HOW AN ACUPRESSURE MAT HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER
By Rebecca Paredes
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy
Can’t sleep? If counting sheep gives you a headache, try this sleep hack: lay on an acupressure mat. Similar to acupuncture, acupressure stimulates sensitive points along your back called meridians, which studies show can induce relaxation. That means you can finally drift off to dreamland and sleep more deeply. Here’s everything you need to know about this tool, plus effective tips to make the most of your time on the mat.
WHAT IS ACUPRESSURE?
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupressure is based on the stimulation of meridians — a network of energy pathways throughout the body. That stimulation increases the flow of “qi,” or bioenergy.
Using the same principles as acupuncture, pressure is applied to specific points on the body to stimulate energy, maintain healthy levels of stress and promote relaxation. There are pressure points all over your body, including your wrists and your heels. You can stimulate these points with your hands and deep, firm pressure, like a self-massage.
So, what about sleep? Studies show that acupressure helps patients sleep better and wake up less frequently during the night. In one randomized clinical trial, patients reported improved sleep quality as soon as they started receiving acupressure massage.
For better shut-eye, you’ll want to stimulate the pressure points associated with relaxation and stress relief. You have a ton of acupressure meridians all along your spine and shoulders. An acupressure mat hits these points all at once, which helps you drift off more easily. Keep reading to find out how it works.
HOW AN ACUPRESSURE MAT WORKS
Most acupressure mats are about the size of a small towel. The Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat is designed to stretch from your neck to your pelvis, and one side is studded with small plastic spikes. It looks like a pillowcase crossed with a porcupine, but don’t let those spikes fool you — they play an important role in activating your nervous system and stimulating pressure points for better sleep. Here’s how:
STIMULATES ACUPRESSURE MERIDIANS
The meridians along your spine and shoulders are associated with relaxation and restfulness. When you first lay down on an acupressure mat, your nervous system will be ultra-stimulated because, well, spikes. But once your body realizes you’re safe and sound, you’ll feel a flood of warmth along your back, followed by a release of muscle tension.
RELEASES FEEL-GOOD HORMONES
As your blood circulation increases, your body will release feel-good hormones called endorphins. Think of those endorphins as a form of natural mood support — great news if you’re the type of person who stays awake at night with tons of thoughts running through your mind.
It’s tough to fall asleep when you’re stressed out. As your body releases stress and tension held in your muscles, you’ll feel more zen, loose and ready to drift off. Deep breathing helps your body ease into the sensations, with the bonus benefit of supporting rest and relaxation. Less tension means you’ll have an easier time falling asleep — and you’ll sleep more deeply.
HOW TO USE YOUR ACUPRESSURE MAT FOR BETTER SLEEP
- Experiment with more or less time: Some people lay on their mat for just 15 minutes, while others extend their session to 40 minutes. There is no ideal time — experiment and pay attention when you start to feel sleepy.
- Meditate while on it: Meditation rewires your brain so you can feel happier and calmer. Compound those benefits with acupressure while you listen to this guided yoga nidra meditation on your Sleep Induction Mat.
- Stimulate your neck meridians: Want to release tension in your head and neck? Place the mat on a rolled-up towel. Lay down so the spikes press into the base of your skull. Lay for up to 15 minutes.
- Try different sensations: If the spikes are too intense, wear a T-shirt while you lay on the mat. If you don’t feel your body releasing tension, try positioning the mat closer to your neck or closer to your pelvis.