Does Lettuce Water Make You Sleepy? People on TikTok Say It's a Cure for Insomnia—Here's What Experts Think

This could be the natural remedy we're desperate for.

Struggling with insomnia can leave you desperately Googling sleep tips late at night. When you do, you might come across a trick you've never heard of before: drinking lettuce water.

That's a now-viral hack shared by Shapla Hoque on TikTok. "If you can't sleep, try this," Hoque wrote in the caption.

In the video, which has 1.4 million likes, Hoque explained that she heard that drinking lettuce water can help you feel tired. "Sis don't sleep, so imma try it out!" Hoque said and then walked through the process of making her lettuce water, which included washing about four iceberg leaves, shoving them into a coffee cup, and pouring hot water over top.

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She added peppermint tea because, she said, "I'm scared it will taste like sh*t." Hoque gave the caveat, though, that peppermint tea doesn't make her feel sleepy "so it won't do anything."

Finally, she removed the wilted lettuce leaves and took a sip. "Tastes like nothing," she said. Hoque later shared an update of herself looking a little sleepy, writing that she felt "drowsy, not hella sleepy like knockout, but I do feel sleepy."

And, in another update, you can see the top of Hoque's head and her closed eyes as she said, "Lettuce has crack because your sis is gone."

Hoque later followed up in the comments to advise against adding peppermint tea to lettuce water, noting, "apparently it actually keeps you awake, so for best results use chamomile tea or avoid adding any other tea."

People were all about lettuce water in the comments. "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," one person wrote. "Way cheaper than melatonin gummies," someone else chimed in.

Plenty of others said they plan to try out lettuce water to help them conk out at night. "I have terrible insomnia so imma try this out ASAPPP," someone said.

Hoque isn't the only person talking up the pros of lettuce water for sleep. "So I heard if you oil lettuce and drink it like a tea, you'll end up in a coma," TikTokker @neliebean wrote. (They later added, "Update: confirmed it works" in the comments.)

"So apparently lettuce water knocks your a$$ out and we be up all night over here," said @thatnickguy_. In an update, he said that he got "knocked out" and forgot to finish the video.

Given that this is TikTok advice, it's understandable to look at the idea of drinking lettuce water with a healthy level of suspicion. So…is this legit?

Yes and no, Christopher Winter, MD, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of the book, The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It, told Health. Here's the deal.

Lettuce and Sleep

A 2014 review article in the journal Current Signal Transduction Therapy explained that lettuce may have hypnotic sleep-inducing effects.

Lettuce contains something called lactucarium, which can make you feel sleepy. "It has a similar structure to opium, and has some sedative properties," Dr. Winter said.

You can actually see lactucarium if you look at the base of certain lettuces. "It's a milky substance," Dr. Winter explained. And, "if you get a whole bunch of lettuce and boil it down, you can make this chemical," Dr. Winter added.

A research article published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology in 2017 explained that lactucin, a major active compound in lactucarium, is found in higher concentrations in green romaine lettuce than in green and red lettuce varieties.

And a 2022 review published in the journal Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet found that lettuce seed may help improve sleep quality during pregnancy.

Lettuce Water and Sleep

Lettuce water doesn't always follow a consistent recipe, but the overall idea is to make a liquid with a base ingredient of lettuce. A research study published in 2021 in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that lettuce seed syrup improved sleep quality in participants who had breast cancer.

While lettuce contains lactucarium and that can make you sleepy, Dr. Winter said that you'd need to steep a "tremendous" amount of lettuce to really get the benefits. "The amount of lactucarium you're getting from four to five lettuce leaves is unlikely to do much," Dr. Winter said. But the warmth from the water itself could help make you sleepy, along with a healthy placebo effect, Dr. Winter added.

If you like the idea of trying out some kind of warm liquid for insomnia, Dr. Winter suggested using tea that contains chamomile and/or valerian. "Having a cup of tea every night about an hour before bed signals to your body that it's time to get ready for sleep," Dr. Winter explained and added. "Cues can help."

Still, if you want to give lettuce water a go, Dr. Winter said that's just fine. "There's nothing harmful about putting lettuce in your tea," Dr. Winter pointed out.

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