Heavy Sleeper: SensaCalm Weighted Blanket

I was watching an episode of Parenthood when I was introduced to the notion of a weighted blanket. Have you ever had an experience where you encountered a totally new concept that made such implicit sense to you that no explanation or definition was necessary? That was me and the weighted blanket.

I was the kid who liked his blankets tucked in tight. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the a low-rent version of a weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets were first devised for people with autism, anxiety and sensory processing disorders. Actual scientific studies proving their efficacy are as lacking as penguins in the Sahara, but anecdotal reports abound.

Aside from helping to calm the anxious, they are reported to address sleep disturbances (including insomnia), offer pain relief (like fibromyalgia) and lift mood. More surprising still is that they’ve been reported to function a bit like deep-tissue muscle massage, which would be why I’m reviewing one here.

Most blankets use either plastic or glass beads to give them weight and they are sewn in a grid, much the same as a down-filled comforter, to keep the beads from heading to one corner.

I did not have the luxury of having PR agencies send a half dozen different blankets, trying them each for a week and then writing this review. I had to do what most of us do in any situation: Read up and make a choice. Fortunately, most of the makers offer a money-back guarantee so I figured if I purchased something that didn’t suit me, I’d simply return it and try something else.

The prevailing thinking holds that you don’t buy a blanket any bigger than you need. Blankets that are too large will slide off the bed, and on one occasion I had such a restless night’s sleep I managed to shift the covers just far enough toward the edge of the bed and by the next morning the blanket was half off the bed. Though I sleep in a queen-size bed, I bought a blanket just big enough for me: 38 inches by 72 inches. The upshot is that someone can be in the bed with me and not be smothered with more blanket than they dig.

Another of the prevailing ideas is to select a blanket that is about 10 percent of the user’s weight. SensaCalm, the manufacturer I chose to purchase from suggests a somewhat more aggressive weight choice; at 10 percent I merit a 15-16 pound blanket, but SensaCalm recommends an 18-lb. version. One other detail I ran across from just a couple of sources was that the heavier the blanket is, the warmer it is, so a user is faced with either making their room colder at night or they can go with a slightly lighter blanket. For that reason I chose a 14-lb. blanket.

In a 68-degree room my 14-lb. SensaCalm blanket is heaven. In a 71-degree room (which frequently happens during the summer, despite leaving a window open at night), I end up sweaty and sleeping worse than I would without the blanket.

I’m going to offer a truism I’ve read nowhere: A weighted blanket does nothing for you if you throw it off because you’re sweaty.

SensaCalm also makes duvet covers for their blankets because, well, who wants to put a weighted blanket in their washer? I can imagine what the Maytag repairman would say.

“You what?!”

As someone who has battled depression, anxiety, sleep issues and legs that ache following a hard event, the SensaCalm blanket is easily the best sub-$300 investment I’ve made in my sleep. The 14-lb. Adult Large blanket goes for $214.95, while the duvet cover goes for $59.95.

Final thought: Why did I wait so long to do this?

Join the conversation
  1. pfnavin says

    I might have to try that, Padraig. I have many of the same issues you describe, and my sleep is, at best, inconsistent. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Padraig says

      It’s pretty awesome. I don’t think there’s any way it could make your situation worse.

  2. Hautacam says

    I always liked the added heft of extra blankets in winter. I have a kid who absolutely loves his actual weighted blanket for calming anxiety and just plain old relaxing. It’s not for everybody, but if it works for your body it can be a great tool indeed.

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