Stuff We Love

Why Weighted Blankets Feel So Good

Psychologists believe pressure stimulation from weighted blankets can help the body rest and digest. Here’s why the Bearaby Napper is our favorite.

Whenever I’m in deep water, I let all the air out of my lungs and sink. The lower I get, the more the water weighs on me. Everything is muffled, quiet, and cool. It reminds me of being a teenager, laying on my belly on the ground with my best friend laying on my back, facing up, the weight of her body pressing me into the floor. 

The human body loves a little weight and pressure. Therapists who work with children and adults with autism, ADD, and other hyperactive disorders, have long known that applying gentle pressure to the body — often with a weighted blanket — can help calm agitated or anxious individuals. 

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Weighted Blanket At Home

Psychological research in the last few years has begun exploring why and how this works. It turns out that deep pressure stimulation can help the body quiet the sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight mode) and transition into the parasympathetic (rest and digest). 

Fortunately, you don’t need a pool (or a friend) to try deep pressure stimulation at home. Enter the Bearaby Napper: a 100% cotton blanket that weighs in between 15 and 25 pounds, depending on which version you buy. There are other options on the market, but what sold me on Bearaby was good looks: in my small space, I don’t have room for anything that can’t be on display. The Napper is cute enough to leave out on a couch or a bed, and aesthetically, it’s somewhere in between Lenny Kravitz’s infamous scarf and a dreamy Nia Thomas sweater. The timing was fortuitous: I got my own just a few months before the pandemic struck. 

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My brain has always operated at warp speed. I don’t mean that it operates well, or efficiently, just that it tears through thoughts and information at a dizzying rate — especially when I’m stressed out. It moves fastest when I’m worrying: racing through forgotten emails, messed-up tasks, missed opportunities, and irrational fears faster than it’s ever contemplated, say, what I ought to make for dinner. That might be why I like deep water and patient friends so much: they hold me in place, calm me down, remind me that wherever I am is where I need to be, that nothing needs to be done this instant

The Napper lent a little bit of that relax to a stressful year. I found I didn’t like sleeping underneath it all night, but when I couldn’t stem the flow of anxious thoughts as I was trying to pass out, 20 minutes with it slowed me down enough to drift off. During quiet mornings and evenings, whether I was watching a show on the couch, reading a book in bed, or trying to deep breathe my way through a meditation, it was a welcome companion during a challenging time.