An Unconventional Method I Used To Sleep Better

A lot of choices I made as a young man led to long-term consequences I still have to deal with today. And I don’t just mean ignorant decisions made because of my blue pill upbringing.

Some of the punishment I put my body through when I felt invincible eventually brought me to a state in which I feel far more fragile than agile. Between football and the Airborne, my back and knees are a hot mess. Slamming your body full-speed into other strong, healthy young men, jumping out of airplanes, and pounding the ground carrying 80 pounds of whupass is not exactly work that the human body was designed to perform for extended periods.

Some physical ailments I suffer have an origin I can’t identify—like acid reflux.

I’ve gone to doctors, but as many of you probably already know: today’s doctors have no interest in healing you; they only push pills. Modern medicine is not about fixing root problems—it’s about getting you dependent on drugs that numb some of the symptoms.

At least that’s my experience.


Let me add another personal detail that’s relevant: until about 12 years ago I slept like the typical infantryman…which is to say: HEAVY. I could sleep through almost anything, anytime, anywhere. But I didn’t appreciate what a blessing that was. Then the V.A. prescribed medicine for a symptom of a problem I was suffering, and it wrecked my sleep.

I haven’t been able to sleep right since then. Add to that my increasing difficulty getting comfortable in bed, and the acid reflux that strikes without warning at night, and the result is not nearly enough rest.

Sleep is when your body heals. When you don’t sleep, the long and short-term results are problematic. You don’t just need healing after an injury per se—if you lift, for instance, that’s when the muscle groups you taxed at the gym recover and grow. Guys who get really big don’t all follow the same diet or workout regimen or all take steroids; but one thing they all seem to have in common is they sleep a lot.

I have plenty of pain pills on hand, and some of them knock me out. Unfortunately, they also make me groggy after awakening when I need to be alert.

The solution I found

Since my back is the main culprit keeping me from sleeping, I’ve been stretching a lot, using a Shiatsu massager, keeping my knees elevated at night, and I stiffened up my mattress as best I could. None of this did the trick.

For Christmas I was given an acupuncture mat for back and neck.

There’s no universal consensus on what exactly acupuncture does. The explanation that makes most sense to me is: by stimulating multiple nerve clusters at once, it works some kind of hoodoo on your central nervous system, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones into your body. This results in pain relief, a revitalized immune system and other microprocesses restored throughout your body.

Though not everyone agrees why it works, most agree that it does work.


The mat I got for Christmas does not use the long metal needles you may have seen in movies, but fairly short plastic spikes—thousands of them. Willing to try nearly anything, I rolled it out on my bed and positioned myself so that it was in contact from my tailbone to my neck.

Laying on the mat is not comfortable. It felt like my skin was burning. But a lesson I learned years ago is “no pain, no gain.” So I elevated my knees to flatten my mangled lumbar against the mat and resolved that I would endure the discomfort for at least 10 minutes.

Before 10 minutes elapsed, I fell unconscious.

I came half-awake at some point later that night, put the mat away and laid back down, falling asleep as readily as I had as a young man.

I mentioned that I no longer sleep like an infantry veteran—more like an assassin. Any little anomaly wakes me up. And whether it is my woman, the dogs, an itch, or my bladder, I usually find it difficult-to-impossible to fall back asleep.

For the last two nights, however, only my bladder was able to wake me. After stumbling like a drunkard to the toilet and back, I conked out without trouble just like the old days. And no acid reflux either, so far.

I still need to invest in a better mattress. Even then, I might never be able to sleep on my stomach again. But this experience has brought so much relief that I’m now a believer in acupuncture.

If nothing else is working out for you, the acupuncture mats are affordable and well worth the temporary discomfort.

Read More: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Doing Intermittent Fasting

80 thoughts on “An Unconventional Method I Used To Sleep Better”

  1. Great article! Acupuncture and shiatsu has a lots of health benefits. Pharmacies and pills are not the answer to everything considering the negative side effects these drugs have. Screw NyQuil! Chamomile Tea also works. I drink this to help me sleep and it works.

