It’s surely a sign of how sleep-deprived we’ve become as a society when, collectively, we dole out more than $3-million in the span of a few weeks in support of a weighted blanket that promises a night of solid shuteye.
The Gravity blanket, crowdfunded through a Kickstarter campaign that now has over $3 million pledged, retails for US$279 and comes in 15-, 20- and 25-lb. weights. (The idea is to choose one that’s roughly seven to 12 percent of your body weight.) The blankets are engineered to distribute their weight evenly and are meant to mimic the feeling of a hug. The inner filling is made of plastic poly pellets that add to the weight of the blanket, and are meant to spread throughout the blanket to target pressure points on the body.
Weighted blankets are nothing new. They operate on the principle of deep touch pressure (DTP), which some occupational therapists have been using for years to help calm people with sensory issues, anxiety and stress, especially children with autism spectrum disorder. The makers of Gravity stated the blanket can help treat insomnia (among other conditions) — a claim that was removed this week from the website, after a third party complained to Kickstarter that there was no science to back it up.
In fact, there are very few studies that prove the efficacy of weighted blankets when it comes to sleep. The most recent, from 2015, found that a weighted blanket helped insomniacs feel “cocooned.” Participants reported the pressure of the blanket had a calming effect and resulted in decreased agitation at night. However, it should be noted that the researchers received funding from a company that manufactures weighted blankets and vests for that study.
Another study, from 2008, found a 30-lb. weighted blanket was safe to use and had calming effects and helped lower anxiety. However, the researchers only studied the effects of the blanket in 32 adults, and only for five-minute sessions — so its effects cannot be generalized for an entire night’s sleep.
Still thinking about pledging money to Gravity? Maybe you should sleep on it.