May 19, 2024

Advanced Ailment Care

Elevating Health Solutions

Sleep Hacks 2024 – Forbes Vetted

7 min read

Poor sleep and fatigue are familiar to millions of people who live with insomnia, chronic sleep disorders or general anxiety that makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. Understandably, many are willing to try almost anything if it means improving their sleep quality. Sleep hacks like “sleepy girl mocktails” and mouth taping have recently gone viral on TikTok with millions of views and a significant amount of personal anecdotes, but is there any legitimacy to these DIY-type sleep aids?

To find out, I spoke with Dr. Carlos Nunez, M.D., chief medical officer at ResMed. He gave his thoughts on a handful of viral sleep “hacks” and whether there’s any truth to them—grading each one as a real hack or giving it a hard pass. He also shared some tips that he says can truly benefit sleep quality.

6 Trending Sleep Hacks: Hack Or Hard Pass?

Mouth Taping

Although it sounds a little strange, mouth taping has over 220.3 million views on TikTok and may actually be a beneficial hack for certain sleepers. Nunez says, “There are several medical reasons—such as sleep apnea or other dangerous sleep disorders—to keep your mouth closed at night, sometimes through taping, chin straps or other medically necessary means.”

With that said, you shouldn’t practice mouth taping if you have perfectly healthy sleep habits. “Closing an airway to breathe better in an effort to achieve a more restful night’s sleep can cause serious complications and might not be necessary given your medical history,” says Nunez.

Hack (with doctor approval): “Before partaking in this sleep trend, it’s of paramount importance that you consult a doctor,” Nunez says. Although he says mouth taping could be helpful for those with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, there are other sleep products doctors may recommend trying first, such as an ergonomic pillow.

Sleepy Girl Mocktail

On TikTok, the sleepy girl mocktail hashtag has more than 123.5 million views, making it the ultimate trending hack for getting better sleep. The beverage includes:

  • A half cup of tart cherry juice
  • Magnesium powder
  • Prebiotic soda

Studies have shown that magnesium has stress-relieving effects that can help promote relaxation before bedtime, and separately, that cherry juice can increase melatonin levels, time spent asleep and sleep quality.

“While it’s a catchy name, the legitimacy of this hack remains largely untested by clinical studies, which means claims cannot be made,” says Nunez. He says that anyone considering pouring themselves this type of concoction before bed should keep two things in mind.

First, he recommends speaking with a doctor to see if it’s safe for you to take magnesium for sleep. “With the addition of magnesium, it will be important to analyze your medical history to see if this supplement will have adverse effects on your body.” Second, Nunez cautions that a full sleepy girl mocktail before bed could mean a middle-of-the-night bathroom visit or two.

Pass: According to Nunez, “While perhaps a helpful trick to fall asleep for some, it may not prove to be the most successful at staying asleep throughout the night.”

Bed Rotting

Another trend making the rounds on TikTok is “bed rotting,” with more than 126.5 million views. Cousin to couch potato, bed rotting involves spending your entire day lying in bed, doing everything from eating, napping and scrolling from between your sheets. While it’s dubbed a self care tip, it’s hazardous for your quality of sleep.

Nunez says, “While it hasn’t been extensively studied, the dangers evoked by the name of this trend are quite telling. If you require more than seven to eight hours of rest per night, it could be indicative of a larger health issue.”

To keep yourself from the urge to spend all day in bed, Nunez suggests adjusting your associations. “Rather than thinking of your bed as a place to also scroll through social media endlessly, watch TV or read a book, start by only going to your bedroom when you’re ready to sleep,” he says.

He also suggests carving out time in your day to dedicate to movement, relaxation and sleep. “If the urge to sleep for extensive periods persists, the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor about possible solutions and recommended lifestyle changes that might help,” he says.

Pass: “While it might be relaxing to stay in bed for a few hours longer, it’s vital to get up and incorporate some movement into the day to maintain health,” says Nunez. If you have trouble winding down before bed, there are many sleep tech devices on the market to help, such as the Therabody SmartGoggles that can promote relaxation and sleepiness.

Cricket Feet

With over 14.8 million views, the cricket feet trend is a trick to help promote coziness and relaxation before bed. Like a cricket, you persistently rub your feet together while lying in bed under the covers, and it may actually be beneficial. Nunez says, “While largely anecdotal, for some individuals this can help calm and clear your mind to fall asleep.”

Hack: Nunez gives it a green light. “This movement can be meditative depending on the individual as they center themselves after a busy day,” he says.

Acupressure

The acupressure hashtag has more than 10.8 million views on TikTok, and according to Nunez, a long history across some traditional health practices. “Some people use acupressure points to help with relaxation and sleep,” he says. “However, if you try out this trend and find it’s not helping you to fall asleep, it could be due to the heightened focus on pressing your thumbs to your head, rather than allocating all your attention to relaxation.” He says a risk with this trend is the brain’s focus on the placement of the thumbs and whether it’s working, rather than directing undivided attention toward falling asleep.

Hack (if you do it right): While it might be helpful to initially calm down, individuals should focus solely on relaxing the mind and the entire body rather than external factors to fall asleep faster.

4-7-8 Breathing Method

Breathing techniques can be useful tools for promoting relaxation, coping with stress and may even be helpful for falling asleep. “There is some legitimacy to this, as focusing on slowing breath has proven successful with meditation and mindfulness practices,” says Nunez. “It can slow your heart rate and ease your mind to fall asleep.”

However, he says it’s important to stay focused on breathing rather than counting. “Find the easiest way to count out the seconds of holding your breath so you can focus less on the numbers and more on clearing your mind,” he suggests.

Hack: According to Nunez, “Many digital health wearables or fitness tracker devices can help track the seconds for you and will notify you when to inhale and when to exhale. As a result, you can take deep, meaningful breaths and promote better sleep.” Our top pick for wellness trackers is the functional and stylish Fitbit Charge 6.


Doctor-Approved Sleep Hacks

If you want to try a trending sleep hack, or already have and still can’t achieve quality rest, Nunez suggests consulting with a doctor who can advise on whether or not additional measures are beneficial or necessary.

Along with the viral sleep hacks he approved above, Nunez also recommends these three sleep tips below, saying they’re proven to help sleep quality.

Lights Off

As an alternative to the cricket feet hack to promote relaxation and coziness, Nunez says, “individuals may find more success in starting with ensuring the room they are sleeping in is quiet, cool and dark. This will help to eliminate distractions and promote a better night of sleep.” If it’s difficult to create a dark environment in your bedroom, consider trying blackout curtains.

Set A Bedtime Routine

“The biggest sleep hack (and the easiest to achieve) is setting a bedtime routine and optimizing the environment of the room where you sleep,” says Nunez. “Sleep is the third pillar of health, along with what you eat and your level of physical activity, and establishing a consistent routine of quality sleep has been shown to improve concentration, increase productivity and help you feel overall more positive.” We frequently recommend the Hatch Restore 2 Alarm Clock to help build and maintain a nighttime routine.

Stay Away From Electronics

“You should also ensure the place where you sleep is dark, quiet, cool and distraction-free” says Nunez. “This means unplugging from digital devices to enhance focus on relaxation.” Studies show it’s best to avoid screens 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime.


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