I have tried everything you can think of to help me sleep. Meditation, reading before bed, yoga—I’ve even tried to give up coffee and tea. Sacrilege! Emphasis on the tried. Nothing seems to really do the trick, but a new (and weird) solution has appeared. A TikTok video went viral on the app towards the end of May, which showed a woman drinking boiled lettuce water for its apparent drowsing effects. Science actually agrees but we’ll get to that later on.
Yeah, boiled lettuce water—that does not sound appealing. TikToker Shapla Hoque uploaded a video where she tests this method and monitors whether or not it actually works. The clip has now been viewed a whopping six million times.
In the clip she maps out her methods, “I’ve washed my lettuce and I’m gonna put it in a cup and then pour some kettle water. […] I added peppermint tea because I’m scared it will taste like shit and no—peppermint doesn’t make me sleepy so it won’t change anything.” Hoque goes on to update us on her journey into drowsiness throughout the clip, ending the experiment saying “another update, lettuce has crack because your sis’ is gone.” Hoque’s TikTok has inspired numerous other users to try the same hack.
Many agreed completely. Apparently, it’s been a long known secret. One comment wrote, “My mum used to do this for me, boiled water and [left] it in the pan for 5 min on minimum heat, always worked for me and it’s all natural.” Another wrote, “In Mexico people bathe their babies in lettuce baths, it’s a neat trick to get babies to sleep.”
In a later video, Hoque updated viewers on the details saying that the process to make the water took around 10 to 12 minutes and the effects began to hit around half an hour after drinking it. She also advised to not use peppermint tea because it can keep you awake. Hoque continued, “Also, reading the comments, people were telling me to use wild lettuce or romaine lettuce because apparently, they have more of the ‘sleepy’ chemical.”
Apparently, she’s right. Romaine lettuce does have more of the ‘sleepy’ chemical but what exactly is it? Lettuce leaves apparently hold a chemical called Lactuca Sativa, which has mild sedative properties. A 2017 study found that “romaine lettuce had a higher lactucin content compared to green and red lettuce.” Researchers tested the effect on mice and found that “the seed extract derived from green romaine lettuce significantly reduced sleep latency and increased sleep duration in pentobarbital-induced mice when compared to other lettuce varieties.”
“Thus, the seed and leaf extracts derived from romaine lettuce induced an increase in the sleep duration at low and high doses respectively,” the study continued. It appears that the science is there. I never thought I’d say that about a TikTok health trend. Furthermore, the study also suggests that some of the best methods to induce drowsiness are often found in more holistic approaches. Goodbye sleeping pills, hello lettuce water. So, now that you know that its sleepy factor has nothing to do with pesticides and other toxic products, are you going to give it a try? I think I might. Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.