We learned from this article by Penn Medicine that weighted blankets work by activating our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the mechanism our bodies use to relax and rest. It plays a balancing role against our sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our flight or fight response when exposed to stress.
The pressure applied by the weighted blanket has a similar calming effect as being touched, hugged, or stroked. This light pressure helps us slow down our heart rate and our breathing, which signals to the body that you are entering a resting state. That is why the pressure from a weighted blanket can help us feel less anxious and more relaxed, which is a necessary step for us to get to sleep.
We did not find any scientific studies on the effectiveness of weighted blankets in improving sleep. However, the concept of applied pressure on the skin is the same one behind the Apollo Neuro, which uses light vibrations to simulate touch and stimulate the parasympathetic system through the Vagus nerve, leading to a more relaxed sleep. Additionally, many members of the Nowgevity community report anecdotal evidence of sleeping better with a gravity blanket.
What You Can Do
Although we continue to search for more scientific evidence that weighted blankets improve sleep, the harm of testing one out is minimal. A quality weighted blanket can rage in price from $100 up to $300. The top 3 as rated by Wirecutter are the Baloo Cool Cotton Weighted Blanket, the more premium Bearaby Cotton Napper, and the budget-friendly Luna.