I Tried 6 TikTok Hacks For Better Sleep — Here’s What Worked (And What Didn’t)

published Feb 21, 2023
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Portrait of young woman with sleep mask in bed.
Credit: Getty Images/ Westend61

I love a good sleep hack. One of my New Year’s resolutions has been to get in my workout before the workday starts, which means waking up before the sun and getting my butt to the gym first thing in the morning. Adjusting sleep patterns in order to wake up earlier doesn’t happen overnight (pun intended). It’s a gradual process that starts by tweaking and adjusting your routine the night before. So where did I turn for some new bedtime routine ideas? I know I can find tips, tricks, hacks, and more on TikTok.

The social media platform gave me lots of new things to try when it comes to sleeping better and falling asleep faster — and I tried a bunch of them to see which ones worked for me, and which ones fell flat. Read on for a full review of six different sleep hacks, and which ones I’ll be sticking with. 

4-7-8 Breath 

Dr. Poonam Desai, or @doctoranddancer on TikTok, recommends a breathing technique for when you’re lying in bed and unable to fall asleep. You simply inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. I’ve done similar breathing exercises during yoga practices and meditations, but I had never done it in bed before. On a night where my thoughts were going a mile a minute, I did a few rounds of this technique, but instead of calming me down, it made me a little anxious. It was interesting because counting inhales and exhales while not trying to fall asleep has zenned me out pretty quickly, but this time counting and holding the breath made me feel frustrated and uneasy. It felt counterproductive to count instead of just breathing deeply. Perhaps if I kept with it it might have worked, or maybe gotten out of bed and tried it while sitting like I do in meditation, but after five or 10 minutes of breathing, I let it go.

Tart Cherry Juice

This is a sleep hack loved by adults and toddlers alike: It’s being shared as a way for moms to help their kids fall asleep, as well as adults who are looking to sleep better and balance their hormones. I first saw this hack shared by Calee Shea (@caleeshea), a holistic health practitioner, who suggests trying a glass of tart cherry juice right before going to bed. There’s evidence that tart cherries can increase melatonin available to the body, which promotes better sleep. I poured myself a half cup of cherry juice and diluted it with half cup of water, and sipped on it starting around 8 p.m. The juice was tart and refreshing, and I headed into bed about 45 minutes later. By then, I had turned on our salt lamps (also great for easing into a good night’s rest!), read a few chapters of my book, and was sleeping by about 9:30 p.m. And let me tell you, I slept like a rock. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, whether a dream jolts me awake or I need a bathroom break, but I slept soundly after drinking the cherry juice and woke up feeling great and ready to start my day. I’ll stick with this cherry juice hack! It’s tasty and comes with other health benefits as well, including decreased muscle soreness, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it even potentially promotes brain health. 

Drunken Monkeys

Gentle movement before bed always helps me sleep soundly, so I knew I had to try a sleep hack Jake Crossman of @usamedical calls “drunken monkeys.” In his TikTok, he sways back and forth while rolling his shoulders back. He recommends doing these moves for about a minute before bed so there’s extra blood flow to your extremities, which will in turn help you relax. While I definitely felt a bit silly flopping around, it did make me more excited to get into bed, simply because my shoulders started to burn a little, and I was ready for a rest. I think I prefer doing a little bedtime yoga instead of drunken monkeys (more stretching, less wiggling around), but movement definitely helps me fall asleep faster!

Take a Warm Bath

Author, life coach, and former monk Jay Shetty (@jayshetty) shares five sleep hacks in his TikTok, and the one I knew I wanted to try was taking a bath one to two hours before bed. A nighttime bath sounded like a little luxury and something I normally don’t do, so I drew myself a bubble bath around 7 p.m (a little early, but I’ve been trying to make it into bed by 9 p.m. for those early gym dates). I soaked for about 20 minutes and watched Netflix from the tub, thanks to my laptop and a big empty box, and it was indeed pretty luxurious. Once I got out of the tub, my body was warm, and I needed some time to acclimate back to a normal temperature before I was comfortable getting under the covers. Once I cooled down, I read for another 20 minutes and to my surprise, was asleep before 9 p.m. Woohoo! Next time I’ll make my bath a little more warm than hot so I’m not sweating in my pajamas for a few minutes, but I’d say taking a bath definitely set me up for a good night’s rest. 

Cognitive Shuffling

TikTok creator @joelchesters shared a trick he learned from an Oxford professor called cognitive shuffling. It’s essentially listing random things in your mind for an extended period of time. The more random the better, and he shared that this will get you to fall asleep in five minutes or less. On a particular night when I was having trouble falling asleep, I tried this method and went on and on and on in my brain until my thoughts turned to, is this working? I don’t know if this is working. Trying this hack out made me realize the methods that involve the mind (like counting  the 4-7-8 breath) didn’t work as well for me. It’s like the cognitive shuffling was keeping me awake instead of lulling me to sleep. I was thinking too much about random things to allow my body to really rest and fall asleep, so I won’t be coming back to this hack on my next restless night.

The Anmian Acupuncture Point

Dr. Eileen (@anew.acu) is an acupuncturist and shares tons of different acupressure points on her TikTok that you can apply pressure to for myriad purposes, including better sleep. The Anmian, or peaceful sleep acupuncture point, is right behind your ears, and Eileen recommends applying gentle pressure to these two points with your thumbs while you lie on your back in bed, and doing so for about a minute. I’m not sure if I had the acupuncture point exactly right, or if I was perhaps pressing too hard or not enough, but I’m not sure if it helped me fall asleep any faster than usual. I was already pretty tired when I first tried this hack, so maybe it worked? I tried it a few nights in a row with the same results: I fell asleep relatively quickly, but didn’t really feel like I was getting sleepier as I was doing it. Maybe that’s the point? Let’s just call it a win, since I fell asleep quickly every time!