Can weighted blankets really help you sleep better?

/ CBS News

Weighted blankets promise to reduce stress

Weighted blankets have become popular in many homes by claiming to help you get a better night's sleep and reduce stress. But do they actually work?

Danielle Kerr says they do. She is a busy full-time college student who says she's constantly stressed out. So while she does her homework, she snuggles up under a weighted blanket.

"It just feels like you are being continually hugged. I do think it helps reduce stress and anxiety, big time," she told CBS News.

More and more Americans are embracing the use of weighted blankets, which first became popular to help children with sensory issues. The blankets, which can weigh up to 30 pounds, contain weighted beads or pellets to give them heft. They are marketed with claims that they create a calming, comforting effect that can lower stress and anxiety and improve sleep, even for people with insomnia.

However, experts say good scientific research in the area is lacking.

"We don't know for sure, from a robust scientific standpoint, but anecdotally and from smaller studies they do seem to help some patients," said sleep specialist Dr. Neomi Shah of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Shah says more research is needed to confirm if the blankets are effective, and cautions they may not be for everyone.

"Overall the safety profile seems to be OK, as long as we consider the proper use of the blanket," she said. "In children, being extra careful in terms of the size and the weight of the blanket and in adults, if they have any obvious lung diseases or neuromuscular chest wall disorders I would just be cautious."

Kelly Weber is another believer in weighted blankets. She says she has always had trouble staying asleep. She started using her weighted blanket several weeks ago.

"I wake up and I feel great. I hop out of bed, and I'm ready to start the day," Weber said.

Weighted blankets can cost hundreds of dollars and are not usually covered by insurance.

First published on February 18, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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