I am a light sleeper. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with sleep.
Serial entrepreneur Mike Chu can also relate. Trying weighted blankets was his solution, which prompted him to sell them in Malaysia under the brand, lazy blanket.
If his name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s also the founder behind outdoor walkie-talkie, a local online marketplace for affordable outdoor gear.
finally got a good night’s sleep
“As an entrepreneur, stress can sometimes cost me hours of sleep at night. I tried [drinking] chamomile tea, [using] Lavender scent, even counting real sheep, but that didn’t work,” he shared in our interview.
While searching the web for a solution, Mike stumbled across a weighted blanket from an American company. Even though the shipping cost him a bomb, he ordered one to try and was stunned for a full 8 hours.
“It’s been over 10 years since I last slept 8 hours (not even on vacation)!” Mike recalls in disbelief. Needless to say, his admiration for the concept doesn’t stop there.
That’s how the idea for Sloth Blanket came about. Launched in September 2021, the e-commerce platform sells weighted blankets to Malaysians, reducing shipping costs for blankets purchased from overseas brands.
In fact, orders within Peninsular Malaysia are delivered free of charge.
like getting a warm hug
Weighted blankets work through a concept called deep pressure therapy (DPT). A good example is how you feel when you are hugged. DPT is said to provide comfort and security, and is designed to relieve stress and relieve anxiety.
From my personal struggles with sleep, given these claims, I’ve also tried weighted blankets. But instead, I feel more “trapped” than being soothed by a blanket because it makes it harder for me to switch positions. Unlike me, some people like that feeling.
“Yes, you’re technically ‘trapped’, but at the same time it feels good,” Mike said.
“The science behind this is that the feeling of being ‘bound’ triggers the release of dopamine, which relaxes the body and creates a sense of well-being (in our blankets, comfort).”
For example, in the autism community, occupational therapists often use weighted blankets to help calm or comfort a restless or stressed person.
DPT is also used by therapy dogs. If its owner experiences a nervous attack, the dog is trained to put its paws on its owner to calm them down. A swaddled baby is another example of DPT.
“Duvets and quilts are great at providing nearly the same effect, just minus the weight,” adds Mike. “Some people can’t fall asleep without being covered with a blanket, and that’s basically part of DPT.”
While I can’t support the sentiment of using a weighted blanket, Mike’s last sentence is something I can really understand when using a duvet.
warm but not suffocating
Cotton is the most commonly used outer material for weighted blankets. However, they can be very hot, making them less suitable for Malaysian weather.
Therefore, the outer layer of the Sloth Blanket fabric is made of bamboo fibers. It’s known to be a cooler material that feels spread around the blanket so you won’t feel hot even when it’s fully covered.
Inside, washing machine-friendly perspex weighted glass beads are used. The beads are evenly distributed using a square stitched structure. This way, each square has the same number of beads (weight) for a uniform blanket structure.
Production and design of the Sloth Blanket is currently outsourced to China, but that doesn’t mean Mike hasn’t tried to find a local manufacturer for the product.
“There were a lot of mattress factories where we were exposed to the concept, even promises, and they rejected us,” he recalls, adding that he was rejected at least 30 times before going the import route.
Of course, he does plan to manufacture them locally one day, as he believes in empowering the local economy. “Once we have a track record of growth, we’ll re-engage with the same 30 factories to work with,” expects Mike.
high price for a blanket
When purchasing a Sloth Blanket, you can choose the different weights you want your unit to come in: 4.5kg, 5.4kg, 6.8kg and 9kg.
Customers are advised to choose a blanket that is 10% of their body weight. For example, if you weigh between 60kg and 70kg, the best weight for your blanket is 6.8kg.
“Anything that’s lighter, you probably won’t feel it, and anything that’s heavier can cause uncomfortable suffocation,” Mike said. It’s also important to note that while weighted blankets are generally safe for kids, Sloth Blanket doesn’t recommend using them on children under 3.
Priced between RM299 to RM499, depending on the weight, Sloth Blanket’s products can be purchased as a luxury item for the average middle-income Malaysian.
However, Mike explained that his brand’s weighted blankets cost less than silk quilts without weights, so those who believe they could benefit from the former will be happy with the cost.
Also, when searching online for other brands that sell weighted blankets, Sloth Blanket appears to have a general price range with a limited local selection. We say limited because you can actually count them with one hand.
This Sonno Blanket Mattress brands in Malaysia are priced at RM329 (excluding promotions), the ones I tried from friends are RM351, and local brands on Shopee are priced at RM298 to RM379. Of course, different price points should take into account the different materials, quality, durability and shipping costs of blankets.
Sloth Blanket offers a 30-night free return policy and a money-back guarantee for those whose sleep doesn’t improve. Of course, the returned product must be in an acceptable condition, free of stains or damage, and kept in its original packaging.
Help others get better sleep
So far, Sloth Blanket’s clients include men and women across Malaysia, especially in cities such as the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang. Mike even saw a customer in Sarawak buying blankets in bulk for their family.
Customer feedback is also good, with Mike saying that 95% of customers report better sleep quality after using Sloth Blanket.
Sloth Blanket produces an average of 600 blankets per week and sells about 200 blankets per month. Mike hopes to grow at least 10 times from now, noting a 2-year target for the brand.
For the brand’s short-term goals, the team is looking to partner with mattress brands and home developers who can include Sloth Blanket in their packaging.
“Furthermore, our goal is to give back to charities that work with children with autism because that’s a business commitment we’ve made from day one. The more blankets we sell, the more we give back,” Mike hope.
Since a weighted blanket is a sensory-based object, Sloth Blanket wanted to be featured on the roadshow so customers could experience the product firsthand.
Featured Image Credit: Lazy Blanket