Can lettuce water help you fall asleep easily? TikTok trend examined

Exploring the facts and science behind the TikTok trend claiming that drinking lettuce water can help you sleep better.

  (photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)
(photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)

People have turned to drinking lettuce water as a potential solution for insomnia, with TikTok videos claiming that a glass of hot water infused with lettuce leaves can aid in falling asleep quickly. While lettuce is more beneficial as part of a salad, there may be some truth to this.

Recently, lettuce has gained attention for its potential beyond being a mere salad ingredient. In a popular TikTok trend, many users swear by the effectiveness of drinking hot water infused with lettuce leaves to combat insomnia and sleep better. One TikTok user, Shapla Hoque (shapla_11), managed to draw significant attention to this trend. In her video, she can be seen sipping the unappetizing drink and gradually falling asleep in front of the camera.

Hook wrote in her video, "Apparently drinking lettuce water makes you sleepy, so — sis don't sleep, so I'm gonna try it out." She proceeded to tear off some lettuce leaves, placed them in her drinking cup, poured boiling water, and added mint tea for taste. After letting it soak for 10 minutes, she removed the lettuce leaves, took a sip, and later updated her followers by saying that she felt "slightly sleepy."

In a subsequent update, she closed her eyes and said, "Another update lettuce has crack because your sis is gone."

In a follow-up video the next morning, Hoque claimed that it took her approximately 30 to 40 minutes to fall asleep. Her initial video garnered over 7.3 million views and received more than 1.4 million likes. Encouraged by her experience, many people embraced the trend and posted their own videos under the hashtag #lettucewater, collectively accumulating over 12 million views. Despite these testimonials, the question remains: Does drinking lettuce water really help you sleep?

 Can't sleep because of the heat? (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)
Can't sleep because of the heat? (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)

What does science have to say about this? 

Before you rush to try this it, it's crucial to know that experts believe that unless you're a rat, the chances of this working for you are close to zero. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine and the director of the Sleep Center at Columbia University's Irving Medical Center, told Insider that there is no research proving the effectiveness of lettuce water in inducing sleep. However, studies have shown that lettuce has assisted rats in sleeping for extended periods.

A 2017 study published in the journal Food Science Biotechnology explored whether low and high doses of red lettuce extract could help mice stay asleep for longer. The results showed that this specific type of lettuce, as well as several others tested, did enhance sleep duration in rats and mice. St-Onge noted that these findings do not necessarily align with Hoque's experiences for several reasons. She explained it was unclear what kind of lettuce Hoque used. Second, the concentration of lettuce extract used in the mice was very high. "How much of those lettuce extracts are you getting from water? I'm not sure," she said.

Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and author specializing in sleep, emphasizes that the mice study does not support the notion that lettuce water can help you sleep for several reasons.

He points out that the lettuce extract alone did not induce sleep in the mice; instead, it helped prolong their sleep duration. Breus states, "These mice were drugged when given the lettuce."

He said the mice were injected with pentobarbital, a sedative, to induce sleep after being orally administered the extract. Furthermore, while the study compared sleep state and duration among mice eating different lettuce extracts, it did not compare those who ate lettuce extract to those who did not. As such, it is impossible to determine from the data whether the sleeping drug or the lettuce itself contributed to their rapid sleep or whether the mice would have slept longer even without the drug or lettuce extract.

Jackie Newgent, a New York dietitian and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook,, suggests that lettuce may theoretically promote sleep due to lactucin, a bitter plant compound, and the antioxidant polyphenols. However, drinking lettuce water made from just a few leaves is unlikely to have a significant impact on sleep.

So, is it worth trying? While it is questionable at best if drinking lettuce water can help you sleep, experts do agree that doing this isn't in any way harmful, making it safe to experiment with. However, Newgent advises paying attention to the amount of water you use, as excessive fluid intake before bed can disrupt sleep by necessitating multiple trips to the bathroom during the night and said you should always make sure to wash lettuce thoroughly first.

If the success rate is so low, why do TikTok users insist that lettuce water helps them fall asleep?

The experts unanimously agree: it's likely due to the placebo effect. St-Onge told Insider, "If you expect something to work, then you probably feel more sleepy."

Although the trend poses no harm, St-Onge suggests focusing on consuming lettuce as part of a meal rather than drinking its boiled water.

"I would much prefer to see people eat lettuce than drink its boiled water. Whole lettuce leaves provide vitamins and minerals that may not be available from the water," she said, according to Everyday Health.

Newgent recommends alternative methods for falling asleep, such as drinking tart cherries or tart cherry juice. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics in March-April 2018 found that these cherries contain melatonin and are associated with improved sleep efficiency and duration.