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Risk Levels of TikTok’s Latest Sleep Trends Revealed by Expert

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Following the hysteria around a TikTok sleep trend called the ‘navy seal 8-minute nap’, expert Dave Gibson, at sleep wellness brand, eve Sleep, has looked further into the platform’s realm of ‘sleep hacks’. 

Looking at some of the top viewed ‘sleep hack’ videos on the platform, Dave has voiced his opinion on whether or not he thinks they will actually aid you into a slumber or not.

Military technique

With a staggering 11 million views, the military technique was supposedly formulated by the US Navy Pre-Flight School to help pilots fall asleep in 2 minutes or less. It works by relaxing every part of your body, from your facial muscles all the way down to your toes. Once your body is relaxed you need to clear your mind by thinking of a relaxing scene, or if that doesn’t work, repeating ‘don’t think’ over for 10 seconds. Within 10 seconds you should be asleep.

Dave said: ‘This technique does to a certain extent makes sense, as by relieving any tension in your body, you allow both your mind and body to relax completely, which will certainly help with falling asleep. The technique advises using visualisation which tends to be a good way of focusing the mind away from the stresses of the day. However, if this isn’t working, the next piece of advice is to repeat the term “don’t think”, which won’t work for everyone. Why? Because switching off your mind and actively trying not to think can be difficult and isn’t something one can do with ease. The idea of repeating ‘don’t think’ also seems counterproductive, as by saying it, your mind will likely do the opposite due to the pressure of trying not to do it.’

Dave added: ‘This technique would certainly take some practice and likely will not work the first time, but if you do manage to crack it, maybe don’t expect to be asleep in 10 seconds. This seems a little too optimistic to me.

‘If you do want to give this hack a try my top tip would be to adapt the technique by breathing out longer than breathing in, as it helps slow down the heart rate and relax the nervous system.’

Cognitive shuffling

Cognitive shuffling has a whopping 5.5 million views on the video sharing platform and involves laying in bed and in your head naming as many random things as you can, for example, ‘chair, bird, blanket, shoes’. The more random the better. According to the highly viewed video, this hack should have you snoozing in under 5 minutes.

Dave explained: ‘I would liken this tactic to the age old “counting sheep”. It is a mundane task that eventually tires your mind to the point it shuts off – thus you fall asleep. With this technique in particular, the action of selecting totally random words scrambles your mind, affecting its ability to fully make sense of things which should take the pressure off the need to fall asleep. Again, I do think this tactic can work, but under five minutes feels slightly optimistic. To take this technique one step further I’d recommend combining this sort of visualisation with one such as walking along a beach or in a forest and wondering what you will find. Using a memory, which you have of a relaxing place you have been to can be a great aid to this sort of mindfullness approach.’

Paradoxical intention

With around 1 million views paradoxical intention involves thinking about staying awake, essentially challenging your initial thoughts around falling asleep. As you lay your head down at night, the one thing you are probably thinking about is falling asleep, but your goal with this hack becomes staying awake.

Dave says: ‘This is a really interesting hack, and is based on some research done in the UK where those who kept their eyes open fell asleep faster than those who closed their eyes and try to get to sleep, or essentially pushing themselves to sleep when not tired enough. The essence here is that you are trying to “nod off” allowing your eyelids to close naturally rather than force them shut. Once you have managed to switch your thinking from “falling asleep” to ‘staying awake’ you will then need to allow your mind and body to relax as the pressure to fall asleep has been let go. I can see elements of this technique working, however, this technique will require some practice and may work better alongside other sleep therapy techniques as part of a multi-tactic approach.’

Dave added: ‘There is of course the risk of this hack keeping you up far later than you’d like if you’re genuinely not tired. In this case, utilising a hack that is more likely to tire your mind will work better than telling yourself to stay awake. Outside of using any sleep hack the advice is to only go into your bedroom when you feel tired enough to sleep in the first place. There’s no point in lying awake in bed.  This in fact makes it harder to sleep as your brain then associates your bed as somewhere you “stay awake” rather than “nod off”.’

The navy seal 8-minute Nap

The navy seal 8-minute nap has been doing the rounds on TikTok, with the original video hitting a huge 8.5 million views.  All it entails is laying on the floor, with your legs elevated on a bed, sofa or any other raised surface, setting your alarm for 8–10 minutes and going to sleep. According to the source, ‘you’ll wake up feeling like you’ve just slept for 6 hours’.

Dave says: ‘At first glance, this sounds like the perfect hack for those of us who are strapped for time, however, I am extremely skeptical. The idea of falling asleep quick enough to nap for 8 minutes before your alarm goes off doesn’t sound too realistic, especially as falling asleep for most, takes much longer than 8 minutes. Equally, comparing the benefits of 8 minutes of sleep versus 6 hours of night-time sleep is nonsense. Yes, some of your cognitive processes might feel sharper but the rest of the benefits of sleep such as rejuvenating your body, brain and immune system amongst others just won’t be there.

‘The elevation of the legs is an interesting twist in terms of blood return to the heart, but not one to try if you suffer from lower back pain. Also, most of those who are able to even fall asleep quickly enough to get a nap in, in under 8 minutes are most likely sleep deprived in the first place.

‘If you want to improve your blood flow and even reduce the likelihood of varicose veins, then have a crack at it, but don’t expect to get an 8-minute nap out of it.

Find more expert approved sleep tips, from ASMR to meditation practices, over on The Well Slept Club.

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