We all know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Yet, according to a 2022 study titled the State of Sleep in America, nearly 84 million US adults struggle to get quality sleep.
In an attempt to solve their sleep woes, many folks are turning to social media for finding the perfect cure. Tiktok, in particular, has quickly become a virtual wellspring of sleep advice with the hashtag #sleephacks garnering over 200 million views on the app.
But do these trending sleep hacks have any scientific standing? Here’s what the experts say:
#1 Stimulate the vagus nerve: This TikTok hack suggests icing your vagus nerve with a bag of frozen peas to help you relax and doze off more easily.
The verdict: “Although both cold and heat affect sleep and wakefulness, the impact of cold may be greater than heat. A body that is too cold will struggle to fall asleep,” says Dr. Anne Persaud, CEO of This Works and a biochemist who has been studying sleep, circadian rhythms and wellness since 2009. “That said, the vagus nerve is not directly involved in the process of falling asleep or staying asleep. Your circadian rhythm is controlled by the hypothalamus—which processes shifts in light and temperature to signal the production of melatonin and sleep,” she explains.
#2 Lower the bedroom temperature: This practical sleep hack posted by TikTok user @caseyrosenberg suggests that lowering your bedroom temperature to 18-20 degrees could be the key to unlocking deep, restful sleep.
The verdict: “This is a proven strategy for better sleep,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, sleep scientist and expert to Savoir Beds and co-author of Sleep for Success. “A cooler bedroom temperature will keep you in a ‘thermal neutral’ zone and not cause your sleep to be disrupted as your body temperature changes while going in and out of the various sleep stages,” she explains.
#3 The 4-7-8 technique: In another viral video, TikTok user @thesleepdoctor recommends using this relaxation technique that involves breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of seven and then exhaling for a count of eight.
The verdict: Breathwork exercises such as the 4-7-8 technique or box breathing are wonderful relaxation strategies that may help ease your sleep troubles as they promote calmness, says Dr. Robbins. They stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system which slows your breathing rate and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate—consequently helping your body enter a state of relaxation, explains the sleep expert.
#4 Drink lettuce water: A trending sleep hack that has been liked by over one million users on TikTok claims that drinking lettuce water or ‘lettuce tea’ may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
The verdict: “While there are trace amounts of sleep-inducing substances in lettuce, you would have to drink an enormous amount of lettuce water to truly benefit from them,” says Dr. Robbins. “It’s possible that people may be experiencing a placebo effect when trying this remedy,” notes Dr. Persaud. “The one study most often cited to support this theory actually sedated the mice before administering the lettuce extract,” adds the sleep expert.
#5 Snack on a banana: According to TikTok user @allison, eating a banana before going to bed may help ease your sleep woes. She also recommends this for babies who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
The verdict: Bananas are a good source of sleep-promoting nutrients like magnesium and tryptophan—a melatonin precursor, says Dr. Persaud. In addition, “they contain vitamin B6 which is involved in the conversion of tryptophan to melatonin,” she notes. “They also contain fiber which can positively impact sleep,” adds Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona. However, it’s important to note that if you’re taking melatonin—from any source—right before going to bed, it may be too late for it to be effective. “It’s best to take it four to six hours before bedtime for optimal impact on sleep,” suggests Dr. Grandner.
#6 Rub behind your ear aka the Anmian point: This TikTok sleep hack involves rubbing the little ridge behind your ear about 100 to 200 times to help you relax and “make sleep easier.”
The verdict: “Perhaps this may influence feelings of relaxation, but I don’t know of any data that would lead me to believe that this can influence sleep at all,” says Dr. Grandner.
#7 Mouth-taping: Another popular sleep tip shared by TikTok user @lexfish claims that taping your mouth with a special porous tape may supposedly help reduce snoring and promote better sleep by encouraging you to breathe through your nose.
The verdict: “Sleeping with your mouth open causes the jaw and tongue to fall back further, blocking the airway and making it more difficult to breathe. Using a medically-approved tape may improve snoring and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms,” explains Stephanie Taylor, wellbeing expert and founder of StressNoMore. “However, this method isn’t for anyone who has nasal obstructions,” she cautions.
