Can TikTok’s Lettuce Water Trend Really Help You Sleep Better?

A woman in bed holding a glass of water.
Drinking a glass of lettuce water before bed has been gaining attention online as a natural sleep aid, but can it really help you get a better night’s Zzz? skynesher/Getty Images
  • A new trend has emerged on TikTok that claims drinking a cup of lettuce water before bed can help you get to sleep faster.
  • A compound called Lactucarium found in lettuce is believed to have sedative effects.
  • However, experts say concentrations of lactucarium in lettuce water are too low to have any real effect.
  • Chamomile tea, magnesium, and lavender may be more effective sleep aids.

If you’re one of the estimated 70 million Americans with some form of sleep disorder, you’ll know that a good night’s sleep is often hard to come by.

According to a viral hack on TikTok, drinking lettuce water could help you drift off faster. In a video that has received more than 1.5 million likes, TikTok user Shapla Hoque shared the hack with her followers.

In the video, Hoque explains that lettuce water is believed to make you drowsy. She then mixes a cup of lettuce, boiling water, and peppermint, and tries it for herself.

In a video posted the following day, she said it took her around 30 to 40 minutes in total to fall asleep.

So, is drinking lettuce water before bed an effective sleep remedy? We asked two experts for their thoughts.

Why lettuce water probably won’t help you sleep

“The theory behind this trend is that drinking hot lettuce water before bedtime will help you fall asleep faster because of the sedative properties found in lettuce,” explains Korina Burkhard, sleep expert and board advisor at Dozy Sleep.

The property in question is lactucarium, a milky substance in wild lettuce believed to contain analgesic and mild sedative properties that promote relaxation and help with sleep.

While lactucarium does have some sedative properties, the concentrations of these found in a cup of lettuce water are likely too low to have any real effect.

Burkhard says that while drinking a cup of hot lettuce water could help you fall asleep faster in theory, its practical effectiveness is scientifically unproven, and thus, low.

There is a sliver of scientific evidence to support the sedative effects of lactucarium — but don’t get too excited. The study published in May 2017 in the journal Food Science Biotechnology was conducted on mice, not humans.

The study also looked specifically at the effects of red romaine lettuce, which differs from the green lettuce used by adaptors of this trend on social media. What’s more, it didn’t compare sleep latency and sleep duration between mice who were administered the extract and mice who weren’t.

Sas Parsad, nutritionist and founder of The Gut Co says it’s crucial to approach trends like these critically and consider evidence-based approaches to ensure effectiveness and safety.

“The relationship between dietary choices and sleep quality, including any potential impact on gut health and its relationship to better sleep, is an evolving area of research,” he notes. “However, I have doubts about the effectiveness of lettuce water in promoting sleep. While there’s some scientific support for the sedative properties of lactucarium, the amount present in a cup of lettuce water might be too small to impact sleep noticeably.”

In other words, there’s no scientific evidence that drinking lettuce water will help you sleep more soundly.

Health benefits of drinking lettuce water

The good news is lettuce water could have some non-sleep-related health benefits. Though it’s probably best to add it to a salad, instead of making it into a brew.

“Lettuce has low-calorie content and is high in water and fiber. So, drinking lettuce water can help aid digestion and maintain a healthy gut,” Burkhard points out.

“It can also provide vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, and other minerals. Lettuce contains calcium and magnesium, which can help improve bone health too,” she adds.

On top of that, lettuce also has a high antioxidant content which could counter oxidative stress and inflammation.

However, only a very small amount of these vitamins and minerals found in lettuce will likely still be present in lettuce water.

In this sense, Burkhard says lettuce water could be a good addition to your bedtime routine — just not as a solution to your sleep problems.

Natural sleep remedies that may be more effective

Lettuce water might be off the menu when it comes to improving how quickly you fall asleep, but what natural sleep remedies should you try?

What you avoid doing before bed may actually play a bigger role in how well you sleep. Burkhard says you should avoid taking depressants like alcohol or stimulants like nicotine and caffeine before bedtime.

“Stimulants will activate your brain and keep you awake longer, while depressants will lead to disrupted sleep,” she explains.

If you’re looking for an alternative to lettuce water, Burkhard recommends chamomile tea.

“Chamomile tea has been scientifically proven to be effective for inducing sleep,” she notes.

“It contains high levels of apigenin, an antioxidant that binds [to] receptors in your brain. So, it helps reduce anxiety and initiate sleep.”

There’s some evidence to suggest that magnesium may help you fall asleep quicker too.

A 2018 study found that intake of dietary magnesium could improve insomnia symptoms.

Lavender could also help you nod off. Studies show that just a sniff of a lavender plant before bed may be enough to improve the quality of your rest.  

For Burkhard, creating a consistent sleep schedule is what’s really important.

“When you stick to a sleep schedule, you reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle. So, your body will anticipate when to sleep, and the body’s internal clock will signal when to sleep and when to wake up,” she explains.

Her advice is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on weekends.

You should avoid the urge to nap during the day too, she says, as this can interrupt your circadian rhythm and make it more difficult to drift off at bedtime.

Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to a good night’s rest as well.

“Invest in comfortable bedding, pillows, and heavy curtains that block out light and remove any distractions like bright lights from TVs and electronics,” Burkhard advises.

Takeaway

Drinking lettuce water before bed is unlikely to do you any harm. Lettuce is, after all, generally, safe to consume.

If you have difficulty nodding off, it’s probably best not to rely on it as a primary sleep aid though.

Research is limited and experts aren’t convinced of its effectiveness. 

Better to turn to sleep aids with a better evidence base (like Chamomile tea, magnesium, and lavender) and to try expert-approved sleep tips like creating a consistent sleep routine.

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