The wonders and won’ts of an anti-anxiety blanket

We tested out a product that’s full of promise for people with sleep and anxiety disorders.

Weighted blankets can be a weighty question for those who suffer from anxiety. The theory with these blankets is that they can ease anxiety through Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS).  The weight of the blanket is said to mimic the feeling of being hugged, swaddled or cradled — like you’re a big baby. The problem is that they often cost $300 or more — are they worth the price, or worthy of the hype? As an individual with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, I thought, “What the fuck? If I can get my hands on one, I would be the ideal candidate to review it.”

After much research and correspondence, I was able to obtain a good quality blanket from a Canadian company called Gravid. While these blankets are crafted in a variety of ways, the “2.0” Gravid product is uniquely made with tiny glass beads, equal portions of which are sewn into quilt squares to ensure that the weight is distributed evenly.

According to Gravid’s website, the technology in the product is based on a 2009 study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. In it, author Temple Grandin shared findings that DTPS has a calming effect in children with autism and ADHD, and a similar relaxing effect in adults without a medical diagnosis.

DTPS is also supposed to encourage the production of serotonin,  a mood-elevating hormone that in turn helps to produce melatonin, a hormone responsible for the regulation of sleep. The premise is that they can help absolutely anyone sleep or get a better night’s rest so that you are feeling tip-top the next day.

The big question here, however, is much like a lot of the non-pharmacology related products geared towards people with anxiety, does this blanket actually deliver what it promises to do?

For me, yes. A recent heat wave made it difficult to test the product during the day, but just wrapping it around me in an air-conditioned room was heavenly. It felt velvety to the touch, and I was more comforted by this comforter than your average blanket.

Where I really felt a difference was at bedtime, when I swapped out my regular cover for the Gravid blanket: it just knocked me out. I even slept through my alarm. It feels like going through a gravity change where your body is suddenly extremely heavy but any tension or jittery feelings seem to be suppressed by an enormous sense of snuggle.

To be sure I wasn’t just exhausted from the summer heat, I tried it out on friends who came over and they all told me the blanket made them feel calmer, or in one case, “less pissed off.”

Two weeks later, I’m sleeping under the weighted blanket every night and it helps me get to sleep much faster.

There are however some very important factors to note if you are going to buy one of these suckers. First off, the weight of the blanket has to correspond with your body weight. The blankets come in three different weight varieties: a 10 pound blanket for those who weight closest to 100 pounds, 15 pounds for those around 150 and a 20-pound version for those closest to 200 or over. They’re all 48×78 inches, which is enough to cover a single bed, but come fall the company will be launching a 60×80 inch version.

The key with these blankets though is recognizing that the product is therapeutic and not intended for any other purpose. Sure, you can absolutely try and have sex under the blanket but all it is going to do is add some rather unnecessary weight to carry for whoever is on top and make them overheat way faster than necessary. These blankets are not fuck-friendly, but ideal for post-coitus time as they are very, very soothing no matter who you’ve just slept with.

With that said, if you’re going to get one of these, try and keep it to yourself, for your own use. Don’t put your dog or cat under it because you think they are having a bad day. Don’t wrap your children up in the blanket as the weight could be dangerous to them. What these blankets are really meant for is improving sleep. While improving sleep can produce better moods and also reduce anxiety in general, they are primarily meant for comfort. Weighted blankets won’t cure an anxiety disorder but they might be a smart and soothing accompaniment to therapy. If you have the budget for it, it can be a wonderful aid. ■