How to Choose a Weighted Blanket? The Ultimate Guide

Last Update: April 4th, 2019    Author: Rachel Green and Wendy Rhodes

How to Choose a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blanket sales have skyrocketed in sales over the past year. With claims that they can improve the quality of sleep, help stabilize blood pressure, increase circulation, and help with a host of neurological and brain-based disorders including anxiety and autism, weighted blankets are in high demand. Many brick-and-mortar and online retailers alike struggled to keep these miracle makers in stock over the holiday shopping season. Even celebrities have been gushing on social media about how much better they sleep with their weighted blankets.

What are Weighted Blankets?

So, what exactly are these new blankets that are all the rage? Simply put, they are exactly what they sound like - blankets with weights.

Also, they are not all that new. Occupational therapists have been prescribing weighted blankets to help manage sensory-related symptoms for decades - especially for children and adults on the autism spectrum.

It just took a while for others to catch on to the amazing benefits that these blankets have to offer.

While they are, essentially, heavy blankets, they differ greatly in design than just an oversized quilt or comforter. Weighted blankets are comprised of several pockets filled with little weighted objects such as beads or pellets.

These individual pockets are sewn shut and stitched together like a patchwork quilt. This quilting method helps evenly distribute the little weights all over the body.

The evenly distributed weight will stimulate the pressure points throughout the body, signaling them to calm the nervous system. The calming effects of weighted blankets on the nervous system is what helps manage anxiety and sensory-related issues caused by Autism Spectrum Disorder. This sense of calm can also help encourage the body to fall asleep more quickly.

Another way weighted blankets can improve the sleep/wake cycle is through the production of serotonin. Often called “the happy hormone”, serotonin also produces melatonin, which is the chemical needed for sleep.

Increased levels of melatonin in the brain help ensure a good night’s sleep and also naturally restore the body’s circadian rhythm.

Many weighted blanket users also report that they feel more rested in the mornings when they awake. This refreshed feeling after sleeping with a weighted blanket is attributed to melatonin.

Since weighted blankets are a must-have due to their multiple benefits for the mind and body, let’s take a look at some of the different considerations to make when purchasing a weighted blanket.

How Heavy Should A Weighted Blanket Be?

One of the first questions asked when consumers are considering which weighted blanket to purchase is, “How heavy should the blanket be?” When purchasing a weighted blanket, we always first follow The 10% Percent Rule.

The Ten Percent Rule

A general rule-of-thumb for weighted blankets is 10 percent of the person’s body weight. For children, many occupational therapists recommend a blanket that is 10 percent of their body weight plus 1 to 2 additional pounds. Remember, this formula is not really a “rule.” It is just a guide and the recommended starting point.

The purpose of a weighted blanket is to provide comfort and, thereby, create body conditions conducive to sleep. If someone is uncomfortable due to a blanket that is too heavy, the weighted blanket will have a counterproductive result.

While a weighted blanket should not be so heavy that it is unmanageable, it also should be heavy enough to apply the appropriate amount of pressure to the body’s deep touch pressure points.

Finding the perfect weight for one of these blankets can be a little tricky, but it is usually best to start at 10 percent of the person’s body weight and adjust the weight as needed from there.

Many manufacturers recommend using a weighted blanket that is 10 percent of the body’s weight for safety reasons, but many consumers report that adding an extra few pounds only enhances its benefits.

Sharing Weighted Blankets

Because the weight of a blanket and its effectiveness largely depend on the individual using the blanket, it is not recommended that family or friends share weighted blankets with those who differ dramatically in size.

For instance, a parent co-sleeping with a child should not lay their 25 pound blanket over a 40 pound child. Conversely, a 240 pound adult will not benefit from a child’s six or eight pound blanket.

If two individuals who are similar in size (no more than 20 pounds apart), they might find it beneficial to try each other’s blankets and see if different weights work better for them.

Blanket Weight Chart

We have clarified that a general formula for calculating how heavy a weighted blanket should be is 10 percent of body weight, but slight deviations from this formula is permissible. Below is a chart that will show the recommended blanket weight its corresponding body weight.

