Patients are claiming lettuce water promotes sleep. Is there truth in it?

By Stephanie Srakocic | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published November 29, 2023
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Key Takeaways

  • Viral TikTok videos claim that lettuce water acts as a sleep aid.

  • A study found that Lettuce extract promoted sleep in mice, but the results haven’t been replicated in humans.

  • Drinking lettuce water is likely harmless.

It’s become common for health tricks and tips to gain popularity via TikTok. In recent months, the claim that drinking a cup of lettuce water before bed acts as a sleep aid has reemerged. The trend first gained popularity in 2021 when a lettuce water video created by TikTok user Shapla Hoque went viral. Now, this sleep hack has made a comeback, with many users claiming that it helps them fall asleep faster.[]

Lettuce water users make their sleep aid by adding a cup of lettuce to boiling water. Some users also add ingredients like peppermint. Initial viral video creator Shapla Hoque reported falling asleep about 30 to 40 minutes after drinking her lettuce water.[] 

The theory behind this viral hack is that lactucarium, a compound found in lettuce, might contain analgesic, mild, and sedative properties. Research has found that there could be some truth to this claim. A 2017 study, for example, found that lactucarium had sedative effects on mice. However, this was not tested on humans, and the study used red romaine lettuce, not the green lettuce popular with TikTok users. The mice were also given lettuce extract that provided significantly more lactucarium than lettuce mixed with boiled water would. Additionally, tests didn’t compare sleep latency or potency between mice given lettuce and control group mice.[][]

With that in mind, it might be that lettuce water is more of a placebo than an actual sleep aid. After all, many people prepare and drink other warm beverages, such as tea, in the evenings and find that they help promote relaxation and sleep. Fortunately, unlike some viral social media health trends, drinking lettuce water is likely harmless. In fact, lettuce is high in fiber and contains vitamins A, C, and K. Lettuce can also provide folate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The amount of these nutrients that someone will get from drinking lettuce water as a sleep aid might be small, but it’s still worth noting. 

Proven sleep tips 

Lettuce water is likely harmless, but it’s also unlikely to promote sleep; however, it’s easy to see why this hack quickly gained popularity. Lettuce is relatively inexpensive and widely available, and this sleep remedy is as simple as making tea. Insomnia and difficulty falling asleep are common concerns, and many people report scrolling through social media, such as TikTok, while unable to sleep. 

It’s unsurprising that this simple solution is popular, even without evidence to back it up. Of course, for patients looking for proven sleep remedies, there are a range of other options, many of which are also simple and affordable.

People often find success with the following proven, at-home remedies:[]

  • Chamomile tea. Chamomile contains apigenin, and research has shown that it can relax the nervous system and improve sleep.[] 

  • Other herbal teas. Additional herbal teas, including lavender and valerian root tea, have been shown to aid sleep and relaxation.[][] 

  • Caffeine reduction. Often, limiting or eliminating caffeine, especially in the afternoons and evenings, is one of the simplest ways to improve sleep. 

  • Screen time reduction. Scrolling through social media for tips to help fall asleep may be common, but it’s proven counterproductive. Screen-free time before bed can be a great way to promote sleep and improve sleep quality. 

  • Increased exercise. Increasing physical activity is almost always a great way to improve one’s health; it can also promote better sleep. 

  • Relaxation time. Taking time for relaxation—whether through structured methods such as yoga, meditation, guided breathing, or activities like reading or practicing self-care—can help improve sleep.[] 

“When we look at studies, we see that things such as low-intensity exercise, relaxation, and mindfulness have a large effect on sleep and reducing insomnia, while high-intensity exercise and supplements can have a smaller effect,” says physician Yash Rusconi, MD. “It’s these simple lifestyle interventions that can often really move the needle.” 

What about melatonin?

Melatonin is a popular natural sleep aid; it’s available over-the-counter and is effective for many people. However, melatonin does have side effects. Some people report dizziness, nausea, headache, and excessive daytime sleepiness while using melatonin. Melatonin can also interact with medications such as antidepressants. It’s not recommended for adolescents or children.[] 

Melatonin can still be a good choice for some people, especially if other at-home remedies haven’t helped. Overall, the natural sleep aid is considered safe and has fewer adverse side effects than prescription sleep medications. 

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