Review: The Wellness Benefits of Using a Weighted Pillow

Meditation is better with Quiet Mind's nine-pound cushion

A pile of weighted pillows from Quiet Mind against a soothing cosmic background. Here's our review of their Original Weighted Pillow.
You've heard of weighted blankets. But what about weighted pillows?
Jeremy Thomas/Unsplash; Quiet Mind

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Earlier this year, I wrote about my experience sampling Therabody’s SmartGoggles. The sleep mask-shaped headgear mixes slow-wave vibrations and temple massage to help you relax. Perfect before bed, if you’ve got a hangover or you’re trying to get a half hour of meditation in.

Recently, I’ve added a product to my SmartGoggle sessions that’s somehow made them even more effective (and I have the rested heart-rate states to prove it): a weighted pillow from Quiet Mind. Here’s why you should add a weighted pillow to your wellness routine, and why I love Quiet Mind’s design in particular.

What’s a Weighted Pillow?

As opposed to your standard bed or couch pillow, a weighted pillow is a cushion filled with plastic pellets or glass beads, designed to make it heavier. Most are somewhere between five and 15 pounds. Like weighted blankets — which are trumpeted for their soothing abilities — weighted pillows are meant to relieve stress. If you google “anxiety pillow,” your search engine will spit out tons of weighted pillows.

How is a heavy pillow supposed to calm people down? There’s actually some science at play here. It boils down to deep pressure stimulation (DPS), or the idea that when pressure is applied to your body, you’re able to shift from sympathetic nervous system signaling (that’s the system responsible for the “fight or flight” response) to the parasympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for “rest and digest” conditions).

In hormonal terms: you’re subbing out cortisol for serotonin. The process works because weighted products can simulate the feeling of a calming embrace. With a little sensory nudge, you can immediately feel more grounded, more secure.

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This isn’t going to have the same level of impact for everybody: Young people, people with autism, people with ADHD and people with insomnia can all expect a more powerful experience with a weighted pillow. (Here is one study extolling the efficacy of deep pressure therapy.) And it’s situational, too: If you’re tired at the end of a stressful day, or vulnerable while opening up to a friend or family member, the pillow may feel more effective.

But the general idea is that the heft of weighted products is not a mere gimmick. And it might be especially useful in weighted pillows, considering you’re not just overwhelmed by the weight — you can actually hug it back.

Why We Like Quiet Mind

The founder of Quiet Mind, Mikey Goldman, has ADHD. He invented the product and found that it helped him cope with “the anxiety and stress of everyday life.” I loved this line from the brand’s About section: “Our story in bringing this company to market with so much incredible support is proof that when an ADHD mind goes quiet, magic ensues.”

If you’re an adult in the market for a weighted pillow, I feel confident recommending Quiet Mind’s Original Weighted Pillow, in medium (nine pounds). If you’re getting one for a kid, go for the small (six pounds). Meanwhile, I’d avoid the large size, unless you’re large of stature, or looking for some serious heft. It’s massive.

The medium, though, is a perfect size: heavy yet huggable, soft yet sturdy. It has glass beads (instead of plastic), which I appreciate, and the exterior seems like it will hold up well over time. I typically use it for meditation sessions with my SmartGoggles, as mentioned earlier, but I’ve also laid my neck against it, to ease tension while stretching, and have used it as a lap “laptop desk” as the height happens to be perfect for it.

I’ll acknowledge the price is steep. You could get three brand-new sleep pillows from Brooklinen for the same amount. But if you think of it as more of a specialty wellness product, which you can add to your mental-health toolbox, I think it makes the price tag a little more palatable.

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