WeightBlanket Weight
20 lbs - 40 lbs3 lbs - 6 lbs
30 lbs - 50 lbs4 lbs - 7 lbs
50 lbs - 70 lbs6 lbs - 9 lbs
70 lbs - 90 lbs8 lbs - 10 lbs
90 lbs - 110 lbs9 lbs - 11 lbs
110 lbs - 120 lbs11 lbs - 12 lbs
120 lbs - 130 lbs12 lbs - 13 lbs
140 - 160 lbs13 lbs - 14 lbs
160 lbs - 180 lbs14 - 16 lbs
180 - 200 lbs18 - 20 lbs

Safety Concerns

Because sleep is a compromised state in which an individual does not have complete control over his or her faculties, there are some safety precautions to take when using weighted blankets, especially for young children and individuals with underlying health issues.

First of all, children weighing less than 20 pounds should never use a weighted blanket of any kind. Children and infants under the age of two years-old should not use weighted blankets, even if their body weight exceeds 20 pounds. Children under the age of two do not yet possess the fine motor skills to instinctively adjust heavy blankets. A child could easily become overheated or fail to pull the blanket away from his or her face to breathe.

Children should not use adult-size weighted blankets. A child should be able to pull the blanket on and off easily and without any help. If it is too heavy for a child to manage, it is simply too heavy.

Do not use weighted blankets as a way to restrain children or force them to use it even if they do not want to. Weighted blankets should be independently administered. The goal of Deep Touch Pressure and weighted blankets is a calming effect that comes from a sense of safety. Forcing someone to use a weighted blanket against his or her will is counterproductive and will only cause anxiety, further complicating insomnia and other sleep-related issues.

Precautions should also be taken for children with special needs or developmental delays. While weighted blankets are widely recommended for kids with sensory-related problems and autism, extra precaution should be taken to ensure that the child is able to maneuver the blanket on his or her own before falling asleep.

No weighted blanket should exceed two pounds more than the recommended 10 percent of body weight for children.

For adults with underlying health issues, particularly the elderly, extra care is needed as well. Make sure that blankets are not too heavy for individuals of advanced age. Pay special attention to weak arms or legs that may feel trapped under the weight of the blanket or be unable to adjust it properly throughout the night.

As with children, if the weighted blanket is too heavy for an elderly person to administer on his or her own, then it is simply too heavy.

Choosing the Correct Size

Choosing the Correct Size Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are available in a variety of sizes and dimensions. Just like the weight, the dimensions of a weighted blanket are customizable and should fit the person underneath it. The 10 Percent Rule applies to weight and The Chin-to-Feet Rule applies to dimension.

Rather than shopping for a bed size such as twin, queen, or king, shop for the individual using the blanket. A weighted blanket should only be long enough to reach from a person’s chin to their feet. The width should be wide enough to comfortably cover the person underneath it.

Sometimes, people prefer to only have their upper body covered, such as from the chin to the knees. Covering the upper body can still stimulate pressure points that calm the nerves and help improve symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and circulation.

Some people prefer to only cover their lower body such as the feet to the abdomen. Draping a weighted blanket over the lower body can increase circulation and can be especially helpful in managing symptoms related to Restless Leg Syndrome. For individuals suffering from RLS, it may not be necessary to cover the whole body, but weighted blankets can be enormously beneficial for calming and soothing the nerves in the legs at night.

For treating RLS-induced insomnia, consider using a weighted blanket from chin to feet, as treating the whole body with Deep Touch Pressure is extremely helpful in treating insomnia.

When considering the appropriate size of a weighted blanket, also consider mobility issues. Will the weighted blanket be used primarily for sleeping on a bed? If so, a larger blanket may be the best option. If the blanket will be used during travel time, such as a long car ride or flight, consider a smaller blanket.

Small blankets for travel can be an especially good option for individuals who suffer from ADHD. Small weighted blankets are also great for those who have anxiety about flying in airplanes, as draping the blanket over the legs or even wrapping up in it during take-off have calming and reassuring effects.

Most manufacturers and retailers will have sizing charts listed on the product packaging or on the product website. Often, widths are listed between 30 to 38 inches for children and 36 to 40 inches for adults.

