I Tried a Weighted Blanket. Here's What I Thought
The weighted blanket arrived on my doorstep at the perfect moment. On March 11, just after 9 p.m., President Donald Trump appeared on TV to address the nation from the Oval Office to announce a 30-day travel ban to the U.S. from Europe. My boyfriend, a European living with me in Brooklyn, had just told his family to cancel their first visit to New York City for fear they might get stuck here or, worse, catch this novel virus that the World Health Organization had just declared a “pandemic."
He was right. Within weeks, New York had become the epicenter of COVID-19 in America, and I wanted nothing more than to hide under my new weighted blanket 'til it was over.
That fateful night, before all the #stayhome mandates went into effect or the words “quarantine" and “social distancing" became part of our vernacular, we fell asleep worried but grateful to hold each other as we dozed off under the velvety Saatva Organic Weighted Blanket. The organic cotton cover, weighted with tiny, all-natural glass beads, draped us like a coat of armor protecting us from what felt like impending doom.
We both barely moved all night—maybe because the 25-pound, queen-size blanket encouraged us to stay put—and slept the deepest we had in a long time. Though nothing is as soothing as my partner's warm embrace, the blanket held me tight too, offering a different kind of gentle, even pressure and sense of security. So much so that I easily slept nine hours that night.
Worrying about an uncertain future, as we all know by now, is exhausting, which is why we need more rest than before COVID-19 upended our lives. As someone who lives with chronic anxiety, I've long had a nifty box of “tools" to help get me through the most nerve-wracking times. From weekly therapy and daily meditation to regular exercise and eating right, plus a healthy 10:30 p.m. bedtime ritual, I've made it my job to find ways to keep calm and carry on. A weighted blanket was just one more item to add to my mental health toolbox.
Soothe Stress with Saatva's Weighted Blanket
The science behind weighted blankets
I first found out about these heavy covers from life coach Brooke Feldman. “The secret behind weighted blankets is that the pressure against the body activates the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a calming effect that's just dreamy," says Feldman, certified transformational coach and founder at Lovely Day + Co., a boutique agency specializing in holistic personal and business coaching. "I recommend it to my clients for self-care, anxiety relief, and deep sleep. It feels like a big hug."
Weighted blankets have been around for a long time as a calming sensory tool for kids with autism or behavioral problems, according to Harvard Health Publishing. As these heavy comforters continue to gain popularity among stressed-out adults, more and more studies are coming out to support anecdotal claims of the positive physiological and emotional effects.
As much as I loved sleeping wrapped in the Saavta weighted blanket, my partner did not. He woke up the next day with a headache and felt certain where to place the blame (ironically, it was not on the stress of the terrible news of the day before). Personally, I think it's because he slept so deeply for more hours than usual that he woke up “sleep drunk." A man of science, he quickly dismissed my observations.
We agreed that the blanket would best serve me alone on the couch for my daily meditations and weekend naps, so I exchanged the queen-size for a single blanket at 15 pounds—a more manageable weight to toss around and fold. For the remainder of our self-quarantine, this weighted blanket has provided so much comfort.
From my daily meditations, where I ease into my mantra-chanting mental flow for 10 to 20 minutes, to cuddling up with a book, Masterclass, Netflix, FaceTime, or cup of tea, I've come to really look forward to swaddling myself in this heavy throw. The minute I pull it over my legs and tuck it under, my inner switch flips to chill-out mode, which—not gonna lie—often segues to a welcome snooze.
Even my cat has found comfort in the taupe-colored blanket, claiming it for his own when we're locked away in our bedroom. One night I didn't properly fold it to my cat's liking, so he couldn't sleep on it—and if he can't sleep, neither can we. He cried and scratched at our bedroom door all evening.
I've come to really look forward to swaddling myself in this heavy throw. The minute I pull it over my legs and tuck it under, my inner switch flips to chill-out mode, which—not gonna lie—often segues to a welcome snooze.
My boyfriend, ever the scientist, hypothesized that the kitty was upset that his bed wasn't “made." The next night, we tested it out, leaving the blanket a piled mess on the sofa. Kitty cried insistently for 10 minutes, until I came out to carefully fold it for him into a rectangular shape, just as he likes it. And voila! The happy kitty and the couple slept well in their cozy, quiet apartment as they continued to ride out this wild time from the safety and comfort of their blankets.
Have trouble calming your mind before bed? Here are our best stress-relieving tips to help you sleep.