VANCOUVER -- These days, it feels like the list of things keeping us awake at night is never ending. Maybe you’re considering a weighted blanket to help you sleep. Lots of people swear by them, but are they right for you?

Weighted blankets claim to calm you when you’re anxious, help with your insomnia, and even make you feel like you’re being hugged.

“Basically a weighted blanket is a quilted blanket, (and) each of the little pockets is filled with glass or plastic beads,” says Bernie Deitrick with Consumer Reports. “And the pockets keeps the weights from shifting around while you’re sleeping.”

Many find the weight comforting. Weighted blankets have been used for years for kids with autism, and sales have been climbing. But sleep experts say although there isn’t a lot of evidence-based research on whether they work, patients and users like them. 

“I do recommend weighted blankets for some of my patients that struggle with sleep, especially if they feel very restless,” says Dr. Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg. “And the feedback has been positive.”

Consumer Reports testers looked at the weight and warmth of different weighted blankets, and found that blankets sold with the same weight could vary in size. That changes the amount of pressure that you feel. 

And they used a device called the Tin Man to measure weighted blankets’ heat retention. 

“Our tests found that models with duvet covers were slightly warmer, but all the blankets add about the same amount of warmth that you’d get from a fluffy down comforter,” Deitrick says.

Manufacturers say you should pick a weighted blanket that’s around 10 per cent of your body weight, so if you weigh 150 pounds, choose a 15 pound blanket. 

And since you spend about a third of your life sleeping, there are some other ways to maximize your shut-eye if you need to. 

“Avoid caffeine at nighttime, avoid watching or reading anything that's agitating or disturbing to you, and avoid forcing yourself to go to bed when your body's not ready for bed yet,” recommends Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg. 

With files from Consumer Reports