Is it true that a cup of lettuce water can help put you to sleep?
If you trust TikTok, yes. But if you value expert opinion, it’s a big no!
The latest TikTok hack to go viral involves an insomniac (AKA TikTok user Shapla_11), lettuce leaves and boiling water.
“So apparently drinking lettuce water makes you sleepy,” the video begins.
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In the quick video Shapla_11, proceeds to make the lettuce water concoction, sips it and then admits to feeling drowsy — “Not hella sleepy, like knockout, but I do feel drowsy,” she notes — only to return with an update touting the powers of the sleepy drink.
Naturally, the video racked up praise with 1.2 million likes (and counting) and thousands of comments. But if you ask a doctor — and we did — when it comes to treating insomnia, there’s nothing special about lettuce leaves.
“If there was, you’d fall asleep every time you ate a salad,” says Dr Brad McKay.
“If you sincerely believe boiled lettuce juice will help you fall asleep then it might have a chance of working, but any effect will come from the power of placebo and the influence of your own mind — not from the lettuce.”
In this viral hack’s defense lettuce does contain lactucarium — that milky fluid that usually secretes from the stems of several types of lettuce — also called ‘lettuce opium’ and was used by the ancient Egyptians for its putative “sedative and analgesic properties“. However, Dr Brad admits the amount of lactucarium you’d actually ingest from boiling a few leaves would be miniscule.
“You’d need to consume a whole field of lettuce in order to get enough lactucarium to match the amounts used in research,” he continues.
“But even a massive amount of lettuce may not do anything for your sleep — the main studies that support this theory have been conducted in mice, heavily sedated mice, and the mice who didn’t fall asleep were excluded from the study.”
So, if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, Dr Brad recommends chatting to your GP about your sleep hygiene, instead of sipping lettuce soup before bed.