A solid night’s sleep is an elusive thing for many people. Which is why, unsurprisingly, many folks turn to all manner of hacks, devices and witchcraft (probably) in the hope they’ll be able to rid themselves of the bags under their eyes and finally, finally get some rest. If you’d like to add to your list of potential sleep hacks, we’ve landed on one that appears to be pretty popular.
As was reported by Refinery29, there have been a few TikTok creators in recent months who have been discussing the benefits of using an ice pack to put you to sleep.
The outlet shared that the likes of @heyfrankiesimmons, @empathary and @borcikjewelry have spoken about the benefits of the ice sleep hack, and R29 writer Elly Parsons seems to have had a positive experience with the hack, too.
So, what is it?
What’s the ice pack sleep hack?
Frankie Simmons (or @heyfrankiesimmons) explained that placing an ice pack on her chest enabled her to fall asleep in 15 minutes, rather than her usual hour-long routine.
This, she said, was because the technique cools the vagus nerve.
“The vagus nerve is one of the longest nerves in your body and it controls a lot of your parasympathetic nervous system, aka the nervous system in control of calming you down,” she said.
“So whenever we’re talking about nervous system regulation, this here is kind of the final boss…”
Simmons went on to share that cooling this nerve down “helps it release inflammation, it stimulates it, it just helps it do its job better. You can do this by taking ice-cold showers. You can do this by taking dips in ice-cold lakes,” she said.
Or, you can take an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas), wrap it in a cloth or towel and rest it on your chest for a few minutes – or until you feel settled.
Now, this is of course just a trend that appeared on TikTok and if you’re concerned about your sleep quality or trying this technique, your best move is always to reach out to a doctor. But there have been studies into the benefits of cold stimulation in reducing feelings of anxiety.
Even just splashing some cold water on your face can help. Stylist mag spoke with neuroscientist Anne-Sophie Fluri, who shared that cooling your vagus nerve helps your body to return to its original state after a bout of anxiety.
“You can do this through deep breathing exercises, meditation, singing, or – in the case of this TikTok – through cold exposure,” she said.
“Cold exposure, like icing your chest, face or taking cold showers, will activate the cholinergic neurons of the vagal pathway, releasing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which tells young lungs to breathe, and your body to chill out.”
In essence, Fluri told Stylist that using techniques to calm your vagus nerve regularly can help you manage these flare-ups more easily over time.
What about all the melty ice in the bed?
If you’re anything like our team here, one of the first questions you may be asking about this hack to help you get to sleep fast is: doesn’t the ice pack melt?
Yes, it does. But the way R29 navigated that was by placing an empty bowl by the bed and tossing the ice pack in there once the sleepiness starts to set in. You can read the full experience here.
And check out @heyfrankiesimmons’ video below:
Is this one of the stranger sleep hacks we’ve come across? Yes. But seeing as one in four Aussies are unsatisfied with their sleep habits, and on average we’re running on a 5:57 hour sleep deficit per week (data from a survey by Koala) – I’d say a few people are keen to try just about anything.
Want more tips on sleep? Here are seven habits getting in the way of your restful snooze.