- Article medically reviewed and fact-checked by D.r Mehrsa Jalalizadeh (M.D, Medical Researcher, Data Scientist)
Getting to sleep and staying asleep has been a lifelong problem for me.
So, I’m always open to new ways that may help to alleviate my insomnia – especially if they don’t involve medications.
And I’d recently heard that an acupressure mat (also called a ‘bed of nails’) was a cheap way to get to sleep faster and relieve stress.
But I didn’t really understand how they worked – do you actually fall asleep on the acupressure mat or is it only safe to use the mat for a short period of time?
According to my research:
You can sleep on most acupressure mats safely if you are a healthy adult with NO underlying medical conditions, are not pregnant, and don’t have skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. In rare cases, the spikes on an acupressure mat may puncture the skin (more likely if you have thin skin).
However, there’s little need to sleep on your acupressure mat unless you really like to do so – you can potentially get excellent benefits with just 15 – 40 minutes of use.
This may also save you from waking up with impressions from the acupressure spikes on your skin.
The rest of this article shows you how to use your acupressure mat optimally to get better sleep in 3 steps.
And If you’re totally new to the idea of acupressure mats, then be sure to check out my introductory guide in the second half of this article.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat to Improve Sleep
There are some studies that report that acupressure may help to combat insomnia and improve sleep quality .
However, you need to use your acupressure mat to target the acupoints in your neck, back, and shoulders to promote deep relaxation to potentially help with better sleep.
(There are other acupoints in the body that may be even more effective but they can be difficult to target with the mat alone and may need the assistance of a trained acupressure therapist to stimulate properly).
Follow the 3 steps below to use your acupressure mat to potentially improve the quality of your sleep:
1: Lie On the Acupressure Mat
Your neck, shoulders, and back are full of ‘acupoints’ that when stimulated by the acupressure mat can help to promote deep relaxation and may help you to fall asleep faster.
Therefore, it makes sense to target this large surface area by lying on the acupressure mat on your back.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Place the mat on your bed – the softer underlying surface will help to diffuse the feelings of the plastic spikes (which may otherwise be fairly uncomfortable to lie on if you’ve never used an acupressure mat before).
- Wear a top – it’s advised that you don’t lie on the mat with bare skin initially; wear a top until you’ve become conditioned to the feeling of the plastic spikes.
2: Lie Still for Up to 40 Minutes
The optimal time for lying on an acupressure mat is between 15 and 40 minutes for most people – although longer may be preferred by some.
It’s recommended that you lie on your acupressure mat for at least 10 minutes because it can take this long for the initial discomfort to pass.
Experiment and vary the length of your sessions to see if you can find a sweet spot.
If you enjoy meditation, you may like to incorporate this into your acupressure mat sessions.
3: Target Your Neck Acupoints (Optional)
You can try rolling your acupressure mat around a towel and placing it under your neck to stimulate the acupoints in your neck that may help to promote relaxation and better sleep.
A minimum of 10 minutes is suggested, but you should work within your comfort limits in this typically sensitive area.
The video review of the Shakti Mat below demonstrates how to use an acupressure mat to target the acupoints on your neck to help with sleep.
An Introduction to Acupressure Mats
If you’re new to the concept of acupressure mats, then you’ll likely find the introductory guide to acupressure and acupressure mats below helpful.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where pressure is applied to specific regions of the body (‘acupoints’) along channels called ‘meridians’ in order to allow ‘qi’ to flow through .
Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) is described in TCM as being a ‘vital force’ that can be thought of as life energy that when flowing through the body freely, is the basis of good health and vitality.
Conversely, blockages that may arise through physical or emotional trauma are believed to be the basis of disease – the blockages of which can apparently be released through acupressure.
Acupuncture is similar to acupressure in terms of the theory but differs in the application because thin needles are instead inserted into the skin (around 1/4 to 1 inch in depth) to provide a stronger stimulation of the chosen acupoints.
How Can Acupressure Help With Sleep?
Several studies have indicated that the stimulation of the An Mian (behind the ear), HT7 (on the underside of the wrist), SP6 (above the ankle on the inside of the leg), LV3 (top of the foot between the big toe), KD3 (above the heel), and the Yin Tang (between the eyebrows) may help to alleviate insomnia .
