For the unaware: an acupressure mat is a very simple, yet effective piece of equipment used for improving the quality of sleep, as well as some other extraneous benefits to overall health.
Naturally, given the name, the mat is a mild derivative of acupuncture – using small ‘needles’ to stimulate particular pressure points up and down your back and alleviate stress in these specific areas. It might sound like a product marketed at masochists, but it’s not as bad as it seems…promise.
This form of simplistic acupressure has been known to achieve everything from a longer, deeper sleep, to maintaining stress levels – even lending a hand when it comes to endorphin and oxytocin release – and increasing the amount of energy you have throughout the day. The benefits of a decent night’s kip, eh?
The problem for the average consumer is a classic one, however – with a marketplace increasingly flooded with brilliant products all vying for the same virtual and literal shelf space, how do you know which one is best for you?
Luckily, I love nothing more than sleeping – so I’ve done the research for you!
Sorry, unfortunately it’s just a brand name – this mat will not withstand heavy gunfire. The lurking lawyers have asked me to specify that up front. Without further ado, let’s take a look at Bulletproof’s acupressure offering.
First off: Bulletproof’s sleep induction mat is probably the best acupressure mat for beginners since it has bigger spike discs than other mats, making it easier to distribute the “pain.” It’s also extremely portable, coming in at roughly the shape and dimension of a pillow case. This makes it an incredibly accessible piece of equipment, particularly for customers with limited storage space (or even space for lying out on the mat itself, should you choose to use it on the floor, for example).
The actual design of the mat consists of a network of little cells, each with its own array of hard plastic ‘needles’ – obviously not as sharp or pointed as real needles, but they do mimic the mechanics of acupuncture to a certain degree. Now, many users have reported that this borders on being too uncomfortable for any prolonged use; indeed, the manufacturers themselves suggest that you shouldn’t lie on it for any longer than twenty minutes at a time.
This degree of harshness may turn some more sensitive or reluctant customers away; however, if you can stomach the initial shock of the mat, the discomfort subsides and gives way to a more relaxed state of being.
One thing you should note about the Bulletproof mat is that unlike other acupressure mats, this one doesn’t have foam padding like many of the other mats, which can be both a pro and a con – the lack of foam can be less comfortable but also has the benefit of molding better onto whatever surface you lay on.
The biggest downside to this product is its price – you’re looking at one of the more expensive acupressure mats on the market without any added accessories. That being said, the Bulletproof acupressure mat is superb quality and has the advantage of being one of the longest, widest mats on the market so if you’re on the tall side, this is worth the extra few bucks.
Now, moving onto Nayoya’s mat and pillow set.
Straight off the bat, you can tell that this product is designed for a little more intense acupressure – thus, including an acupressure pillow for added benefits to the neck muscles (more on this later).
The general design of Nayoya’s mat conforms to the industry standard, though it’s smaller than the Bulletproof mat, with the series of small acupuncture cells laid out across the material. The combined number between pillow and mat of acupoints comes in at nearly 8,000 – meaning your body is getting a very thorough workout all over its sensitive pressure points.
Now, commending the number of acupoints is one thing, but we need to consider how successful they are in relieving stress and promoting sleep. This product has had an impressive reception amongst customers, with the majority of them praising the effectiveness of the mat and pillow. However, there’s no real reason to assume that this mat would function any better than other similar products, seeing as they use the same science and mechanics (if one didn’t work for you, it’s unlikely that another will, unfortunately).
That said, with this Nayoya set, you’re receiving equipment made from washable materials and the added bonus of the acupressure pillow, which is designed to aide with neck pain and headaches. Please note, however, that the pillow isn’t to be used as a substitute for a normal bed pillow whilst sleeping – the same time limit of roughly twenty-minute-long sessions applies here too.
As an extra bonus, this full set retails at a lower cost than some other mats reviewed – bear in mind that you’re getting the potential benefit of two pieces of equipment for this price.
That said, it’s worth considering the combination of low price, two products and washable cloth material…Something’s got to give – and for some customers it has. Reports of the Velcro fastenings working loose and the foam padding wearing thin rather quickly are common. But those downsides aside, this is a great 2-piece acupressure mat at a good price.
