TikTok Is Putting People to Sleep at Night — But Is It Safe?

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A meditation practice, white noise, or maybe a nice bath before bed can help wind you down for a good night’ sleep. What if watching TikTok videos could do the same?  

Scrolling on your phone before bed has become increasingly common; in fact people are now falling asleep while watching TikToks. 

TikTok user Jesus posted a video depicting himself falling asleep while the same TikTok video plays on a loop. The video has gained over one million views, with the comment section sharing their relatable experiences. (1)

“I just woke up from doing that,” one person wrote, with another saying, “But when I wake up to turn it off I can’t sleep anymore.” (1)

Falling asleep while watching a movie or television show can be normal for some people, so is watching a TikTok video any different? 

An Expert Weighs In 

Dr. Ryan Sultan, Columbia University professor and board-certified psychiatrist and therapist, told Speepoplis that because smartphones have become a part of our daily lives, making it difficult to put them down at times. 

“TikTok, with its short, engaging videos, can be particularly addictive, making it tempting to watch even before bedtime,” Sultan said. 

But, watching TikToks to fall asleep can have adverse effects on your sleep, he explains. 

Smartphones emit blue light, which can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep,” Sultan said. “This can disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep.” 

TikToks are often fast-paced content, some with bright visuals. Watching before bed can stimulate your brain, which Sultan explains makes it challenging for you to unwind and relax. 

Additionally, scrolling through the app can lead to bedtime procrastination, delaying your bedtime and cutting into valuable sleep time, he said.

The content of the videos on your “for you page” can also affect your sleep. Sultan explains that if a video is particularly emotional or disturbing, it can lead to intrusive thoughts making the transition to restful sleep more difficult. 

While TikTok can be detrimental to sleep, there are some specific situations it can be beneficial, Sultan acknowledged. 

“For example, if TikTok content is genuinely relaxing and helps an individual destress, it could serve as a way to unwind,” he said. “However, these benefits are highly individual and may not outweigh the potential drawbacks.” 

The impact TikTok can have on your sleep is highly individualized, Sultan concludes. Some people can watch one or two videos before bed and have no problems falling asleep, while others are reliant upon the app to fall asleep, maybe even waking them up in the middle of the night. 

“As with any screen time before bed, moderation and mindfulness are key,” Sultan explained. “Understanding how your sleep is affected and making adjustments accordingly is crucial to maintaining a healthy sleep routine.”

How To Stop Relying On TikTok To Fall Asleep 

You’ve noticed you’re constantly on TikTok scrolling late at night, even falling asleep on the app because you’re so tired, but you’ve become reliant on it to sleep. Sultan told Sleepopolis about the top three things that can help you to begin building healthier sleeping habits and separating your sleep from the app. 

  1. Set a time limit on TikTok

The app has its own limit that you can set in the TikTok settings, even allowing you to set a bedtime timer reminding you to shut the app and go to sleep. You can add screen limits through your phone’s general settings options. The most important thing is paying attention to these limits. 

  1. Use blue light filters on your phone 

By adding this filter you can help minimize the impact the blue light can have on your circadian rhythm. 

  1. Develop a bedtime routine that doesn’t involve any screens

Creating a calming bedtime routine can include swapping out your phone for reading, gentle stretches, or doctor-approved medication. Whatever you add to your new routine, leave the phone alone. Sultan explains relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can also help to wind you down. 

    1. @jesusarroyo372 on TikTok. TikTok. October 17. 2024. https://www.tiktok.com/@jesusarroyo372/video/7290918938915966251. 
  • Sultan, Ryan. Personal Interview. October 2024.

Julia Medina

Julia Medina

Julia is a Staff News Writer for Sleepopolis. From sleep news and education to the latest sleep trends, her goal is to keep you informed about what's going on in the world of sleep, dreams, mattresses, and more. Julia graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in communications and minors in film and sociology. In her free time she loves exploring new cities, relaxing with a good tv show, and getting some good quality sleep.

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