It’s not hard to understand the appeal of the “sleepy girl mocktail” that’s all over TikTok. Influencers promise that this simple mix of seltzer, tart cherry juice, and magnesium powder is all you need to get a good night’s sleep.
“This is the little mocktail I make when I want to have the best sleep of my life,” one TikToker says in a video with 4.3 million views.
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While there may be some kernels of truth behind influencers’ claims that the ingredients in this mocktail promote sleep, there’s no solid scientific proof that this beverage makes sleep problems a thing of the past, says Jose Ordovas, PhD, a senior scientist and professor at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
“It’s not strictly junk science,” Dr. Ordovas says. “There is some weak scientific basis for the ingredients individually potentially aiding sleep, but there is no direct scientific evidence to support the combined effects of these ingredients as presented in the sleepy girl mocktail.”
Are the Ingredients in a Sleepy Girl Mocktail a Recipe for Sleep?
Magnesium plays a role in several bodily functions related to sleep, including the regulation of neurotransmitters — chemical messengers in the brain — that play a role in managing the body’s biological clock and tell us when to sleep and when to wake up, Ordovas says. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to sleep problems and insomnia, and these conditions can sometimes be improved with magnesium supplements, Ordovas adds.
Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, a compound the brain makes in response to darkness that is known to promote sleep, Ordovas says. Cherries also contain anthocyanins and tryptophan, compounds that can aid melatonin production in the brain.
And, even though there’s no specific thing in seltzer that directly aids sleep, hydration plays a key role in sleep, Ordovas notes. Dehydration can reduce melatonin production in the brain and disrupt your biological clock.
Better Than a Cocktail?
Even though each of the ingredients in the sleepy girl mocktail have some connection to sleep, the amount of water, magnesium, and cherry juice in a single beverage still may not be enough to make a difference, says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, an associate professor of nutritional medicine and the director of the Center of Excellence for Sleep and Circadian Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.
“But if the mocktail replaces a cocktail, that could contribute to better sleep,” Dr. St-Onge says.
There may be benefits to incorporating a mocktail like this, without any alcohol or caffeine, into your nightly bedtime routine. That’s because the ritual of consuming a beverage before bed every night might play a role in helping you sleep, Ordovas says. This mocktail can be part of what’s known as good sleep hygiene, or habits that make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
“The ritual signals to the body that it’s time to wind down, which can help ease the transition into sleep,” Ordovas says. “This psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the placebo effect, where the belief that a certain routine will aid in sleep can make it more likely to do so, plays a significant role in sleep hygiene.”
Foods and Drinks That Do Promote Sleep
There are several things you can eat and drink that may improve your bedtime game. According to Ordovas, these include:
- Warm milk An old remedy that may have a soothing psychological effect, possibly because of the association with warmth and comfort from childhood.
- Herbal teas Noncaffeinated herbal teas like chamomile, valerian root, or lavender are traditionally used to promote calmness and sleepiness.
- Almonds and walnuts These nuts contain magnesium and melatonin, which have been associated with improved sleep patterns.
- Bananas They are rich in potassium and magnesium, which can relax muscles and nerves.
- Kiwi Consuming kiwi before bed may improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency because of its antioxidant properties and serotonin content.
- Fatty fish Fish like salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which have been linked to enhanced sleep quality.
Foods and Drinks That May Interfere With Sleep
Beyond adding certain things to your diet to improve sleep, you should consider limiting or avoiding foods and beverages that contribute to sleep problems. According to Ordovas, these are some things to avoid, especially before bed.
- Caffeine Found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks, it should be avoided for four to six hours before bedtime, as it can keep you awake.
- Alcohol While it might help you fall asleep, it typically reduces sleep quality and can cause wakefulness later in the night.
- Heavy meals Large or rich meals late in the evening can lead to discomfort and indigestion, which can interfere with sleep.
- Spicy foods Can cause heartburn and indigestion, which are not conducive to good sleep.
- Sugary foods and simple carbohydrates May lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, potentially causing wakefulness.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Focusing on what you eat and drink is just one way to promote good sleep hygiene, Ordovas says. Routine is key, whether or not it includes a sleepy girl mocktail. Some things Ordovas recommends include:
- Regular sleep schedule Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Sleep environment A quiet, dark, and cool environment can promote sound sleep. Consider using earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to block out disturbing sounds.
- Limited screen time Exposure to the blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with melatonin production. It’s advisable to reduce screen time at least an hour before bed.
- Physical activity Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep, though it’s best not to exercise too close to bedtime.
- Stress management Stress is a common cause of sleep problems. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can ease stress and help you get to sleep.
- Avoid naps If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Pre-sleep routine Perform the same rituals each night before bed to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you try a sleepy girl mocktail every night before bed, you should practice good sleep hygiene and think of sleep as one of three key pillars of good health, along with eating well and getting enough exercise, St-Onge says.
“All three reinforce one another,” St-Onge says. “What you eat during the day impacts your sleep, which influences your ability to choose a healthful diet and perform physical activity; and whether you exercise during the day influences your ability to fall asleep and get restful sleep, which impacts your food choices and activity the next day.”