Optimize Sleep and Manage Stress: Q&A with the CEO of Gravity Blanket

Optimize Sleep and Manage Stress: Q&A with the CEO of Gravity Blanket

Q&A with Mike Grillo, Gravity CEO & Co-founder

Do you consider yourself a good sleeper? What helped you become a good sleeper?

Throughout my early to mid 20s I suffered from bouts of extreme insomnia linked to clinical depression and anxiety. Overcoming insomnia starts with realizing that it’s often a symptom of something else going on -- either mentally or physically. For me, a mix of therapy -- CBT has worked wonders -- and generally prioritizing my sleep space by investing in nice mattresses, bedding, etc. has made all the difference in establishing a positive relationship with sleep. 

Walk us through your sleep routine from dinner till you hit the pillow. What devices, supplements/teas, tech, textiles, etc do you use?

I think it’s important to understand that there’s the “ideal” routine, and then there’s the nature of life wherein obligations or stressors get in the way -- and that’s ok. In a perfect world, I try not to eat past 7 or 8pm because eating too late in the evening can impact my ability to fall asleep. From there, I take a hot shower and try to crash for at least an hour on the couch doing something 100% not work-related: that’s typically a podcast or docu-series on Netflix. I have two Gravity Blankets on my couch -- both samples that aren’t out -- that are meant more for lounging than sleeping, so I’ll use those. I also have this awesome sleep moisturizer from ThisWorks that I put on and it helps. I’ll often pair that with a dose of CBD. 

I think it’s important to understand that there’s the “ideal” routine, and then there’s the nature of life wherein obligations or stressors get in the way -- and that’s ok. -Mike Grillo

What books, podcasts, researchers do you follow for sleep?

I used to frequently use the ‘Calm’ app, which has both meditations and sleep stories to induce better sleep. I’ve fallen off a bit there, but plan on getting back. Beyond that, when I was first struggling with insomnia I stumbled on this blog called Sleep Like the Dead. It chronicled the author’s battle with insomnia and how he beat it. It’s since turned into a sleep product review site, but the original blog post that started me down my journey can be found here.

Gravity Blankets is a big best-selling brand. Can you tell us how big it is in terms of blankets sold? How many employees? How many products? Just how big is it?

We’ve sold over 170k Gravity Blankets to date since April 2017, and almost 1 million units of our Weighted Sleep Mask. With a team of only 14 people, we’re extremely proud of the hard work and dedication everyone puts in day in and day out to keep the brand moving forward as the leader in the weighted category. 

When we first launched, we had one product that came in three weight options (3 SKUs). Over the past years, we’ve grown to 16 products with over 80 SKUs, as we’ve continued to diversify our blanket offering in terms of colors, sizes and materials, but also expanded ancillary sleep and relaxation products like sheets, sleep masks, and pillows. 

Why do you think Gravity has become so popular? How is the Gravity Blanket different from the other weighted blankets in the market today?

For decades, the only real option for those who suffered from sleep issues or stress was to turn to pharmaceuticals. When Gravity launched, there was an already growing trend in non-pharmaceutical solutions (i.e. the rise of meditation/sleep apps like Calm), and our team knew that we had a product fit in well in this “sleep economy.” We built out products and our brand with the below 4 pieces in mind, which propelled us to the forefront of the category.

Science: We are the only weighted blanket company that invested in a brand-specific study. In early 2019, we partnered with Sleepscore Labs to test the efficacy of our blankets, and they were proven to improve sleep and reduce stress. In a study conducted with 28 people over 1,000 nights of sleep, At night, Gravity Blanket users were less stressed at bedtime, more relaxed while trying to fall asleep, and felt they fell asleep faster. 

  • 72% of Gravity Blankets users reported sleep improvement, citing enhanced feelings of relaxation and restfulness. 
  • 76% of users reported falling asleep faster, and 76% reported feeling more restful when waking up in the morning. 
  • 54.7% reported the Gravity Blanket helped to reduce stress. 
  • 78% of users who had tried other sleep products stated they preferred the Gravity Blanket. 

Quality: Gravity sits at the higher end of the weighted blanket category solely due to the investment we make in high quality materials, construction and Q/A process. 

  • Unlike most weighted blankets, Gravity Blankets come with a machine washable duvet cover, which enables customers to launder them as needed throughout the year. 
  • Weighted blankets sold without covers by most companies are not safe for machine washing, thus preventing customers from keeping their blankets fresh and clean. 
  • From the start, Gravity Blankets have been equipped with both ties and buttons in 12 locations to ensure the inner blanket is fastened securely to the duvet and weight stays evenly distributed. As of August 2020, we’ve started upgrading all blankets to a new zipper fastening system.
  • Gravity Blankets are filled with fine-grade glass beads for enhanced comfort (versus many brands that use plastic poly pellets). These beads are also better for the environment. 

