Will Drinking Lettuce Water Actually Help You Sleep?

Most of us enjoy lettuce as the main ingredient in our favorite green and leafy salads, and while we might think there is no other way to enjoy this versatile vegetable, TikTok users say there is a way we can consume lettuce that doesn't involve a choice of honey mustard, Caesar, or ranch dressings. Plus, it has the side benefit of helping you fall asleep.

The trend involves making "lettuce water" — the end product of boiling water and then steeping romaine lettuce leaves in that, before drinking the tea after the liquid has cooled off. The concept is so intriguing it has its own hashtag: #lettucewater. Its related videos have gathered up more than 25 million views altogether (via Today). 

TikTok users who are sharing their experiences with lettuce water say the herby-looking brew has left them feeling more than drowsy, user @thatnickguy_  didn't appear to make it to the end of the video.

Why lettuce might make you feel drowsy

The idea of using lettuce to induce drowsiness isn't something social media users who might suffer from insomnia dreamt up on the fly. Sleep expert Dr. Christopher Winter tells Health that lettuce contains lactucarium, a milky looking liquid that can make you feel drowsy because, "It has a similar structure to opium, and has some sedative properties... [so] if you get a whole bunch of lettuce and boil it down, you can make this chemical." Lactuacarium is especially abundant in wild lettuce, which has bright green leaves, which is why publications like the Pine Barrens Tribune warn against grilling the vegetable and then consuming it.

But just because salad greens have the compound doesn't mean you'd be ingesting enough of it to fall asleep with, because as Winter put it, "The amount of lactucarium you're getting from four to five lettuce leaves is unlikely to do much." Instead, he recommends making a brew with more traditional tea leaves like chamomile or valerian to enjoy as a nightcap, which could help program your body and mind to understand that bedtime is close. And if you really wanted to give it a shot, having a mug of lettuce water isn't likely to hurt either.