For reference, a twin-size mattress is 40 inches in width. Some weighted blanket manufacturers offer extra wide blankets up to 64 inches in width - over five feet.

As for length, most manufacturers list kid-size blankets between 42 to 60 inches long and adult size blankets between 50 and 80 inches long. As always, preference is key. Different people with different needs will choose different lengths for their blankets. Here is a general guide for choosing weighted blanket length based on individual height.

HeightLength
5’ - 5’4"50” to 56”
5’4” - 5’8”54” to 60”
5’8” - 6’2”58” to 66”
6’2” +64” +

When selecting weighted blankets for kids, remember that they will grow. Parents and caregivers do not really need to be reminded of this, but while they are used to planning ahead for clothes and shoes, it may be unusual to plan growing room for blankets.

Parents may want to purchase slightly longer blankets so that kids get more use out of them.

Many manufacturers recommend that children under the age of six not use a blanket over 44 inches long. For kids over the age of six, the blankets size can be determined by preference or need. Still, children should not use an adult’s weighted blanket. It may be tempting to save money and have them use a parent’s blanket, but for safety reasons weighted blankets should be appropriately sized for children.

How Thick is a Weighted Blanket?

Because weighted blankets are stuffed with weights and have filled pockets, they are noticeably thicker than average blankets. The type of fabric and the type of weights used as filler will affect the thickness and density. Some common fillers for weighted blankets include pellets, poly-pellets, beads, or rice. Because the weights are distributed evenly, weighted blankets should still lay evenly and look proportionate. Depending on the type of filler used as weights, the blanket will usually be about one inch thick.

Dimension and Body Weight Proportions

As far as dimensions are concerned, the height and width of a blanket can be selected purely on the basis of preference. A 50-inch blanket will feel different on individuals who are 5’4” and 6’4”, respectively.

Another consideration to make when selecting the size of a blanket is the presence of sensory issues. Since weighted blankets are common therapy items for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder, considering what size a blanket should be is of special importance.

Some people with these disorders will not feel comfortable with certain parts of the body covered or vice versa.

Similarly, some individuals prefer to have their feet uncovered while they sleep and some prefer to have their feet covered completely. These are all factors in selecting the right weighted blanket.

One more factor that will determine the size of the blanket is the size and thickness of the pocketed squares after they are filled with weight and stitched together. A 10-pound blanket that is 36 by 48-inches will be thicker than a 10-pound blanket that is 40 by 52-inches in size.

For blankets that have larger dimensions, sometimes it helps to increase the weight by a pound or two, as well.

Sizing Kids’ Blankets

Remember, the basic formula for choosing the proper weight of a weighted blanket is 10 percent plus one to two pounds. Most children sleep in twin-size beds that are approximately 38-inches wide and 75-inches long.

Still, it is best to find the size that will best fit the child and not the child’s mattress. It bears repeating that no child under 2 years-old should us a weighted blanket for any reason.

Determine whether the child needs to be covered from chin to feet or from chin to knees. For kids with sensory-related issues, they may prefer to be covered from chin to feet, absorbing the calming effects of Deep Touch pressure all over the body.

For kids with ADHD, covering from chin to feet may feel too oppressive at first and they may be able to calm themselves with just having their upper body or just their legs covered.

Most importantly, the child must feel comfortable and consent to using the weighted blanket. Forcing a child to try something that makes them uncomfortable initially will make them anxious and have counterproductive results. Just like adults need to wind down and relax before bed, so do kids.

Give them some time to try out a weighted blanket in short intervals leading up to bedtime so they are familiar with it.

Never, ever use a weighted blanket as a restraint. Weighted blankets are not a tool for immobilization; they are a tool for soothing and calming. Packing on multiple blankets or using adult -size weighted blankets can have dangerous - even fatal - consequences.

Use weighted blankets correctly and size them appropriately for the right results.

Queen and King-Size Weighted Blankets

As we have emphasized, it is important to select blankets that fit an individual rather than the individual’s bed. Does the mattress have anxiety? No. Does the bed frame suffer from insomnia? No.

