I'm down to try anything within reason for a restful night's sleep — which is how I discovered laying on a mat of plastic spikes actually works.
I'm referring to road-testing an acupressure mat, which is a piece of equipment inspired by acupressure, a massage technique that targets acupuncture points traditionally used in Chinese medicine. The practice is said to help with pain management and sleeping issues. The Spoonk Acupressure Mat ($40) comes in two parts: a body and head mat, both of which are covered in hypoallergenic plastic stimulation points (aka little rounded spikes) that increase circulation. Clinically tested by Spoonk, the brand's acupressure mats are said to help improve sleep quality by 94 percent, relieve muscle pain by 98 percent, and induce deep relaxation by 96 percent.
After chatting with friends about these benefits, I thought, why not. I'll give just about anything a go at least once!
Twenty to 40 minutes before I wanted to fall asleep (which is without fail the hardest battle for me), I put one mat on my pillow and one under my covers, and then I tucked myself into bed. Direct skin-to-mat contact is said to always offer the best results, but wearing a t-shirt is OK, too, if you need to build up a tolerance.
During the first few minutes of laying on the mat, it felt like I was resting on dull points. It wasn't stabbing, but each tip caused a pressure that was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. After my body adjusted, a relaxing wave was sent throughout my muscles. My aches, stiffness, pains, and anxieties melted away as I settled further into my bed.
The result: two decently consistent weeks of deep, dreamy sleep, which have brought me newfound energy during the day.
Acupressure mats aren't magic, but they aren't a gimmick either. Mindfulness is the key — it's up to you to control your thoughts, so the mat can do its thing. This means unplugging, turning off the lights, and maybe even spritzing some sleep spray on your pillow (which happens to be another successful sleep trick of mine).
Now, once I'm on the cusp of drifting off, I remove the mats and enjoy a smooth transition into REM sleep.
I'm truly a reformed sleeper who can confidently say my nights of lying awake to the loud presence of racing thoughts are behind me. I've even made space for my acupressure mat in my shoe-box-size New York City apartment, which solidifies that it's the real deal.
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