Cozy culture seems to gleefully exist at the intersection of having your life totally together and being mere seconds from everything falling apart. It’s Instagrams of hygge porn featuring pristine white sheets and it is hunkering down in the same ratty sweats you’ve been binge-watching TV in since college. And the weighted blanket has nestled itself, warmly, heavily in the center of that intersection.
Like a miracle elixir that everyone is suddenly swearing by, the weighted blanket has slipped into seemingly every conversation I’ve had recently. Maybe it’s because we’re entering that gray, cold, post-holiday season where a fun thing to do on the weekend is sit in front of your sun lamp and listen to your Calm app. Maybe it’s because it’s cuffing season, the time to get boo’d up, and many weighted blankets promise to deliver the effects of a hug. Which is… not quite the objective of cuffing season, but close enough. Maybe we’re all just stressed out and anxious and over it and want a blanket to solve our problems.
Purchasing things that will solve all my problems is one of my spiritual gifts, so I was all about this. Also Linus from Peanuts is my life coach and sleeping is one of my top hobbies, so this all seemed like a perfect fit. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I smothered myself in the embrace of three weighted blankets: the Blanquil Chill, the rocabi Luxury Weighted Blanket, and the YnM Inner Weighted Layer. I should note that I used the blankets on separate nights except one evening when I threw all three on for extra healing magic. I would not recommend that last option. I am very cured but also it was very heavy and I required assistance to get out of bed. What would I recommend? Well, I’ll tell you, as soon the forklift comes to move this stack of blankets.
One of the things that I find so interesting about the language around weighted blankets is that it acknowledges what everyone is already saying/subtweeting about but which we as a culture don’t really have a way of addressing. Namely: everyone is anxious and freaking out and it’s a lot. So, diving into the world of weighted blankets meant looking my problems in the face and saying “You know what, I’m going to bed.”
The box that Blanquil comes in reads, “when life is hard, we’ve got you covered” which struck me on an emotional level. I guess that’s the point but still I was not prepared to be addressed in this manner by mail on this day. Do I want help with the hardness of life? Yes. Do I want to look my postal person in the face while I’m doing it? Perhaps. Who knows; maybe the postal worker has some suggestions for me.
Rocabi sends a little thank you card with their blanket that contains a “sleep potion” and a James Joyce poem. JAMES JOYCE is telling me to get my life together! This is all so much. I’m just going about my business, pretending everything is fine like I’m every character in The Hours, humming Philip Glass music as I buy flowers and struggle to turn a faucet on and this package is popping out of the blue telling me the truth about my inner state? There should be a law.
YnM just sends an informational brochure with theirs that lists the standard benefits: promotes sleep, reduces anxiety, improves cognitive function. However, the cleaning instructions for their blanket read “Dry clean the dirty, basked in the sun, whip lightly” which is quite a journey.
I wasn’t sure I was ready for that extreme level of healing, so I opted to try the Blanquil first. The inside of its box lid reads “Sleep better. Stress less. Be happy.” This blanket is promising me all the things that I thought only came from having abs. These commands are a tall order. Like, I don’t think I thought this assignment through. Honestly, these blankets are coming for my neck. I have to change! And improve! Through rest and relaxation?! I don’t know about all this, baby. Complaints are my personal brand.
I sat on a chair and threw the blanket over my head. “Let the great work begin!” I shouted.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” my husband yelled through the fabric.
“Shh, I’m transforming. Do I seem happier to you?”
“You’re covered in a sheet like a cadaver.”
Falling asleep was very easy with each of the blankets. Sometimes this is the case for me, other times I stay up til the wee small hours fighting the air. Who can say which will happen when? Peace of mind for me is like an office white elephant gift. Anyway, this was fine.
Initially, I was shocked by the heaviness of the Blanquil and the rocabi, which were 20 pounds. At 15 pounds, the YnM by comparison felt like a gentle breeze. It’s hard to say which is a more preferable experience. The heavier blankets announced themselves more; I was constantly aware of their presence with me. Sometimes the heaviness made moving around more cumbersome than normal. Other times, the heaviness was a comfort.
As I drifted off the sleep under the rocabi on the second trial, I tried to verbalize what the heaviness was akin to. It doesn’t feel like an actual hug, like arms and rib cages and heartbeats. But it also wasn’t heavy in the way that depression is heavy, physically, on your body. As I slipped into a dream, I thought of emotional troubles as garments. Grief is a coat, with voluminous sleeves and deep pockets that are full of old receipts and single gloves and cigarette boxes and tissues, anxiety is a one of those baggy sweaters that sheds everywhere, the kind that seems to manifest itself own ecosystem of static charges and wispy dust around you as you go about your day, and depression is Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding dress, huge and heavy in places, leaving a trail behind you, far-reaching and beguiling. The blankets were not heavy like that. This blanket is heavy like a metaphor.
I woke once in the middle of the night and was surprised to find I’d acclimated to the weight. On the body it doesn’t feel as heavy as when you lift it and spread it out. On the body it’s like a hand resting comfortably on you. Later, I’d try to sit on the sofa wrapped in it, but carrying it around I feel like Britney Spears saddled with that massive albino snake. Sexy but also having to engage my core. On the first night, I somehow managed to toss the Blanquil off of the bed, a feat of superhuman strength. So, I had to lean down and attempt to pull it back up, which, in terms of difficulty, is an action equivalent to that scene in Die Hard when Hans Gruber is dangling over the side of the Nagatomi Building, holding on to Holly Genaro, while John McLain attempts to throw him off. Another therapeutic experience.
With each blanket, my first thought upon waking was how thorough my sleep experience had been. I was still sleepy but not in the way that feels like I’ve lost out on rest but in the way that sleep leaves a residue on wakefulness, like pollen. I was so well-rested I got suspicious. I was like, “Wait a minute, this blanket that promises to help me sleep better, helped me sleep better? Call the police.”
I am looking to buy miracle products but also I am looking to watch a conspiracy YouTube video about why the product works. Like a layered blanket, I have many levels. I also sometimes get way too hot at night, or wake up in a cold sweat screaming “There was room on the door!” But each of these blankets is so cozy and cool, my temperature remained regulated and comfortable. While only one of the blankets promised cooling abilities, all three dispersed heat with surprising effectiveness. The only drawback, for me, was material. The Blanquil has a sweat-wicking removable cover that is a little more cumbersome than the fabrics covering the other two. It had a little bit of a plastic-y smell that wasn’t terribly noticeable but did distract me. The rocabi has a minky, fleece-like cover, which is cozy and soft. YnM sells covers for their blanket, but I found the thin but heavy inner layer to be just a comfortable and easy to tote around the house.
That said, when family came over at Christmas, they all fought to snuggle themselves under the Blanquil, talking about how the weight helped sore legs and knees and dropping hints about what I could belated get them as a present. I said I’ll sleep on it.
As great as the experience with each of the blankets was, however, I’m still not sure if it had an effect on my cognitive function as promised. Did any of these blankets cure my anxiety, flip the Senate, or figure out how to dispose of my Christmas tree without covering every inch of my apartment with needles? No. Did I expect that the blankets would do that? Yes. Is that expectation unreasonable? Would I be in this situation if I didn’t think so? All I know is this: a good night’s sleep is an often-illusive thing. Paired with therapy and eating well and exercise and a bunch of other things I write in my Bullet Journal at the beginning of every week and then promptly forget to do, it can really improve your outlook on life. The weighted blankets didn’t having me leaping out of my bed like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, with a new attitude and a bounce in my step, but they made the time I spent in bed more productive and more restful, which is probably the better option.