  2. Great to see an article on how to sleep better.
    Unfortunately, a very large percentage of the world’s population are taking sleeping pills and anti depressants. Why- because of all the bullshit brought into our lives by women, politics, work and other economic related matters.
    Honestly, at this point, sometimes I wish I could just cut off all contact with people and live on an island. Ridiculous as it sounds, it would definately get me some real sleep without having to resort to other techniques.
    Living in this world= stress to the max.

        1. ‘Really North’ here. Not sure I would recommend this place for that reason; living off the grid here takes…dedication.

        2. Currently calling Prince George BC home. Might be about the middle of the province, but there is a whole lot of not much north of here.

      1. Which would be great for a while until someone discovers the existence of the Others on another part of the island. 😛

      2. No thanks. After a few weeks, we’d be slaughtering each other over that stupid conch shell 🙂

    1. It reminds me quote from short documentary about “Wolfman”: “I grew up i
      a village and got to know human life in a rural area. But seeing how
      human life works these days, that’s no longer a world I want to be a
      part of.”
      Documentary here if interested:

    2. it’s super expensive to live on islands. you probably couldn’t afford it. if i could, i’d probably already be there.

  3. Good Article, sometimes we forget how important quality sleep is for our health and overall longevity. I’ve used the “bed of nails’ mat for the last year or so, it does help you fall sleep really quickly. The guy over at Bulletproof executive has even started marketing his own mat promoting its sleep benefits.

  4. Howdy,
    I had bad reflux for a while. Would wake up gagging and unable to breathe. I started taking HCL supplements about an hour before bed, which helped.
    What really fixed it was changing my diet. I cut soda pop out completely and reduced my sugar and grain consumption significantly. That effectively solved the problem for me. A bonus was that I lost several pounds of blubber too.
    Now, if I feel bloated because I’ve been eating more junk food than normal (game night usually), I put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of water & drink it. Tastes bad but makes me burp, which gets the gasses out of my stomach. Settles everything down.
    Thanks for article. I’ve not been sleeping as well as I used to.
    All the way.

    1. Same here. Cut all sugars out of my diet except for the most complex kind and got some great results reducing reflux.
      You might want to also try Diatomatious Earth supplement.
      Another thing that works like a miracle drug for me is Balsamic vinegar. Of course it’s better to have a good salad than drink it outright but a good dressing made with the stuff and drink up that dressing works well for me.
      Another big cause of reflux and heartburn for me: coffee. But not just for drinking it. It was the way the coffee was made. Using boiling water or running steam through it as is the way of a coffee maker or espresso maker extracts a lot of acid from the grounds. One cup and I would feel like I got shot in the heart but this is really the top of the stomach (the heart is higher up from where we feel heartburn). So I discovered that if I do not use boiling water and instead use just hot water between 170-190 degrees (like a French Coffee Press for example) I can drunk coffee, have enough motivation not to die of boredom at work, and not have heartburn.
      Finally: posture. Part of my problem was bad slouching posture pushing my stomach up and making it misshapen. Maintain good posture and do plank exercises to strengthen the core muscles and that too was a great help.

      1. “Large amounts of alcohol work for me” “Cut all sugars out of my diet except for the most complex kind.”

    2. Interesting thinking on the baking soda. Baking soda is a base, so it directly neutralizes acids

  5. Try Melatonin – all orthomolecular MDs are recommending it. Recently I even talked with one MD who has a sleep disorder clinic. He told me that all conventional sleeping pills have massive side-effects. He usually uses melatonin at doses of 3-10mg – best a time-released sort.
    Other methods are first a general multi and some l-tryptophan during the day – tryptophan has sleep inducing effects on some people too, but not all. Melatonin itself works on practically everyone, though it lasts only 3 hours, that’s why the time-release formulas are a better choice.

    1. Ive taken that and it usually worked. The problem is that it can have a few mild side effects and its not a good idea to get dependent on it, even if its much better than sleeping pills and crap.

      1. Most supplement companies are pharma owned and should best be avoided – rather go for independent family owned companies like Swanson, Now Foods, Awesomesupplements, Youngevity etc. The time-release formulas are worse, since their ingredients are somewhat more difficult to stomach. But the normal melatonin supplements can be taken for decades with no side-effects.

