[From Wikipedia]

Some of the earliest research into the form of deep-touch pressure that weighted blankets use took place in 1992, when an American scientist with autism, Temple Grandin, invented the Hug Machine and used it to study the calming effects of deep-touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder.[5] The first official study of weighted blankets as an avenue for deep-touch pressure occurred in 1999, when Tina Champagne, an occupational therapist, began researching them as a coping device for individuals in the broader special-needs community.

Keith Zivalich created the “Beanie Blanket,” an early iteration of a weighted blanket, around 2000. After receiving a Cease and Desist from the makers of Beanie Babies that same year, he settled on the name the “Bean Blanket.”[6]

Weighted blankets continued to increase in popularity in the special needs community, and several companies began creating product lines throughout the early- and mid-2000s.[7] Zivalich changed the name of his “Bean Blanket” to the “Magic Weighted Blanket” in 2010.[6] However, it wasn’t until 2017 that weighted blankets secured mainstream popularity, when the science news site Futurism launched a Kickstarter campaign for a product called the Gravity Blanket and raised almost $5 million. The company sold more than 128,000 units by putting a new spin on the product and marketing it to the public as a sleep aid and stress reducer.”[8][9][10]

In 2018, Time magazine named “blankets that ease anxiety” one of the best inventions of 2018 and cited the Gravity Blanket specifically. They noted that although Futurism didn’t invent the weighted blanket, the company perfected the art of marketing it to the masses.[11] Along these same lines, The Atlantic linked the Gravity Blanket’s success, and the subsequent rise in weighted blankets, to new way of describing and marketing their uses, describing the Gravity Blanket as a story about “the promise of life-changing comfort to the meditation-app-using, Instagram-shopping masses.”[7] The New Yorker linked the Gravity Blanket’s popularity to both good timing and marketing, arguing that the previous years saw a marked rise in feelings of stress and worry in the United States and that it’s “not coincidental that Gravity’s Kickstarter success arrived deep into a period when many Americans were beginning their e-mails with reflexive, panicked condolences about the news.”[12]

Retail stores around the world began selling variations of the blankets throughout 2018 and, by the end of the year, weighted blankets were on practically every gift guide on the internet.[8]

Since securing popularity, medical doctors have noted that, while some findings have been intriguing, more research is needed to verify the efficacy of the products as sleep aids and stress reducers.[4]