It was a balmy summer day at the beach, and John, a 31-year-old associate editor in the U.K., was fooling around with six-time Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belichick. Tan, leathery and pushing 70, he was as mean-looking in person as he was on TV, but boy was he attentive — after he and John finished doing some “hand and blow job stuff” on the sand, they shared a brief snuggle before going off to “loot pirate ships for treasure” together. Even in his dream, John knew it was kind of weird, but he didn’t care. “I can’t question him,” he thought. “He’s the one with six rings.”
When John awoke, he was taken aback at how real it had seemed. The lovemaking felt way more realistic than he was used to, and he remembered every tender bit of it weeks later. At the same time, he wasn’t surprised — ever since he’d started using a Jaymag weighted blanket to help him cope with his persistent insomnia, he’d been having a lot of weird sex dreams.
Gravity blankets have been used to treat sensory disorders since the late 1990s, but they’ve become especially popular over the last few years thanks to the work of sleep scientists and influencers who hawk them as quick solutions to anxiety, ADHD, chronic pain and insomnia. The pandemic — which has created legions of lonely and touch-starved people in need of their hug-like embrace — has only increased their popularity.
They work by using weighted beads to create pressure on the body while you sleep, a form of therapy that calms the nervous system. They range in size and weight, but they’re usually between five and 30 pounds — light enough not to crush you, but heavy enough to sink you into some serious REM. According to Tara Youngblood, co-founder, chief scientist and CEO of the mattress and weighted blanket company ChiliSleep, this can result in extremely vivid dreams.
To wit, there are entire Reddit universes dedicated to the dreams people have under the influences of weighted blankets. In one thread on lucid dreaming, redditor kara123 writes they were able to start controlling their dreams as they were happening after getting a weighted blanket for Christmas. Meanwhile, Doc_Almond reports dreaming about being held in place under a friend’s Nissan sedan, a subconscious reflection of his blanket’s assertive grip.
Then there are people like John. Not everyone’s cooking up Belichick-level fantasies under the comforting crush of their heavy blankets of course, but it seems as though plenty of others are having hot AF sex dreams while pinned to the bed like cheap iHop pancakes under a boatload of butter and strawberry syrup. Camille, a 30-year-old lawyer from Milwaukee, tells me she recently had a weighted blanket sex dream about getting “Eiffel-Towered” by her old boss and brother-in-law in Paris. “I never saw my boss’ face,” she remembers. “I just knew he was the one behind me. When I looked out the window, I could see the actual Eiffel Tower.”
Victoria, a 28-year-old social worker from Chicago, says her weighted sleep mask also intensifies her sex dreams, but in a specifically kinky direction. “They usually deal with kinks I haven’t done in a while — mostly being choked and bondage,” she says.
Neither of them know why this is happening, but Olga, a 28-year-old weighted blanket owner from L.A., suspects it has something to do with how the blanket’s heaviness can make it feel like someone else is on top of you. “I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the number of vivid sex dreams now that we’ve had it for a few months,” she tells me. “I wonder if this is secretly happening to everyone and that’s why weighted blankets got so popular so fast.”
Laura Bates, a certified sleep science coach and the founder of Comfy Beddy, says there might be some truth to Olga’s theory. While she points out that there isn’t much official evidence that gravity blankets make your dreams horny, the comfort level and security they provide can lead to sexy dream content. “A weighted blanket can feel like a giant hug, as if your whole body is being cuddled,” she says. “Perhaps such a sensation might make sleepers feel like they’re being physically close to another person, which may trigger the body to feel slightly aroused when dreaming.”
Likewise, Youngblood says it may have something to do with the hormone oxytocin. Typically released during hugs, caresses and sex, oxytocin can create feelings of arousal, attachment, closeness and deep calm that enhance whatever erotic thoughts your brain concocts. What a coincidence, then, that it’s also stimulated by the warm embrace of a weighted blanket (it also peaks during REM).
At the same time, the pressure these blankets put on the body decreases the stress hormone cortisol and kicks production of dopamine and serotonin into high gear. This flood of “feel-good” hormones heightens arousal and increases the likelihood of orgasm, a neurochemical cocktail Youngblood says can cause you to have some rather “pleasant” dreams inclusive of both “love and sexual activity.”
Better yet, you’re also more likely to remember these dreams because of the prolonged REM state weighted blankets put you in. “The REM sleep stage is where most dreams you remember take place,” Youngblood explains.
Even so, she cautions that the content of our dreams can’t be boiled down to just hormones or pressure. “We each have a unique set of ingredients that make up our sleep recipe,” she continues, adding that things like temperature, position, sleep schedule and mattress comfort play too big a role to put all the erotic onus on weighted blankets. “Depending on how long you sleep with a weighted blanket, it could affect your sleep recipe, which ultimately can impact your dreams.”
In other words, we can’t definitively say that a weighted blanket gives you sex dreams, but we also can’t definitively say that it can’t. All we can do in the meantime is hope and pray that Bill Belichick is as gentle of a lover for everyone else as he was for John.