      1. Then you likely don’t need it. Taking basic orthomolecular supplements, cutting down coffee (up to 10% of each population should ditch caffeine – too sensitive), purifying diet is likely sufficient. Basic supplements: multi, magnesium&calcium,Vit D3, amino-acids, Vitamin C 2000-5000mg, Omega 3, B-12 once a week – some require L-tryptophan or HTP daily.

    1. Alcohol makes me sleep but I wake up needing to piss bad an the can’t go back to sleep so it’s not a real solution for me.

    2. I’ve never been able to sleep with alcohol in my system. I can be dead tired but my body says no until the poison is out.

    3. As I’ve gotten older and continued lifting, I’ve noticed the hyper-charge alcohol gives my metabolism at 7 calories per gram, just ends up energizing me, unless I’m inebriated drunk. Even then I get shitty sleep after drinking. I think half of a hangover is just the lowered sleep quality, thus the body doesn’t repair itself except for the liver and pancreas trying to get rid of the shit you pickled it with. Everything else “stays awake” or in a lesser conscious state of lacked repair.

      1. You drink a bloody mary before your workout?
        I knew a guy who would toke a bit before his workout, swore it made him more focused. He was in great shape lol

        1. Lol. No I mean just during the course of my life since I lift 4-5 days a week I’m always in some form of muscle recovery, and drinking alcohol unnecessarily increases my already fast metabolism, which in turn ruins my sleep.

      2. I remember reading about some controversial Olympic swimming coaches who had swimmers take a shot of vodka right after the workout. It seems that alcohol used in moderation can actually be quite healthy for a person.

    4. Large amounts of alcohol make you unconscious. Unconscious = no REM sleep. You’re actually getting really shitty sleep white drunk.

      1. Alcohol only works so much with sleep.
        Maybe one can of beer or two, but after that, if you were to look at a chart you would see how good sleep would be going down as alcohol consumption goes up.
        I agree with you

    5. Agree. Two litres of red wine – sleep like a …… well, someone who is really asleep.

  6. I have trouble sleeping so i’m going to give Shiatsu an an acupuncture mat a try. Will ask some people in the know what the best type is.

  7. A 30-40 minute power nap in the afternoon does the trick and it’s great for your health.

  8. Here’s my advice that works for me. Everyone is different, so realize it may not work for you as well. Don’t drink caffeine after 4. Clear your mind before bed: worrying about work or life keeps you awake. I use my imagination instead. Using my imagination puts me in a more dreamlike state that leads to sleep more easily.
    No computer or phone usage before bed. Try reading instead. Worrying about Disqus notifications can keep you awake.

    1. I use computer before bed for work but I have installed this program called f.lux that gets rid of all the high-frequency-spectrum light.
      Bright lights (specifically high-frequency) tell your brain to stay alert because it signifies daylight. You have special receptors in your retina for this.
      If you cut out high-spectrum light you’ll build up melatonin and eventually pass out.
      At around 7 my computer screen starts to turn orange and it allows me to eventually conk out.

    2. I agree about positive imagery. Just sitting there visualizing the GOODs in life is better than worrying about the bads.

  9. My mattress is an absolute piece of shit. Its basically collapsed, as has the box spring. Sleep is difficult and shitty. When I slept over my friends house after a party a few months ago, I felt so rested. Sleep is so important. When I sleep more than 7 hours, Im on my game. When I sleep less than that, I bumble around and am not as witty or alert.

  10. I see bad back and unexplained acid reflux together a lot. When your posture is messed up, you have a lot of unnatural stress on your internal organs. I suggest some lifts that build back muscles or some yoga to rehabilitate those areas. Yoga fixed that problem for me.

  11. I’ll testify to the author’s injuries, bring another ex airborne. You hit the ground Sp freaking hard. A military jump is nothing like sky-diving.
    Shit I haven’t been able to sleep well for years, but due to other things. I’ll try this method.

  12. Crazy relevance Henry. I’ll probably be buying one of these in the next month or two based on your suggestion.
    There is NOTHING more important than quality sleep. I’ll take 4-5 hours of quality sleep over 7-8 tossing and turning any day of my life.

