Separating the sleep fact from the sleep fiction – debunking TikTok’s sleep tips

TikTok’s sleep tips

In a world consumed by social media, sometimes it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction. More and more of us are turning to sites like Instagram and TikTok for tips on wellbeing – be it diet, exercise, meditation, or even sleep advice. But with so much advice now available online, it can prove difficult to understand which tips are beneficial, and which are doing you more harm than good!

Here, Alison Jones, a sleep expert who has over 14 years of experience at leading mattress brand Sealy UK, debunks some of the trending social media sleep trends to separate the fact from the fiction once and for all!

The ‘sleepy girl mocktail’

The sleepy girl mocktail is a drink often hailed as the solution to those struggling for a good night’s sleep. Some report that mixing cherry juice, magnesium powder and sparkling water will create a mocktail solution that aids sleep. This is because cherry juice contains a high volume of melatonin (a sleep hormone) and tryptophan (the precursor of serotonin).

When these are mixed with a supplement such as magnesium, the mind is quietened and supposedly allows for a better night’s sleep. The content has been viewed and shared millions of times across the platform, with many users swearing by it!

Unfortunately, this ‘sleepy girl mocktail’ drink is no magic bullet for the sleep deprived amongst us. Drinking a mocktail before bed will only mean you’re likely to be up-and-down in the night with frequent bathroom visits, so may be best to avoid!

The key to a good night’s sleep, according to Alison’s expertise, is maintaining good sleep hygiene habits. That means reducing your intake of food and drink before bed, not drinking caffeine after noon and sticking to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends or holidays

Consistent sleep patterns promote deeper, more restorative sleep, rather than an inconsistent schedule, which can lead to sleep disturbances, such as waking up during the night and starting the day feeling groggy.

Stimulate the vagus nerve

Discovering the key to better sleep might just involve a trip to your freezer, or so say TikTok enthusiasts. They propose an unconventional method: placing an ice pack on your chest for a few minutes before bedtime. Allegedly, this targets the vagus nerve and induces a state of relaxation that aids falling asleep.

Alison has revealed however that stimulating the vagus nerve, as touted on TikTok, isn’t a magic fix for sleep troubles. The vagus nerve isn’t directly responsible for initiating or maintaining sleep. Instead, your body’s circadian rhythm, regulated by the hypothalamus, plays a central role. This internal clock responds to changes in light and temperature, signalling the production of melatonin to promote sleep.

With this in mind, although this rather unique approach may offer some relaxation benefits, it’s unlikely to significantly impact your ability to fall asleep or the quality of your sleep overall. For a deeper, more restorative nights sleep, Alison suggests investing in a mattress that will offer targeted and trusted pressure relief, reducing stress and strain on limbs and joints during the night. Not only will you sleep well and doze off with ease. But the body will experience far fewer aches and pains when awoken to continue with your day.

Lettuce water before bed’

The idea behind this trend suggests that drinking hot lettuce water before bedtime can assist in falling asleep faster, purportedly due to the sedative properties of lettuce.

Lettuce contains lactucarium, a milky substance found in wild varieties, believed to possess mild sedative and analgesic properties, fostering relaxation and potentially aiding in sleep.

However, while lactucarium does offer some sedative effects, the quantities typically present in a cup of lettuce water would be too minimal to take effect, and there’s also no actual scientific evidence to suggest it can promote deep sleep.

Other factors, such as stress levels and your sleep environment, would prove a greater influence when trying to catch some Z’s. For those who become restless and distracted during the night, Alison suggests playing ‘brown noise’ through your phone or radio.

Sometimes also referred to as red noise, brown noise creates a sound frequency that is deep, resembling strong winds or the ocean surf during a storm. The benefits of brown noise include relaxation by drowning out other sounds and distractions, which in turn helps to induce sleep.

Mouth taping’

It’s a TikTok trend that has been championed by several celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow.

Mouth taping, a practice where individuals tape their mouths shut during sleep to encourage nasal breathing, is purported to prevent mouth breathing and reduce snoring – leading to a more restful sleep with minimal interruptions during the night.

While mouth taping has gained attention as a potential solution for snoring, it’s more of a passing trend, with limited evidence supporting its effectiveness in improving sleep. While it might provide temporary relief for snoring, it doesn’t address the root causes of these issues, like nasal congestion or structural airway problems.

In reality, mouth taping would likely lead to discomfort and disrupted sleep for those who struggling with restlessness, by aggravating mouth irritation and potentially causing issues catching your breath during the night. For lasting solutions to sleep problems such as snoring and breathing difficulties, it’s best to seek advice from a healthcare professional who will address underlying issues and provide safe and effective treatments, tailored to your needs.

The sensation of having your mouth taped shut could also induce anxiety, making it even more difficult to relax and fall asleep.

Social media can offer a wealth of sleep-related information and advice. But a word of warning – approach with caution.

Instead, consider proven methods of improving sleep, before resorting to social media ‘quick fixes’ – such as keeping your bedroom temperature between 16-18 degrees Celsius, sticking to a rigid bedtime schedule, eating well and exercising, and investing in a quality mattress that will maintain your body’s natural alignment during the night. A supportive mattress above all else is proven to reduce sleep disruptions during the night, allowing you to catch up on some well needed rest before scrolling online to find the next TikTok sleeping trend!

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