How Do Acupressure Mats Work?
Acupressure mats work by using circles of small plastic spikes to stimulate multiple acupoints and meridians in your body to activate your nervous system, stimulate blood flow, and release endorphins to promote a feeling of well-being and relaxation that may help to reduce stress and help you to sleep better.
Unlike acupuncture needles, acupressure mats are not designed to pierce the skin.
What Does Lying On an Acupressure Mat Feel Like?
Lying on an acupressure mat for the first time with bare skin will likely feel uncomfortable due to the protrusions yielded by the plastic spikes – but this discomfort should pass within 5-10 minutes as the blood flow to your skin increases and endorphins are released to reveal a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
What Are the Benefits of Acupressure Mats?
According to a mixture of studies and anecdotal reports, the potential benefits of acupressure mats may include:
- Falling asleep faster.
- Deeper sleep.
- Increased feeling of well-being.
- Relaxation of tense muscles.
- Reduction in muscular pains.
- Tension release.
- Reduction in anxiety.
What Are the Cons of Acupressure Mats?
The biggest drawback to using an acupressure mat is the initial discomfort associated with lying on the plastic spikes – but this issue does tend to diminish as you use the mat more often and your body adapts to the feeling.
Other acupressure mat considerations include:
- Marks on your skin – if you lie on the mat for an extended period, you may temporarily have marks on your skin.
- Lack of intensity range – it’s difficult to find lower intensity mats for beginners.
- Contraindications – acupressure mats may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, or pregnant women and young children/babies.
- Damaged skin – in rare cases, it’s possible that the spikes could break your skin (more likely if you have thin skin or a condition like eczema).
- Unsupported claims – there are many websites/videos making unsupported claims that acupressure mats can basically work miracles (so do NOT expect an acupressure mat to help you lose weight, get rid of cellulite, or cure medical conditions like high blood pressure).
Are Acupressure Mats Dangerous?
Acupressure mats are safe for most healthy adults to use but should NOT be used by babies, toddlers, or small children. In rare cases, the spikes of an acupressure mat may break the skin if you have thin skin, diabetes, poor circulation, or conditions like psoriasis or eczema .
Who Should Not Use an Acupressure Mat?
Acupressure mats are NOT designed to be used by babies, toddlers, young children, pregnant women (since certain acupressure points may apparently induce labor); anyone with high or low blood pressure, skin conditions, or as a substitute for the treatment of a medical condition without the approval of a qualified medical professional.
Are Acupressure Mats Scientifically Proven to Work?
Acupressure mats do have some vague scientific backing with some isolated studies but most of the health benefits reported are anecdotal or extrapolated from the supposed benefits of acupressure and acupuncture in general.
How Long Should You Lie On an Acupressure Mat?
The optimal length of time to lie on an acupressure mat is considered to be 15 – 40 minutes.
What Happens if You Sleep on an Acupressure Mat?
If you sleep on an acupressure mat you may wake up with numbness, impressions in your skin, or scratched/broken skin – or you may experience no side effects at all.
Conclusion: You Don’t Need to Sleep On Your Mat
Although most people can sleep safely on an acupressure mat all night, you’ll probably get the same benefits from a 15 – 40 minute session and save yourself from the visual marks that the spikes may leave on your skin after several hours of use.
Have you slept on an acupressure mat all night?
Did it help you get to sleep?
What’s your ideal acupressure mat routine for better sleep?
Let me know of your acupressure mat sleeping experiences in the comments section below.
Sources and References
 Science Direct – Effectiveness of Acupressure for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities With Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Accessed 1/9/20.
 Spine Universe – Acupressure: A Safe Alternative Therapy. Accessed 1/9/20.
 Medical News Today – Pressure Points to Help You Fall Asleep. Accessed 1/9/20.
 HealthLine – Acupressure Mats and Benefits. Accessed 1/9/20.
No part of this post or website is intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with a qualified professional if you require such guidance and/or before buying a sleep product for your specific health needs.
Image Attribution and Licencing
Main image: ‘Female Feet Standing on an Acupressure Mat’ by Sasha_Suzi (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.