The bed does not need a weighted blanket. The person sleeping in it does!

Do not waste the multiple therapeutic benefits of Deep Touch Pressure on a weighted blanket that drapes over the side of the mattress like a bedspread.

Every square inch of weighted blanket that is not benefitting the body is wasted. Not only is it impractical from a therapeutic standpoint, but it is also a waste of financial resources to purchase a blanket that fits a bed rather than a person.

Weighted blankets can be quite expensive, costing significantly more than a typical quilt or comforter. They should not be used on the margins of a bed for aesthetic purposes.

To understand why weighted blankets are beneficial to the human body, let us examine first how weighted blankets use Deep Touch Pressure to benefit both the mind and body.

Deep Touch Pressure refers to the technique in which firm, yet gentle, pressure is applied evenly to soothe the nervous system. DTP has great benefits for a variety of issues, including anxiety and insomnia. The most common benefit of DTP through weighted blankets is its effective management of insomnia. This is the primary reason weighted blankets became so popular so quickly.

Since weighted blankets were specifically designed with the human body in mind, it makes sense to size them according to the body’s needs and not the bed’s size.

Furthermore, an oversized weighted blanket will disrupt the effects of the DTP. For instance, if a 20-pound blanket is distributed over a 60-inch queen-size mattress, roughly 30% of the blanket’s mass is weighted down over the edges of the bed, with nearly half of its force being pulled away from the individual. The weight needs to be concentrated over the body and not spread out too far.

Skip the queen and king-size weighted blankets. Instead, pull out a tape measure and measure the person, determining what dimensions are needed to properly cover the body. Step on the scale and calculate 10 percent of the body’s weight. Use measurements and weight as a starting point for finding the right size blanket.

Sharing Weighted Blankets

For an adult couple sharing a weighted blanket in a queen or king-size bed, make sure that the individual’s body weights do not differ too drastically. For instance, a 120-pound person will probably need a completely different weight for Deep Touch Pressure than an individual weighing 220 pounds. In instances where weight is drastically different, it is not a good idea to share a blanket. Also, consider how a blanket’s total weight will be divided between two people. For instance, if both a husband and wife prefer an 18-pound weighted blanket and decide to cut costs by sharing one, the blanket will have to be twice as wide. So, at best, each person will have only approximately nine pounds of DTP on his and her individual bodies. That weight is nowhere near the originally ideal weight of 18 pounds. Not to mention, the cost of making a blanket wide enough for two people will cost almost as much as buying two separate blankets. For these reasons, it is best that every individual have their own weighted blanket and ensure appropriate weight distributions.

The Biggest Weighted Blankets

California king-size mattresses are the largest standard mattresses available at 72-inches wide and 84-inches long. These dimensions are four inches narrower and four inches longer than a standard king mattress.

It is possible to purchase large weighted blankets in a California king size, although it is not recommended because of the DTP arguments discussed above.

Again, sizing is primarily a preference-based decision. Most weighted blankets available on the market weigh between 15 and 30 pounds. They can be customized to any weight, however.

Try to make sure that the weighted blanket is not too heavy to maneuver, especially at night. A blanket exceeding 30 pounds may be too much for anyone handle in their sleep. Use common sense precautions when looking for oversized weighted blankets. It may sound cozy, but actually be oppressive when in use.

Choosing the Fabric for a Weighted Blanket

Weighted Blanket Features and Fabrics

Weighted blankets can be made from a variety of fabrics. Flannel, fleece, satin, polyester, velvet, and cotton are just a few examples. As with selecting the best size for a weighted blanket, choosing a fabric usually depends on preference.

There are a few factor to consider before making the final selection, though.

First, consider temperature. For someone who is cold-natured and loves to bundle up in warm pajamas or heavy blankets, a fabric that holds in heat may be a good choice, like flannel or fleece.

For someone who breaks out in night sweats or is experiencing hormonal changes like menopause, a lightweight cotton blend may be a better fabric choice.

Another option is to have a warm, flannel blanket for the cold winter months and a cooler, breathable blanket for the summer months. Obviously, this will require purchasing two different blankets, which will cost more.

