Can a Weighted Pillow Help You Sleep Better?
Weighted pillows have become quite popular lately, rivaling the ever-popular weighted blanket. But while a weighted blanket makes sense upon first thought, there are a few follow-up questions that pop up whenever I think about weighted pillows.
Namely, how can a pillow help you with anxiety if you're sleeping on top of it rather than lying underneath it as you would with a weighted blanket? Well, we're here to answer all of your questions about weighted pillows to see if they can be used to usher in peaceful, restful sleep.
What is a weighted pillow?
A weighted pillow is similar to a weighted blanket. They're products filled with beads or pellets and are thought to use deep pressure to calm the nervous system and release serotonin and dopamine throughout the body. Therefore, they may help relieve anxiety and usher in relaxation for an easier, deeper sleep.
Weighted pillows come in different shapes and sizes. You can get larger weighted pillows made that contour to the shape of your head—or you can get smaller weighted pillows to hold and cuddle with that are shaped like hearts and stars.
Most weighted pillows only weigh between one and five pounds, with three pounds being the most popular weight. Weighted blankets, on the other hand, are much larger, typically ranging in size from 10 to 20 pounds.
There are even weighted pillows that come in the form of stuffed animals. Weighted stuffed animals are perfect for cuddling with at night, holding while you're propped up on the couch, or using underneath your head as you sleep.
Benefits of weighted pillows
Like most new inventions, there's still more research that needs to be done on weighted pillows. However, the research that currently exists on weighted blankets shows that weighted sleep products can aid in stress relief.
Studies suggest adding pressure to the body can help release cortisol, aka the stress hormone. As we've reported previously, high levels of cortisol can lead to poor sleep.
According to Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, author of Become Your Child's Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor's 5-Step Guide, Ages 3-10, weighted pillows are similar to weighted blankets in their effects but "obviously cover less of the body, so some people might still prefer a weighted blanket."
You don't have to sleep with the pillow on top of your body for it to provide comfort. "You can cuddle it or sleep with it on a part of you—your arm or your stomach, for example," explains Schneeberg. "You can also, of course, sleep on top of it. If you do, you may find that the material used to weight the pillow can be adjusted to conform to your head and neck in a way that some people might find very comfortable."
Weighted pillow review
I've been sleeping with a small pillow to cuddle with for years. I actually have to pack it when I travel because I need to hold onto something to fall asleep.
Upgrading to a weighted pillow was definitely a game-changer for me.
While I wouldn't say the weighted aspect helped as I slept (I'm a side sleeper and can basically cuddle with anything, weighted or not, to get the desired effect), the weighted aspect did come in handy when I used the pillow in other ways, like on my lap while I was working on my desk and holding it on top of me while watching TV on the couch.
Before, I always had a sort of nervous energy that prompted me to reach for my cell phone and doom scroll, even though I was already watching the TV screen. Having the weighted pillow to keep my hands busy with the gentle pressure of three pounds allowed me to relax and be totally present in the moment.
If you're a back sleeper, I could see this being very relaxing to fall asleep with on your back or stomach.
How to choose a weighted pillow
Weighted pillows come in so many different shapes and sizes, and they're easy to find at retailers like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond. Here are the features to consider when shopping for a weighted pillow:
- Outer material: The outer material of the weighted pillow should be soft. And depending on your needs, you can choose a cooler or warmer fabric. Cooler fabrics include cotton, linen, and bamboo, while warmer fabrics include flannel and wool.
- Fill: Most weighted pillows are filled with plastic microbeads or sand. If you want a pillow that can be placed in the microwave to enjoy warming effects, look for a fill that's heat-safe (it'll say so in the product description).
- Weight: Most weighted pillows are in the one- to five-pound range. Choosing the weight of your pillow is entirely up to you. If you're shopping for a child, consider which weight they can easily carry and move around.
What does a weighted pillow do?
Weighted pillows "provide pressure that most people find calming and relaxing, similar to a hug or a massage," says Schneeberg. They can help release cortisol and usher in relaxation to promote deeper sleep.
What are weighted pillows filled with?
Weighted pillows can be filled with different materials, such as plastic microbeads, rubber-like plastic pellets, or even sand.
Do weighted pillows help with anxiety?
Yes. Weighted pillows definitely aren't a cure-all for anxiety, but they can help individuals find relief from stress as they're about to fall asleep.