Like many people, I have anxiety. I am always looking for new ways to cope with it. After trying all the latest fads including countless essential oil diffusers, lavender-scented everything, white noise machines, and the weirdest meditation apps around, I was captivated by the illustrious weighted blanket.
It has been said that weighted blankets help with anxiety, insomnia, sensory disorders, autism, and more. According to the PTSD Journal, the added weight releases serotonin into the body, which naturally converts into melatonin—the hormone that helps you sleep—and the two work wonders on your body and provide comfort during a time of stress, depression or anxiety
“Weighted blankets are an incredible tool to utilize with all populations,” says Vanessa Crespo, head of the Occupational Therapy Department at Carney Hospital. She says the added weight gives feelings of safety, relief, and comfort: think of a weighted blanket compared to swaddling a baby or thunder shirts for nervous dogs.
Whether or not they actually work is a topic of debate, but one thing is for sure: a weighted blanket piqued my interest. Their high price point has kept me from investing in one of my own: most popular brands retail north of $100 on Amazon, and the less expensive options seemed of markedly poorer quality. Is it possible to purchase a quality weighted blanket without breaking the bank? Thanks to Target, it’s now at least an option.
In October, Target released their own weighted blanket for only $69.99. The angels start to sing as a heavenly light shines upon the aisle in the back of your local Target. Can it be true? How is this possible? Where’s the catch? I had to find out, so we pitted a higher-priced, luxury-brand weighted blanket against Target’s Tranquility blanket—and what we found was pretty surprising.
Putting the weighted blankets to the test
Most of the sources online about weighted blankets are published by specific manufacturers, so I wasn’t sure what I could believe and what was just good marketing. To test the claims of these blankets, I spent weeks snuggling up with each blanket in various different positions, settings, couches, etc. to get a full-fledged analysis on both. It was such a struggle.
The luxury brand: I started my testing with a 25-pound blanket by Rocabi ($240). I found myself literally dragging it across the floor from room to room because I could not easily carry it. This made it difficult to comfortably cover myself with it, since it was a workout in itself to get cozy. Many times, I’d lie down on the couch or in bed and make my partner drop the blanket on me from above.
Sleeping with 25-pounds on top of you is a struggle. It was nearly impossible to roll over, and many nights I found myself actually waking up from feeling so restricted and shoving the blanket onto the floor. Many studies show weighted blankets help with insomnia, but I found myself actually developing sleep issues from it!
However, what really tanked this experience was the weight distribution. The weighted beads in the Rocabi blanket clumped to one area. The blanket has two layers—a machine-washable plush exterior and the weighted interior layer—which is nice in theory, but they are held together by weak clasps along the edges. These clasps are difficult to fasten and immediately come undone the second you move the blanket, which lands all 25 pounds sitting right on your knee caps, while your upper body feels none of the weight. It completely nullifies the experience.
The budget brand: After two weeks in Rocabi-land, I switched over to Target’s Tranquility weighted blanket ($70), a twin-sized blanket rather than Rocabi’s roomy queen. Target’s Tranquility blanket was only 12-pounds which felt like next to nothing compared to Rocabi.
I found myself enjoying Target’s blanket with a lot more ease. I was able to carry it from room to room without breaking a sweat, and I could use it in a variety of positions I couldn’t even imagine doing with the 25-pound one. I’d comfortably sling it over my shoulders while playing on my laptop, or drape it over my legs, mimicking the feeling of my little Yorkie and Chihuahua back home—the light pressure felt like a tiny hug.
As for sleeping with the Target blanket, it was life-changing. I have never had trouble sleeping, but using this blanket made me sleep like the dead and wake up super refreshed. The lighter weight allowed me to roll over and adjust myself in my sleep as I pleased, without any struggle. This felt like a comforting hug that made it really hard to want to get out of bed in the morning. Best of all, the glass beads stayed proportionally spread out throughout the blanket.
It did have its flaws, though. I wish it were bigger—but that’s the catch in its low, low price. Unfortunately, there is no larger-sized blanket available by the same brand, and the blanket is also not machine washable and is spot-clean only, so after a while, it’d get pretty gross. Some reviewers suggest putting a twin duvet on it as a DIY outer layer, though the weighted insert may cause an issue there.
The surprising results
Lo-and-behold, Target’s $69.99 weighted blanket was immensely better than Rocabi’s pricy option. The weight distribution of the glass beads and value of the inexpensive brand is far superior, although my ideal weighted blanket would be a good combination of the two: the Queen size, machine-washability, and plush exterior from Rocabi, mixed with the weight distribution, portability, and price from Target.
And for my own personal preference, I’d split the difference in the weight and get a solid 18-pound blanket. But if I had to pick a winner between these two, it’d absolutely be Target’s 12-pound Tranquility weighted blanket, hands down.
Now keep in mind, although I absolutely love Target’s weighted blanket it definitely didn’t cure my anxiety. If anything, it sort of encouraged my depression by making it more enticing to stay in bed all day long. So while I highly recommend getting yourself a weighted blanket to assuage your sleeping troubles and anxieties, don’t go into it with the idea that it will magically cure you. It may help you or it may not do a thing—but with Target’s great price, it’s worth a try!
How to choose the right weighted blanket for you
Weight: Make sure that you get the right size and weight: it is essential to having a successful experience with your weighted blanket. It’s recommended to use one that’s 10% of your body weight for the best, most calming results.
Size: Weighted blankets come in variety of different lengths and widths. Make sure you’re choosing a blanket that fits your needs and lifestyle (I, for example, bought Target’s weighted blanket without realizing it was only twin-sized while I would’ve much rather had a queen to wrap up in). These blankets come in varieties as well, such as lap pads or wraps that can be easily used during travel, at school, or on the go.
Usability: We suggest a two-layered blanket for the same reason you might keep a duvet on your comforter: it’s easier to clean. Some blankets come with a machine-washable shell and and a weighted sleeve (like Rocabi), while others (like Target’s) come as one-package deal. There are pros and cons to each—so make sure to think about this before you buy.
Material: Purely a matter of personal preference, but after testing both, I found that I much preferred the minky texture of Rocabi's blanket. The most common fabrics are cotton, minky (the kind baby blankets are made of), fleece, linen-rayon blend, or flannel.
Filler type: The most common fillers are glass beads and plastic poly pellets, there are other fillers you may come across, ranging from steel shot beads, sand, and riverstone pebbles. Some people are against poly pellets, since the “poly” stands for Polypropylene, a chemical compound and artificial resin. But don’t be alarmed—most fillers are non hazardous, chemical free, BPA free, hypoallergenic and safe to use. Just make sure the check that the label says FDA-approved before buying!