After considering temperature, think about texture sensitivities that can influence what type of fabric is needed. For individuals with sensory-related issues, cotton or satin fabrics are often preferred, but everyone is different.

If a weighted blanket is not available in the preferred material, consider a duvet-type cover that will fit over the weighted blanket.

If not a duvet, some sensory-friendly sheets can hug the body while the weighted blanket is situated on top of the sheep. Ideally, weighted blankets would conform to the body without a sheet underneath for maximum Deep Touch Pressure effects.

However, as anyone with sensory preferences will understand, sometimes sensory motivated alterations are unavoidable.

Finding a Filler

Perhaps equally important to choosing the correct size and fabric of a blanket, is finding the right filler. The tiny objects used as weights in the pockets of a weighted blanket help determine its weight and, sometimes, its feel. The most common weights/fillers are poly-pellets, glass beads, and sand.

Poly-pellets are tiny, round pellets made from virgin plastic materials that have not been exposed to other chemicals and toxins. Poly-pellets serve their purpose as a weighted filler, but they can seem a bit noisy.

Glass beads are high quality filler options. The type of glass beads used in weighted blankets are so small they resemble salt crystals.

Sand is an effective, affordable filler for weighted blankets. Keep in mind that sand does not wash well, thought. When it comes into contact with water, it can swell and become lumpy. This can affect both the look and feel of the weighted blanket.

Rice is an inexpensive filler popular with many DIY-ers making their own weighted blanket. But like sand, other organic materials and food such as rice, beans, and pasta do not wash well. For a more durable, high quality filler, try glass beads or poly-pellets.

Many manufacturers offer organic and inorganic fillers. Some organic fillers may help absorb and conduct heat better than inorganic ones. Inorganic fillers, in contrast, tend to be much cooler.

Also, in today’s world of manufacturing regulations and safety guidelines, even inorganic materials are not allowed to be manufactured with such levels of dangerous chemicals that they cannot be safely used in moderation.

How Much Should Weighted Blankets Cost?

While it is true that weighted blankets are usually significantly more expensive than regular blankets or quilts, purchasing a weighted blanket should be considered more of an investment.

The physical benefits of weighted blankets, because of Deep Pressure Therapy, can outweigh the costs of insomnia in many different ways. Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease, not to mention an increase in daytime accidents such as car crashes.

The monetary cost of a weighted blanket is almost certainly less than the cost of a few doctor’s co-pays for any of the above mentioned illnesses. The long-term effects of insomnia related illnesses - including anxiety and depression - can drain both the finances and the emotions.

Is it possible to put a price tag on a good night’s sleep?

Most weighted blankets cost over $100, with many of them running upwards of $200. Even if it is an investment, most Americans have a budget they need to stick with and it is important to make an informed decision regarding big ticket items.

Fabric and fillers help determine the cost of a weighted blanket, with organic fillers typically being more expensive. Size is also a big cost factor. Regardless of materials used, a smaller blanket is almost always cheaper than a larger one.

If weighted blankets are still not an affordable option, consider some manufacturers who offer trial periods, or at least a money-back guarantee.

Also, many medical insurance policies cover some or all of the cost of a weighted blanket because of its health benefits. Talk with a doctor about a weighted blanket prescription for issues like anxiety, circulation, or Restless Leg Syndrome and see if insurance will help pay.

Since they are considered a medical expense, weighted blankets are often tax-deductible, as well.

Finding a High Quality Weighted Blanket

Since weighted blankets are a health investment, it is important to make a wise investment. The best way to choose a high-quality weighted blanket that is worth its cost is by first doing research.

Research ways that size, fabric, and filler can determine quality. Think about what the primary use of the weighted blanket will be and research what the best qualities are to meet those needs.

Choosing a good manufacturer is also key. A quality weighted blanket will not come from a sub-par manufacturer. Research different manufacturers and read the reviews and feedback on their websites.

Always find a manufacturer that offers at least a 14 day money-back guarantee (30 day windows are even better) to ensure good quality and good results from the weighted blanket.

Do Weighted Blankets Need a Cover?

