m about to float up and off of the bed?! Wishing you good sleep xxx

  • Reply
    Jean
    January 28, 2020 at 1:21 PM

    Ok, I am convinced. I will research a USA available one. Have meant to look for one. Now I am motivated.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 1:24 PM

      They’re really super; Alexandre and I are completely hooked on them. Just make sure to get one that is not TOO heavy, or you’ll be hot. xx

  • Reply
    Tracy Patil
    January 28, 2020 at 2:23 PM

    This sounds like something I need. I just can’t switch off. Thanks for the recommendation x

  • Reply
    MT
    January 28, 2020 at 2:31 PM

    This makes perfect sense to me. Funnily enough I used to fold my Nans heavy crocheted blanket and place it on top of my babies because the weight calmed them to sleep. I don’t know where I got that idea initially but it’s true babies like to be wrapped or held tightly too. It stands to reason this works as well for adults trying to relax (and feel safe/comfort) in bed at night.
    Thanks for doing all the research and bringing this to my attention Lisa. I would’ve dismissed a weighted blanket on the basis of my menopausal hot flushes before reading this but not now. Off to check out the website for a colour to coordinate with my bedroom.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 3:33 PM

      It really does makes sense, doesn’t it? When someone is upset, the first thing we do is hug them, to create that swaddled feeling. The blanket I have has a side for summer use (cooler and silky) and a soft velvety warm side for winter. I usually keep the cooler side facing me because I still have a duvet on top as well. xx

  • Reply
    Mary Katherine
    January 28, 2020 at 3:08 PM

    Excellent info! My husband and his mother both suffer from anxiety. I got him a weighted blanket that he sometimes gets hot in – I will encourage him to save it for when he really needs it. The info on connections between sleep and anxiety are especially helpful.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 3:34 PM

      I’m so pleased it was useful, Mary Katherine! My blanket has a cool side and a warm side. I don’t know if your husband’s has that, but it is worth investigating if he is too warm in it. xx

  • Reply
    LA CONTESSA
    January 28, 2020 at 4:01 PM

    INTERESTING INFO as ALWAYS!
    SO, they think I have BASILAR MIGRAINES………GOT ANY INFO ON THESE?
    YOU need YOUR SLEEP and I hope this gives you some relief!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR LISA!!!!
    I HOPE IT IS A GOOD ONE FOR BOTH OF US!!!
    I will go SEARCH for them as I have never heard of them before.I am a person who is ALWAYS COLD!Especially my hands and feet!
    XX

    • Reply
      Giselle
      January 28, 2020 at 5:02 PM

      Hey La Contessa … magnesium, vitamin D and Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies can cause and exacerbate those migraines … bathe in a bath with a pound of Epsom Salt 3 times a week, or even rub magnesium oil all over your body nightly – if yours are really bad you can get intravenous magnesium to tip you up, get a good vitamin D with K oral spray and take a CoQ10 supplement … also stay away from trigger foods like MSG, aspartame, gluten, caffeine, yeasts, red wine & beer, cocoa … also the blue light Lisa mentions here really triggers migraines in those susceptible … if you go down the supplemental route look for the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10 and add a good B complex

      • Reply
        Lisa
        January 28, 2020 at 8:45 PM

        Such good advice from my nutrition expert! xx

      • Reply
        LA CONTESSA
        January 28, 2020 at 9:32 PM

        THANK YOU GISELLE.
        I am Gluten Free yeast free and diary free NO alcohol for over a year, No MSG ever……….never HAD A BEER and well Hot chocolate about One a YEAR!SO, I’m on that PLAN for along long time and they have become worse.Mine is not so much the headache as LOSING MY VISION FIRST than the headache comes……..and I can function with it.But I feel like I have been hit with a truck!
        I will LOOK INTO THESE OTHER THINGS THANK YOU!
        XX

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 8:51 PM

      Hello Elizabeth! No, but I will keep my eyes peeled now that I know you suffer from them. My sleep is SOOOOOOOO much better now that I have a range of strategies to work with. Really, it is the best it has ever been in my life.

