You can’t scroll through Instagram without seeing someone curled up under a weighted blanket. If you’ve wondered if these bead- or pellet-filled wonders live up to the hype, you’re not alone — but there’s actually quite a bit of science behind why they work, especially for people with anxiety.
A weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like: a heavy blanket with evenly distributed weight throughout that essentially cocoons you while you’re using it. Its benefits are twofold. The blanket both hugs your body and grounds you, and each of these actions affects hormone levels, easing your anxiety.
Consider the hug first. Hugs naturally make people feel better because they release oxytocin, a hormone that helps bring your blood pressure down, slows your heart, and makes you feel relaxed. The simulated hug can also release serotonin, a hormone that decreases stress.
Weighted blankets also keep you grounded. According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, grounding the body — or weighing it down — regulates the secretion of cortisol during sleep. Cortisol is a stress hormone that flares when you’re anxious.
If you’re considering a weighted blanket, look for one that’s 10 percent of your bodyweight, and make sure to read the product descriptions carefully before choosing. If at any point your anxiety starts to disrupt your life, talk to a doctor or therapist.