  13. Another ancient tool for sleeping better is a hammock (at least that is what’s claimed. Never tried it before). Supposedly, it simulates the womb.

  14. I have had acupuncture for years and it does work. I never heard of this acupuncture mat, but I’ll give it a try. Thanks .

  15. For acid reflux, buy a product called Mastica… it’s the gum from a pine tree… I discovered it while in Greece and it was unheard of, just a local chewing gum for peasants, but now it’s become widely available as a health supplement….
    I also found Mohitos work great…. something to do with the mint and lime and alcohol extracting the oils from the plants… it’s a much more fun remedy….
    There’s also something called LIPH that’s meant to be great.

  16. Another thing that might help you out is Chiropractic. It’s a little bit pseudoscientific but it works for me. I suspect it might help you with your Acid Reflux as well. Another thing to think about is drinking a little bit of Apple Cider Vinegar every day. It does wonders for a mans digestion.

  17. Ironically, the way I got back to sleeping relatively normally is to just stop caring. I’m very careful with my health but overthinking the sleep stuff just made it worse and worse. Thinking I needed 7-8 hours a night would just have me counting minutes, checking the clock etc.
    So eventually I just stopped caring, since I workout and eat right I would function fine during the day most of the time. Magically I started sleeping right on time. If I wake up in the middle of the night (usually once after 4 hours then fall right back asleep within minutes) I don’t check the clock. Usually it’s to use the bathroom and then go right back to bed. Also, if there’s anything worrying you just try to put it in your mind that it can wait until tomorrow (within reason). Any anxiety will keep you tossing and turning.
    I probably get around 6-8 hours a night and wake up once halfway through.

    1. For my friends that have difficulty falling asleep due to thinking too much, I always recommend FUCKITOL. Patented formula, zero side effects, zero cost. Take once daily.

  18. The main rule I use to make sure I sleep is to not work/facebook/internet/TV etc in the space that I sleep.
    If you are working your brain on your bed all the time you’ll subconsciously associate your bed with mental activity rather than sleep.
    Make your sleep space just for that… rest and sleep…

  19. Boron does wonders for joints, and has surprising effects on hormones, and in the US we have one of the lowest intakes in the world. Fluoride in water worsens the problem. This is why Jamaica has the very worst rate of arthritis-fluoridated water and almost no boron from excessive sugar cane production. Meanwhile Israel with about 10mg intake of borax a day has the lowest rate of arthritis(and they just eliminated fluoridation). It cleared my shoulder pain that prevented me to bench press in 3 days(I was taking 30mg ish levels which is a bit excessive).

  20. You guys want to know how to sleep a lot better?
    So a huge part of poor sleep is due to snoring (especially for dudes), and really more with mouth breathing in general during sleep from the jaw relaxing. In my experience, the body doesn’t seem to take in as much oxygen if the jaw relaxes and one begins mouth breathing. Even if you’re not snoring you might wake up with a dry mouth, especially in winter and will immediately be able to tell this was going on. If snoring is taking place, then your problems are even worse of course, and might be having full air restriction at times. Constantly waking up not fully rested.
    The solution? Well I tried to Breathe-Right strips for a time, but was unimpressed.
    So then what? Tape your mouth shut when you sleep! Yep! Haha, tape the mouth shut using some kind of mild sticky tape, like a masking tape or painter’s tape, not a sticky duct tape or clear plastic tape, I find brown box tape to be the best…no irritation to the skin and peels off easily cause it’s made for easy removal in general. There are chin strap devices one can purchase I have seen too, if you’re not into the tape idea, but the tape is cheap and simple, IMO.
    Anyway, it took me about 7 days to fully get used to it. I would wake up with the tape peeled off and found somewhere on the floor, must have pulled it off in my sleep. My body had a strong desire to mouth breath during sleep and it felt claustrophobic at first when starting to fall asleep. But eventually it worked, stayed on all night…and holy shit, started sleeping like a baby!
    The extent to which nasal breathing during sleep (and really all day long) aids in better oxygen intake and lungs filling properly is vastly underestimated. It’s a huge deal, I actually think there is slight/slow weight loss from better nasal breathing during sleep, cause I haven’t changed anything else, don’t even exercise.