      Happy New Year to you, my love. Let me know if you find a good weighted blanket in the US. There must be loads. xx

  • Reply
    Stephanie Ashworth
    January 28, 2020 at 4:13 PM

    I am so glad to know there is a formula for the correct weight. I tried a 20lb which I bought for my son(appropriate weight for my 200lb boy) and felt a bit uncomfortable. Putting that back on his bed and getting one the right size for me!
    You have the best recommendations. I bought Bright Line Eating since I am addicted to sugar, booked with Red Leopard and now getting the right blanket size to sleep better. Thanks again, Lisa!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 8:49 PM

      Yes, I’m sure you don’t need a 20 pound blanket, Stephanie!! I am thrilled you like my recommendations. My husband calls me a ‘truffle hunter’ because I’m good at digging up good things 🙂 I can’t wait for you to see Red Leopard. I am so confident you’ll learn so much and have a great time. xx

  • Reply
    Giselle
    January 28, 2020 at 5:02 PM

    Probably explains why I’ve always found a nice heavy duvet so comforting … I shall explore this!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 8:46 PM

      Yes, and for someone so claustrophobic, I’ve always found those heavy blankets dentist put on you for x-rays very pleasant. That was what made me think I could handle on of these. xx

  • Reply
    No Fear of Fashion
    January 28, 2020 at 5:55 PM

    They sell these in The Netherlands as well. Same conditions and also glass, cotton and bamboo. They recommend a blanket per person rather than 1 super king size one. So you know it is really to your weight.
    As you know, I am one of the lucky ones and sleep like a baby. So I won’t order one. But should any problems arrive, I now know what to do.
    Sleep tight my friend.
    Greetje

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 28, 2020 at 8:45 PM

      I think doing it per person is actually a much better idea! I’d probably do that if I had to buy another one. You really are a lucky lady to be such a successful sleeper! I am now too 🙂 but I work hard at it. xx

  • Reply
    Anna
    January 28, 2020 at 10:00 PM

    Turns out mine is too heavy. Sigh. I do like getting tucked under it to read, but for sleeping it’s too much. I wind up roasting, which exacerbates my sleep trouble.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 29, 2020 at 11:46 AM

      So many people I know buy them too heavy, thinking more weight must be better. Try a light one, or maybe only use your heavy one on your lower half? xx

  • Reply
    mithra ballesteros (@findernotkeeper)
    January 28, 2020 at 11:20 PM

    Very interesting read. I’d gladly try that blanket as long as it’s on your beautiful bed with elusive London sunshine slipping through the window and Dreyer’s English at the ready if I can’t immediately drop off. Seriously, the only heaviness I can bear while sleeping is on my feet… those neverending hot flashes!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 29, 2020 at 11:47 AM

      Dreyer’s English is ALLLWAYS beside my bed; what an amazing book that is, isn’t it? I understand a weighted blanket may not sound like the most enticing idea if you’re having hot flashes. I’ve not got into those… yet. xx

  • Reply
    Mica
    January 30, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    It looks like such a great product! I’ve heard a lot of good things about blankets like these but haven’t tried them yet! it’s nice this works for you 🙂

    Hope that you are having a great week 🙂

    • Reply
      Lisa
      January 31, 2020 at 10:46 AM

      They’re certainly worth a try if you have issues with sleeping, anxiety, or anything sensory related. Thank you Mica! xx

  • Reply
    whatlizzyloves
    January 31, 2020 at 2:41 PM

    Oh Lisa, as a fellow insomniac and hater of being too hot in bed, this sounds perfect. It looks gorgeous too. Beautiful photos and so lovely to see Pippa!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      February 20, 2020 at 9:32 PM

      I can’t live without my blanket now, I’ve reverted to full toddler on this!! Thank you 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    Catherine , Not Dressed As Lamb
    February 2, 2020 at 7:24 PM

    Lisa I LOVE the idea of sleeping under a German Shepherd so maybe the 50lb blanket would be for me, hehe! 😉

    Seriously – this really does sound like the most luxurious and comforting way to sleep. I know how claustrophobic you are so it must be worth its literal weight in gold if its helping you that much. Definitely one to consider – thank you for such a fantastic review and recommending this!

    Catherine x

    • Reply
      Lisa
      February 20, 2020 at 9:33 PM

      Haha, I’m sure Suki will be happy to play German Shepherd drape herself over you in your bed. Pippa sure does with me! 🙂

      Thank you, darling xx

  • Reply
    Little Red
    February 20, 2020 at 5:16 AM

    I know that I can only really fall asleep when I pull the covers on my bed over my head. While not quite the same thing as a weighted blanket, I think it does the same thing, signal my body that it’s time to sleep.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      February 20, 2020 at 9:31 PM

      Ohhh, I love doing that on a cold night, pulling the covers entirely over my head! xx

  • Reply
    Stella
    February 21, 2020 at 7:12 AM

    Ah, I desperately need a “Shhh” to my brain every time I go to sleep. I was thinking a lot about if I should get a weighted blanket and now I am sure I need one. Do you know if they ship to Greece or France?
    xoxo
    Stella

    • Reply
      Lisa
      March 4, 2020 at 5:50 PM

      I don’t think this company ships to Greece or France, but you’ll find brands who do. Alexandre and I are both total converts to weighted blankets. I don’t know how we’ll sleep when we travel, because we can’t take them with us! xx

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