What's the hype behind weighted blankets?

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Dr. Alicia Arnold joined Tyler Mickelson to explain how weighted blankets work. Their Q&A can be found below.

Is there any science behind these blankets? Why are they becoming more popular?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “There’s not a ton of research done on weighed blankets. People have reported that weighted blankets help them sleep better and longer. Also, some people have reported that these blankets help reduce anxiety, which may result from the blanket providing a steady sensory input and impacting your nervous system. There was also an interesting study that looked at kids with ADHD, and using a weighted blanket reduced the length of time it took them to fall asleep and reduced awakenings during the night.”

Some of these results sound promising. What else should people know?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “It’s important to point out that not everyone feels a benefit from these blankets. One study of kids on the autism spectrum showed that even though the weighted blankets were favored by kids and parents in the study, it didn’t really have much effect on sleep. Since they are expensive, you could consider trying sleeping with several heavier regular blankets to see if it helps before purchasing.”

With how the blankets work... Who could benefit?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “They’ve been recommended for years by some therapists to help those with sensory processing disorder or autism, but they’ve become much more mainstream recently. People report that it may help insomnia or anxiety. These blankets are filled with tiny balls or pellets, which give them their weight, and some people say they feel it’s like a hug, similar to how some babies enjoy being swaddled.”

Is there any risk to trying them? Do weighted blankets pose any dangers?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “They are frequently intended to be approximately 10 percent of your body weight, sometimes plus an additional pound. It’s important that the blanket isn’t too heavy or restricts movement. Especially for kids and the elderly and those with other medical problems, like trouble breathing, one may want to be especially certain that it is not too heavy.”