It might seem like there’s a pattern forming here… This Spoonk acupressure mat is yet another combo package – this time we’re looking at the main mat, a smaller travel mat (which can be used as a pillow) and a ‘groove ball’.
You’d be forgiven for instantly imagining a glittering disco ball when you hear the phrase ‘groove ball’, but the small device is essentially a sphere covered in the same acupoints as the actual Spoonk mat itself – small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, meaning you can massage different areas of your body specifically.
Chances are, you’ve actually already heard of this model, seeing as it was featured heavily in Oprah Magazine, Elle and Vogue amongst others over the last few years. Maybe it’s fantastic craftsmanship, maybe it’s the plant-based eco foam and 100% cotton fabrics used in its design or maybe it’s because it comes with a convenient travel bag…It’s always the little things in life.
Again, this mat retails at around the market average, but given that customers will be receiving the bag, second mat and massage ball included in this price-tag; it’s the most cost effective product reviewed so far.
One criticism that seems to be prevalent with this model and less so with others is that the acupoints will not have a particularly significant effect if you lie down with clothing on. For many users, wearing some form of clothing is a decent middle ground between the physical discomfort of the acupressure whilst still getting the full effect – perhaps this Spoonk model’s acupoints are slightly more malleable than other models, or don’t pack as much of a punch.
Regardless; if you’re hesitant about exposing your bare skin to the pressure points due to discomfort, this may not be the most ideal brand for you.
ZenGuru are yet another brand name that recognise the importance of peripherals when it comes to their products – this particular mat pack comes with the full size mat, a acupressure pillow, a handy bag for transporting and an additional cloth anatomical diagram of the human foot, highlighting specific pressure points for massage therapy.
The aesthetic proficiency doesn’t end there, however; the actual itself is also colour coded with some orange acupads amongst the uniform white, to highlight certain areas of the body and where to lie down for specific effects. This might seem like a small gesture, but it’s a very clever design choice that puts the customer in mind.
It still doesn’t end there! The ZenGuru mat actually promotes magnet therapy too. Magnet therapy is another popular method of circumventing pain, discomfort and some physical ailments that plague some people (particularly after surgeries or medical issues that can harm physical dexterity).
Phew – all of that, and all we’ve done is open the box.
A big potential red flag for the ZenGuru model, however, is that it prides itself on having particularly hard/sturdy acupoints over and above the usual. For some customers this is a massive bonus as it means the pad will likely last longer and packs a bit more of a punch, but for others who are a bit more sensitive to the discomfort that comes with acupressure mats, this could be a major turn off. Beginners beware.
Notable, however, is the low price on this product – the lowest yet, in fact – for the full set. For the right person, this is basically an acubargain.
We’re back with Spoonk for this last review, this time looking at their hemp model.
Generally speaking, not too much has changed between the other Spoonk mat and this one, beyond the materials used and the lack of groovy massage ball. The main benefit or advantage of this particular model will be for customers who like to keep themselves organically minded and conscious of where their purchases come from.
Spoonk claim that they are the only acupressure brand that’s free from any toxic manufacturing or materials and indeed, the hemp and eco foam used in this one seem to attest to that fact.
Of course, the other big bonus of using hemp as the base material is its robustness, which should give a nice combination of longevity in the actual mat without compromising on the comfort of the material… No such luck with the acupads themselves, though. You’ll still just have to grit your teeth in those initial few moments!
Again, the main drawback of the Spoonk offering is its price. This hemp mat retails at the same price as its prior mat (which came with more accessories) and is still on the higher end of the spectrum in general. Admittedly, this high mark-up might be worth it for the stronger materials used and the environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques. If you’re picky about both what you put in and on your body – this eco-friendly mat is the one for you.
Overall, if you know what you’re looking for in an acupressure mat, you won’t go wrong with any of the five listed – they’re all conscientious and popular products on the market. If you’re thinking of trying a pressure mat for the first time, however, I would perhaps recommend one of the more user-friendly and cheaper models such as ZenGuru or Nayoya.
As always when it comes to products of this nature, your mileage may vary. It’s impossible to gauge how successful one customer’s sleep pattern, anxiety or insomnia may be affected versus another – you can only truly find for yourself by giving it a try.
Hopefully this review article has been some help… Sweet dreams!