Self

Try This Viral TikTok Hack To Ease Anxiety & Fall Asleep In 20 Minutes

Photo: SB Arts Media / Shutterstock
woman icing her chest

Do you wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety and can't seem to fall back asleep? Luckily, there's a hack for that.

It's called the ice hack, and TikTok has done its job of spreading this magical trick that not only alleviates anxiety, but helps you fall asleep in 20 minutes. Even AOC has used the method to de-stress.

The ice hack stimulates the vagus nerve, which helps the body calm down to let you fall asleep. 

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What is vagus nerve icing?

Vagus nerve icing is a popularized trend where people dunk their faces in ice water, or place ice on their chest or face, as a way to ease their anxiety.

A TikTok made by user Frankie Simmons explains how to stimulate your vagus nerve to help your anxiety and has gained over 701,000 likes so far. In the video, Simmons explains what the vagus nerve is, and how it is connected to calming your body and alleviating anxiety in order to help you sleep. 

Simmons begins by saying that a couple of years ago, it was a regular occurrence for her to wake up at 4 a.m. with anxiety all the time.

   

   

"I'd have to pull myself out of bed and do all this deep breathing, energy work and tea drinking to go back to sleep," she says, "but all that changed the day I found out about icing your vagus nerve."

Simmons goes on to explain that there are several ways in which to do the ice hack to make your vagus nerve cold. You can do many methods to cool your vagus nerve, but most of them require you to use the cold technique for about 15 minutes.

What is the science behind vagus nerve icing?

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in our body. It's the main nerve that is a part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of relaxing your body after periods of stress or danger.

Essentially, it's the nervous system in charge of calming you down. The nerve is a direct line from your brain to several parts of your body, making it the best messenger.

But does icing this nerve truly work? Yes — and many psychologists agree.

The point of icing the nerve is to trick your mind and body. It's basically a big distraction from whatever was causing your anxiety or stress.

Your body is now focused on the cold running through you instead of your anxiety trigger. Blood then flows from nonessential organs to essential parts of your body and calms your heart rate.

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In simple terms, it's like a hard reset for your body.

In Simmons' video, she explains, "Applying cold to our vagus nerve helps it release inflammation, it helps stimulate it, it just helps it do its job better." 

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Here's how to stimulate your vagus nerve and fall asleep quickly.

1. Take ice-cold showers.

Taking an ice-cold shower isn't always fun, but it is a great way to stimulate your vagus nerve. Start taking showers at night right before heading to bed to help you sleep better.

2. Go swimming in ice-cold lakes.

If you are lucky enough to live by a lake, try going for a dip at night before heading to bed. Be sure to dunk your head under the water to get the full effects.

3. Use an ice pack.

The technique Simmons uses is to put an ice pack on the center of her chest.

For this technique, grab an ice pack and wrap it in a towel. Place the ice pack on your chest and lay down for about 15 minutes. 

"Watch TikToks, do whatever you were going to do anyway, and it is a game changer," Simmons advises.

You can also do this technique with a cold compress or even a bag of frozen vegetables.

4. Dip your face in water.

The method AOC used involved dunking her face into a bowl of freezing cold water. Though, you don't need to keep your head underwater for a long time; that wouldn't be good for anyone. 

You can also dunk your face in the water multiple times, keeping your face in the water for as long as you can each time. Do this as many times as you feel necessary.

5. Hum, sing, or listen to music.

For those who wish to not be drenched in cold water, try singing or humming. Your vagus nerve is connected to your vocal chords and passes through your ear canals. 

The sounds and vibrations from singing, humming, or listening to calm music can stimulate your vagus nerve. This method will take longer, but you'll avoid being cold in the end!

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Deauna Nunes is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for more.

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