If a lot of care has gone into selecting the fabric and texture of a weighted blanket, consumers might not want or need a cover.

However, if the blanket is going to be used on a daily basis, a washable cover can come in handy. High quality covers, like high quality weighted blankets, can be pricey. Some consumers rely on inexpensive or homemade covers that do not cost as much money up front. This can be a great option for saving money initially.

Keep in mind, though, that a good quality cover could be purchased for the price of a couple of cheaper covers that have worn out. Sometimes, quality will pay for itself over time by saving money and hassle in the long run.

Consider what fits best into the budget and make the best decision.

For some, it is better to invest in a high quality cover up front. For others who will not use their blanket every day, a cheaper cover may suffice, or it may not need a cover at all.

For some individuals, especially children and the elderly, waterproof covers can be a great investment that properly protects a weighted blanket. For large blankets that do not always fit in a washing machine, the ability to wipe of a cover without worrying about the blanket’s condition is a huge time-saver.

Waterproof covers do not hinder the blanket’s Deep Touch Pressure techniques and they can come in sensory friendly materials for texture sensitive individuals.

Buying a Weighted Blanket Cover

Some of the same factors to consider with choosing a weighted blanket should also be considered in choosing a cover.

It is important that the fabric be tolerable to skin sensitivities and maintain the desired temperature. Some weighted blanket manufacturers offer bundle deals that include both a blanket and a removable cover as a set.

If purchased separately, covers often cost upwards of $50, but the final cost is ultimately determined by the quality of the cover and manufacturer that makes it.

Where to Buy a Weighted Blanket

With their popularity at an all-time high, it is pretty easy to find a weighted blanket these days.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online retailers offer a variety of blankets, sizes, fabrics and fillers in a range of prices. Amazon, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and Kohls, and Target are some popular retail choices. Some of the products on Amazon come with the option of free shipping. Many bigger department stores have ship to store option that is free.

When purchasing online, make sure to read the reviews and any other feedback such as shipping or customer service issues. It is important to do adequate research before shopping online.

To customize blankets, Etsy is a great site to check out. Keep in mind that, while it is fun and helpful to personalize the details of an order, that does typically make it more pricey. It also takes longer. So, plan on waiting longer for the weighted blanket to arrive in the mail when it has been customized.

Weighted blankets remain in high demand which can also mean backorders or longer wait times for customized blankets.

Shopping in a store can offer an up-close look at a product, but still do some online research before buying. Unlike online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores do not have people standing next to the item and offering first-hand knowledge of how it works. That is a benefit that only comes in the form of online reviews.

Luckily, pretty much everything has an online review. Just do some online research or ask around before doing that in-person shopping.

Maintaining a Weighted Blanket

Different fabrics require different care. Some material can be easily washed in the washing machine or cleaned at home.

The weight of a blanket will also determine the best way to clean it. Generally, if a blanket is less than five pounds, it can be washed in a washing machine.

Keep in mind that washing it too frequently will help deteriorate the weights inside the pockets, so weekly washings may not be a good idea. For larger blankets, hand wash and air dry at least four times a year, and in between as necessary.

Conclusion

Weighted blankets offer an abundance of health benefits, especially in the treatment of insomnia.

With weighted blankets’ popularity at an all-time high, there are more options than ever before for buying and customizing weighted blankets.

When shopping around for the right blanket, first consider the need. What is the weighted blanket being used to treat? Does it need to cover the whole body or only part?

Next, consider the materials. Does the blanket need to have a certain fabric or texture? Does it need to hold in heat for a cold-natured person or does it need to be breathable for the warm-natured individual? What type of filler will be the most effective and durable?

Also, consider the budget. What is a reasonable price for this particular size? Would it be wise to purchase a cover? What kind of reviews does the manufacturer have? Lastly, what maintenance will be like. Should it have a waterproof cover? Can the fillers in the blanket be washed easily? Is it too heavy for the washing machine?

These are all questions and considerations that should be taken with care. Remember, a weighted blanket is a health investment. Use this guide to make a wise investment. Reclaim sleep with a weighted blanket and reap the benefit for months and years to come.