Does Drinking Lettuce Water Help With Sleep?
Does the Lettuce-Water TikTok Sleep Hack Really Work?
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If you're looking for a quick, easy, and affordable way to fall asleep, chances are you've come across the lettuce-water trend on TikTok. Videos tagged #LettuceWater have amassed over 41 million views. User @shapla_11 (Shapla Hoque) posted this video on the sleep hack. "I was having trouble sleeping for a week and Googled 'home sleep remedies,' and found out lettuce has some properties that help with sleep, she told POPSUGAR. The website didn't say to make it into a tea, Hoque said, but since she doesn't like raw lettuce, she just boiled it with some water to make lettuce tea. After sipping a Superman-mug-full, "within 30 minutes, I was super drowsy and tired!" she said. At the end of the video, clearly looking tired, Hoque says, "Your sis is gone." The caption on the video says, "if you can't sleep, try this." But does it really work? POPSUGAR asked sleep specialist Michael Breus, PhD, to weigh in on whether lettuce water actually helps with sleep.
How Do You Make Lettuce Water?
In most of the TikTok videos tagged with #LettuceWater, you take a huge handful of iceberg, Romaine, or another type of lettuce, steep the leaves in hot water for several minutes (up to 15), remove the lettuce, and then drink the warm veggie broth. Some users have added peppermint tea to the leaves to help with the flavor.
Will Drinking Lettuce Water Help Me Sleep?
Dr. Breus said there is no evidence in humans to prove that drinking hot lettuce water will help with sleep. There is a study using lettuce leaves and lettuce seed extracts on mice showing the sleep-inducing potential, but no studies on humans specifically. Wild lettuce was once used in folk medicine as a sedative during the 19th century, specifically a dried milky substance secreted called lactucarium. But Michelle Drerup, PsyD, says in a New York Times article, "boiling a few leaves would not release enough extract to have an effect on you."
So if the science isn't there, why are so many lettuce-water drinkers falling asleep? According to Dr. Breus, "People are desperate [for sleep] and following a trend." He thinks it is "100 percent" a placebo effect. If you drink something that you think and hope will make you sleepy, you're more likely to feel the dozing effects. It could also be the act of sipping on a warm beverage at night that helps people fall asleep.
Either way, drinking lettuce water isn't harmful, so feel free to give it a try. Just know that when you start feeling sleepy, it may be your mind playing tricks on you rather than the lettuce doing its job.
What Are Natural Habits For Better Sleep?
While sleep hacks are great if they work, Dr. Breus believes in making sure to establish good sleep hygiene. He suggests adding these five simple habits to your daily routine to help you get better quality sleep:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Eliminate caffeine starting at 2 p.m. as this stimulant has been shown to reduce total sleep time by up to 41 minutes when consumed within six hours of bedtime.
- Eliminate alcohol at least three hours before bedtime to help your body get enough REM sleep, which is vitally important for getting deep, restorative sleep.
- Get plenty of physical activity for better sleep and better overall health. Data suggests that exercising during the day helps you fall asleep more quickly and plunges you into longer, deeper sleep.
- Get 15 minutes of sunlight every morning to help keep your circadian rhythm functioning at its best.