Today we’re breaking down a kind of heavy topic—the weighted blanket! It’s a pretty simple invention, really: a blanket with added heft meant to calm anxiety by doubling down on that cozy feeling you get in the wintertime when you’re snuggled under an extra-thick layer of throws. In other words, it’s the most comforting comforter. So how’d it become a thing, and does it actually work? Snuggle up to the concept below.
The Origin Story
The creation of the weighted blanket is tied to an increasing awareness of anxiety disorders, said to be the most common form of mental illness in America. Early versions of weighted security blankets were originally tested to help calm kids with autism in the late nineties—there was even a small but committed group of D.I.Y.-ers who would sew their own versions filled with everything from popcorn to dried beans (cons included unevenly distributed weight and possible sprouting!). In 1998, The Magic Weighted Blanket launched, becoming the first company dedicated to making and selling these personal blankets as therapeutic tools. Though the science behind how these heavy covers work is only now undergoing more in-depth study, the theory is that they might not only help with fidgeting but could also potentially limit your body’s production of stress-inducing cortisol, leading to a quieter mind and deeper sleep.
The Rise to Fame
Okay, so how did something intended to help comfort kids become 2018’s millennial must-have bedding innovation? The current craze began with a 2017 Kickstarter for the Gravity Blanket, an adult-sized iteration of the invention designed with a sleek, washable cover and available in 15-, 20-, and 25-pound versions. The campaign took off, eventually raising almost $5 million dollars and kicking off a wave of very curious nappers. The popularity seems tied to our growing awareness of mental-health issues and how to treat them and also to the self-care zeitgeist and, let’s be honest, the heightened stress of the modern news cycle.
4 Ways to Explore More
- Participating in this trend is pretty simple: Get a blanket and set your alarm. Just be sure to calculate the right weight for your body size (a good general rule is to start low and up the pressure if you need).
- You can also wink at the idea with a weighted eye mask, designed to block out light and simulate all the benefits of the blanket.
- If you’re looking to learn more about anxiety, there are a number of great new books out about it, like Andrea Petersen’s On Edge.
- On the lighter end of the spectrum, reach for the fun (and zen!) update on a beanie toy—these Jellycat ones are super soft and, with their cactus and pineapple motifs, plenty millennial-friendly.