Lettuce has been making waves on the internet recently for its supposed link to providing good quality sleep. In particular, lettuce water is being hailed as inducing sleepiness for those who drink it. Creators on TikTok have gone viral for their videos on drinking warm lettuce water before bed, citing the drink as a miracle cure for insomnia.
TikTok user shapla_11, who suffers from insomnia, received over a million likes for her glowing review. She added the lettuce to a mug of boiling water, with a peppermint teabag for flavour. She let the tea brew for 10 minutes. Hours later, Shapla remarks that she is completely “gone” in terms of sleepiness.
For Shapla, the lettuce drink was a complete success that managed to override her usual difficulty to sleep. In a follow-up video, she stated it took around 30-40 minutes to fall asleep after drinking. Her only regret is using peppermint tea, which can cause some people to stay awake for longer. Shapla noted that the lettuce water had no taste, as she feared previously that it would taste bad.
What made people on the internet reach for the leafy substance for sleep? The answer may come from our ancestors. Ancient civilisations, from Greece to Egypt to Rome, cited lettuce as a source of bodily relaxation, for stomach pain and sleep. Even the founding philosopher of modern medical practice, Galen, hailed lettuce as a source of sound sleep. It is possible many people believe this because of long-lasting cultural beliefs.
There is also science that backs up this idea. Lettuce plants contain a fluid called lactucarium. It is a milky substance that is found at the base of the plant. It is known to cause a sedative effect and help reduce pain. This puts the body in an ideal mood for sleep.
So, Does It Work?
The short answer is that we don’t know for certain. We do know, however, that your diet can change your sleep, and certain foods and drinks you consume will have an effect on melatonin levels that help you fall asleep. We are not sure how effective lettuce is in curing insomnia and bring sleep faster because not enough research has been done on the subject.
What research has been done, however, is positive. A study of lettuce and sleep levels on rodents has found that it improved sleep duration. This is promising news for anyone who finds themselves waking up in the middle of the night due to sleep conditions such as insomnia.
Dr. Christopher Winter, a sleep expert, is unsure if a mugful of lettuce contains enough lactucarium to induce sleep. Winter, however, states that “cues can help”, when it comes to establishing a sleep routine. This is a placebo effect – where a brain’s belief in medicinal powers can create the desired effects. Whether or not lettuce works for certain, this cure going viral highlights the importance of keeping a good sleep routine. Having regular pre-bedtime rituals, such as a hot drink before bed, can help prompt the brain to get into sleep mode and reverse the effects of conditions such as insomnia.