How an Acupressure Mat Helps You Sleep Better

By: Rebecca Paredes
June 8, 2020

How an Acupressure Mat Helps You Sleep Better

  • Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure to specific points on the body to promote relaxation and stimulate energy.
  • Take advantage of the pressure points on your back and lay on an acupressure mat for faster, better sleep.
  • Acupressure mats like the Sleep Induction Mat engage your nervous system, which triggers a flood of feel-good hormones and increases blood circulation.
  • Upgrade your time on an acupressure mat by meditating, stimulating the pressure points on your neck and experimenting with more or less time on it.

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?

Illustration of acupressure points

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.[1]

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.[2] [3] [4] 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.[5]

So, what about sleep? Studies show that acupressure helps patients sleep better and wake up less frequently during the night.[6] [7] In one randomized clinical trial, patients reported improved sleep quality as soon as they started receiving acupressure massage.[8] 

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

Closeup of acupressure mat, the Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat

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

Colorful lines representing stimulation of 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

Man laying on mat

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.

Relieves tension

Woman sleeping in bed

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

Woman laying on acupressure mat

  • 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.

Read next: How to Sleep Better: Science-Backed Sleep Hacks to Wake Up Ready to Go

Join over 1 million fans

Sign-up for the Bulletproof mailing list and receive the latest news and updates!

This is an updated version of an article originally published February 2019.