    1. Sleep apnea might the cause of poor sleep. That snoring means you might need a C-Pap. I got my father into going for a sleep study. They found out he had sleep apnea. The C-Pap machine is basically a machine that just pushes out pressured air so your tongue doesn’t shut the air that is coming and out of your mouth.
      I tell you the machine makes you a new man!

  21. I appreciate your honesty regarding doctors and pushing meds. tragic really.
    Regarding acid reflux, what time do you eat? I make dinner a light meal and eat before 6pm. If I eat later than that, well…..
    Like you, I rode my body hard and put it away wet. My Wife usually sleeps separate from me, I get pretty aggravated with her sleeping in bed with me. Total silence, black out, no TV, cool room, separate blanket and mattress, stiff bed and a couple of practiced sleeping positions. I used to be able to sleep like a rock too, sucks right?

  22. Read Kevin Trudeau’s “More Natural Cures” book. It has a section on “acid reflux” and how to fix it. The permanent solutions he gave were talking to a medical practitioner who doesn’t use drugs or surgery, getting off all prescription and non-prescription drugs, getting rid of the Candida yeast overgrowth in your body (Trudeau recommends Jeff McCombs’ book “Lifeforce”), and switching to organic, unprocessed food. Quick fix solutions are taking a spoon of raw apple cider vinegar before every meal and getting some digestive enzymes, ideally with betaine hydrochloric acid. The quick fixes are not meant to be permanent, mind you.

  23. Great article indeed , not enough topics on over all Heath phsysicle or mental on Rok . Couple of sups I’m currently using and they seem to be working for me . Dendrobium good for replenishing fluids lost from to much sex or masterbation , reishi mushroom calms nerves / liver support , Chaga mushrooms anti – oxidant / immune support . Get with the mushrooms maaaan !

  24. The VA is huge on overly medicating vets.
    It’s a pretty bad cycle.
    My recommendation:
    1.) Stretch for 15 to 30 minutes a day
    2.) Go for massage therapy – they have student ones in my area for $30 for an hour and boy do these students do well!
    3.) Have sex/masterbate
    4.) Exercise
    5.) Eat foods like celery and other foods that reduce blood pressure and elevate mood
    6.) laugh before bedtime … For no reason (it reduces blood pressure, calms nerves, etc)
    7.) Meditate
    8.) they have a community acupuncture in my state that does 1 hour sessions for $15.
    9.) Say FUCK pills and the pharmaceutical companies. Your body is your own medication!

  25. Thanks for this article. I readily and hopefully read this article and all comments looking for a solution. I have hd the hardest time falling asleep and then when I fall asleep I do not ever get to a deep sleep state. I am a chronic pain patient (ruptured cervical and herniated lumbar) and also get severe headaches that can last for days at a time.
    1. I stretch but not enough.
    2. I do meditate at times.
    3. I have tried melatonin plus valerian root with no success.
    4. Xanex makes me fall sleep but no deep sleep and not long sleep.
    5. I get 2 hours of massage a week and I see a chiropractor twice a week who also does acupuncture.
    6. I bought an $80 pillow that you fill with water. I love the pillow.
    I am very much hoping this au mat will work.
    Bring on the PAIN.
    and no I am not into S&M just want a good nights sleep.

  26. I’d like to add in my own experience.
    After reading this article, I promptly went and purchased on of the mat that Mr. Brown described. I’ve had difficulty for a long time with sleep due to being overweight. While I’ve managed to lose almost half my body weight, I was still plagued with back problems and difficulty sleeping.
    The mats work, on a level that I would call flat-out miraculous. The first time I used it was painful, but within ten minutes I was asleep. No tossing or turning, I didn’t change position once all night and I didn’t snore (which is a miracle in itself). Now I am usually falling asleep within a minute or two of lying down on the mat. I got one that had a full neck pillow as well, which is fantastic.
    So to the author of this article: thank you, your input has helped another man to get the sleep he hasn’t experienced since high school.

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