#8 Limit the light in the bedroom: According to TikTok user Dr. Jess Andrade, eliminate as much light as you can from your bedroom (whether it’s from the lamps, LED bulbs or your smartphones and laptops) could help you catch better zzz’s.
The verdict: “Light sends a daytime signal to your brain. So when your eyes see light at night, it can confuse your internal clock and keep you awake a little longer,” explains Dr. Grandner. “Blue light emitted from screens also increases mental activation and distraction—making it harder to fall asleep,” he adds. If you aren’t comfortable sleeping in a dark room, Dr. Grandner suggests using a dim night light in the red-orange-yellow spectrum as these frequencies of light are more protective of sleep.
#9 Create a pillow barrier between you and your partner: If you’re sleeping next to a partner and struggling to get a good night’s rest because of all the tossing and turning and cover hogging, husband and wife duo @rezaandpuja suggest putting up a pillow wall between you both to get some shut-eye.
The verdict: “This could be good for anyone who struggles to fall asleep next to their partner as it might block out any noise. Plus, it ensures you have your own space,” Taylor says. “However, this might not be great for intimacy,” she points out.
#10 Watch ASMR videos: ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos specifically created to induce sleep are another trend on TikTok as well as YouTube that’s been racking up millions of views.
The verdict: “ASMR appears to activate regions of the brain associated with calming, sleep-inducing hormones like dopamine and oxytocin,” states the Sleep Foundation. “Although it has not been widely studied, it appears to be extremely relaxing to some people. If you find yourself needing to fall asleep to something, such as a television program or a podcast, ASMR may be beneficial to you,” says Dr. Robbins. For best results, set a timer so the clip doesn’t continue to play and risk waking you from a later stage of sleep during the night, she suggests.
#11 Wear blue light blocking glasses: One TikTok user recommends wearing glasses with blue light filters while using electronic devices at nighttime to keep artificial blue light from disrupting your natural sleepwear cycle.
The verdict: “Using blue light blocking glasses may help, but any stimulus from light sources may increase alertness whether tempered by glasses or not,” says Dr. Persaud. Both Dr. Robbins and Dr. Persaud recommend avoiding any digital devices at least an hour prior to bedtime.
#12 Journaling: This TikTok sleep tip suggests that jotting down your thoughts before going to bed may help clear your mental palate allowing you to fall asleep faster.
The verdict: “Journaling can be an excellent way to take all the worries and thoughts out of your mind and put them on paper. That way, your thoughts have somewhere to go,” says Dr. Grandner. “This allows people to give themselves permission to let go of the day,” he adds.
#13 Massage your wrists: To fall asleep in under two minutes, TikTok user @kadama suggests gently massaging your wrists for 30 to 60 seconds in a circular motion. This is thought to reduce anxiety, stress and improve sleep quality.
The verdict: “Like normal massages, which have been found to elicit the parasympathetic nervous system response of ‘rest and digest’, this method could be a soothing sleep tactic,” Taylor says.
Why is getting quality sleep important?
“Sleep is fundamental to how your body works as it plays many important roles in the immune system, metabolism, cardiovascular system, brain function, emotional regulation, etc,” says Dr. Grandner. “Getting quality sleep also allows your body and brain to do all the important maintenance and help all of those systems work the way they are supposed to,” he adds.
Consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep makes you more likely to be slower, make more mistakes and not process information as efficacy, notes Dr. Grandner.
It’s also harder to control your mood when you’re running low on sleep, says Dr. Persaud. Poor sleep quality may also impact your creativity and decision-making, she adds.
“People who don’t sleep well also get sick more often and for longer,” Dr. Grandner points out. In addition, getting insufficient sleep makes your metabolism less efficient.
“For these and other reasons, people who don’t sleep well get less done—even if they spend more time awake,” says the sleep expert.
Moreover, you can also see the impact of bad sleep on your skin within 24 hours from dark circles—which are intensified during periods of poor quality to loss of skin elasticity, sensitivity and development of wrinkles and fine lines, says Dr. Persaud.
If you’re struggling to sleep despite having tried everything, consider speaking with your healthcare provider at the earliest.