Researchers find the majority of top sleep tips circulating on TikTok actually hold up to scientific scrutiny.

Summary: A new study analyzed popular sleep tips shared on TikTok and found that the majority are supported by scientific evidence. Out of 35 unique sleep tips examined across viral videos, 29 were backed by empirical research, while only six lacked scientific support.

Key Takeaways:

  • TikTok sleep advice is largely accurate, suggesting sleep experts have effectively promoted evidence-based sleep hygiene tips on social media.
  • The study affirms that many adults rely on social media as a source of health information, underscoring the importance of content creators providing medically sound guidance.
  • While health advice on TikTok is unregulated, the research indicates sleep recommendations are an area where content creators are aligning with established scientific findings.

Most sleep tips shared on TikTok are supported by empirical evidence, according to a new study.

The research findings, to be presented at the SLEEP 2024 annual meeting, show that of 35 unique sleep tips shared in popular videos, there was empirical support for 29. Only six sleep tips were unsupported by scientific evidence.

“These results suggest that the sleep research and sleep medicine communities have done a good job of promoting appropriate tips for sleep hygiene,” says lead author Brian T. Gillis, PhD, who has studied sleep for eight years and is an assistant professor of marriage and family therapy in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, in a release. “This means the public is learning what we want them to know about sleep in a place—social media—where many people feel comfortable learning health information.”

Over a two-day period, the researchers transcribed the most-viewed TikTok videos that used the tags #sleephacks, #sleephygiene, or #sleeptips, then coded them to identify all sleep tips, ultimately collecting a total of 295 sleep tips (including repeated recommendations) across 58 videos. 

Tips were categorized into seven themes and compared to findings from randomized control trials, nonrandomized control trials, and studies of correlational associations in peer-reviewed articles. Evidence supporting sleep tips included shorter time to fall asleep, longer sleep duration, increased deep sleep or REM sleep, higher sleep satisfaction, or reduced daytime sleepiness.

Social Media’s Influence on Health Information

Gillis notes that many adults view social media as a source of health information, and many do not verify the accuracy of the information with a health care professional.

“Given this trust in health advice shared on social media, it’s essential for content creators to provide medically sound guidance,” Gillis says in a release. “Health advice on TikTok is unregulated, but our research indicates that sleep recommendations seem to be an area where content creators are getting it right.”

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