Product Choice and Diversity: Gravity Blanket comes in a variety of colors, patterns and materials allowing for a truly customizable sleep experience. Whether it's our "cooling blanket" for the summer, or our "faux fur" duvet cover for a stylish winter statement, Gravity gives you options. 

In addition to our core product, the weighted blanket, Gravity is building out a suite of sleep and wellness products that supplement the blanket for an optimal sleep experience. These include our weighted sleep mask (in original and heating//cooling), Gravity PM CBD + Melatonin supplement and Gravity On The Go, our travel sized blanket that comes in a premium carry on bag. 

Purpose: From the beginning, Gravity has been a science-backed sleep and wellness brand that believes mental health and wellness should be just as important as physical health. The staff we hire, the products we make, and the marketing materials we put out are all executed to advance mental health and wellness for all. To that end, the revenue that Gravity Products generates fuels numerous charitable contributions, and to-date, we've given over $150,000 to mental health and wellness non-profit organizations. You can rest assured that purchasing a Gravity Product will benefit someone in need of mental health support in some capacity.

Can you tell us about the research and development process at Gravity? 

When we first were developing Gravity in 2016-2017, it was important for us to be based in science. We used studies on weighted blankets that existed already when developing our product. The science for us is a critical piece - that’s why we commissioned our own study in 2019.

As we develop new products, looking at research and studies on specific fabric, materials, and features is part of our process. For one example, understanding the benefits of bamboo and how it’s much more sustainable than other fabrics played a role in why we chose it for our sheets. It’s processes like this that go into developing every product to ensure we’re bringing a great product to our customers but also doing our part for the planet.

Many of your products are cooling. Why is this important?

There are many that are struggling with stress, anxiety, and insomnia and tend to be hot sleepers as well. Because of this, many of them are only able to enjoy a weighted blanket for only a short period of time since the blanket eventually absorbs their body temperature -- they don’t get the level of comfort they deserve. 

We received requests from our community asking for cooler blankets. That got the wheels turning that we should make a version that works better for hot sleepers, those living in warmer climates, or for the warmer times of the year. Our first-generation Cooling Blanket (launched in 2018) featured a duvet cover made of a polyester-Spandex blend. While it was an improvement in heat level, we always look to our customer feedback and to better improve our products. 

In 2019, we launched a second-generation Cooling Blanket made of 100% polyester that was an even better experience for users. We landed on this material by testing a multitude of options over a 6-week process. We want to accommodate all of our customers as much as possible and create a product they can use all year round. 

How does your sleep improve when you use a Gravity Blanket? How does Gravity play a role in helping to reduce stress?

The Gravity Blanket uses the power of "deep touch pressure stimulation" to simulate the feeling of being held. This increases serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for relaxation, and decreases cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress which leads to a deeper, healing sleep. Our precise gridded stitching targets all the pressure points on the body, which gives you the immediate feeling of relaxation when you put it on.  

How can Gravity help manage stress and anxiety? 

During times of stress and anxiety, it’s so important to make sure you’re in a comfortable environment. Relaxing with the Gravity Blanket can help to reduce stress and anxiety almost immediately, due to the deep pressure stimulation which helps to increase Serotonin levels. Additionally, making sure you have the right sleep products for your bed can help you feel truly rested the next morning like having our super soft Bamboo sheets to lie on, an extremely soft and fluffy pillow like our Gravity Pillow for head and neck support, and our Weighted Sleep Mask to soothe and ease tension on the temples surrounding your eyes. With all of this combined, it’s almost a guaranteed way to deep, restful and healing sleep that will make you feel so much better the next day.  

We’ve also recently launched our Gravity Cares Program on our IGTV. With this, our focus is to provide free tools, resources, and courses to help aid in the mental health recovery of our society.

Some of our sessions include:

  • Yoga
  • Sound Baths
  • Mindfulness & Breathing Techniques
  • Acupuncture
  • Guided Meditations
  • Stress & Anxiety Management

Our goal is to help our amazing community find value in this program, to bring even a small bit of joy back into their lives during these unprecedented times. We regularly share blogs discussing topics of mental health, stress, and anxiety and provide tips on maintaining Mental health and overall wellbeing. Our partner, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, also provides our site visitors mental health and wellness tips.  

So what’s next after the success of Gravity? What are your plans in the future? Are  you currently working on other research/products?

Gravity is very much a full time job so I don’t have much time for side projects, but I’ve been able to expand the brand beyond just the blanket into a variety of spaces, including a CBD line, sheets, comforters, mattresses, pillows, digital courses and even a beauty brand launching this fall. Most of my time is spent on sales and product development, both of which let me think creatively and beyond the core blanket line. 

No Comments Yet

Sign in or Register to Comment