TikToker Claims Putting Vicks Rub On Her Nose Helps Her Sleep — But What Do the Doctors Say?

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Vicks Vapor Rub is frequently used to alleviate aches and discomforts, or to soothe the neck and chest when you are coming down with something. Nevertheless, a TikTok user has stumbled upon an unconventional and somewhat peculiar application for the rub we were not expecting. 

Ready for it? TikTok user @spicyprisha claimed in a recent video that she is able to fall asleep literally instantly at night by putting Vicks cream up her nose. (1

She mentioned that her role as a student leads to varying sleep and wake times due to her daily schedule fluctuations. As a result, she must adjust her bedtime either earlier or later based on the upcoming morning’s requirements.

As a result of this situation, there are instances when she must force herself to go to bed ahead of schedule, even if she isn’t feeling tired. This is where the Vicks comes into play.

The steps to this sleep hack seem pretty simple, but when she describes the routine, we already notice ourselves clenching our noses just thinking about the burning sensation. 

Initially, she takes hold of her Vicks vapor rub and suggests that it should mark the final pre-sleep step. Your phone should be charging and your lip balm applied. The sole focus should be on the rub. 

You first want to put the rub on your chest, neck and behind your neck. And she said not to be stingy with the amount. You want to make sure to grab a “glob” of it. The routine concludes with her inserting some of the rub into her nostrils, allowing her to enjoy its scent as she drifts off to sleep.

“And I don’t know what it is,” she said in the TikTok. “It sends some signal to your brain.” 

She said that as soon as she smells it, her body is immediately ready for bedtime. No matter what time it is, whether it’s 3 a.m. or 9 p.m., she claims her body automatically knows when to fall asleep. 

Even though we are a little concerned about this hack, the users in the comments did not hesitate and claimed they would undoubtedly give her method a shot.

One user said, “Praying this works bc my sleep schedule is fkdd.” Another said, “Gonna try this tonight! Body is too adjusted to sleeping at 3am.” 

Before we add this Vicks hack to our sleep routine we wanted to better understand the science behind it and if this is truly a new magic potion for better sleep. We also wanted to know if it’s safe to put this potent substance (almost) up our nose. I guess it’s time to find out! 

A Doctor’s Take

Maybe it’s time to tell @spicyprisha that this method could potentially lead to some risks, specifically a condition that might be hard to treat. 

We spoke with Dr. June Seliber-Klein, MD, DABPN, Chief Medical Officer at Ognomy Inc. and she said the initial step in massaging a lotion or ointment onto the back and neck is to trigger the vagus nerve, leading to an elevation in the parasympathetic response.

“Parasympathetic activity counters sympathetic activity, which is linked to heightened heart rate, anxiety, and insomnia,” she told Sleeopolis. “Therefore, anything that triggers parasympathetic activity could potentially assist with sleep onset.” 

She said putting Vicks on one’s nose helps them fall asleep faster. It helps one breath better by clearing their nostrils. This continuous breathing is soothing allowing one to become more relaxed and fall asleep easier. 

“Individuals are using mentholated petroleum jelly in their nostrils to alleviate nasal congestion and enable easier breathing through the nose,” she said. “Breathing effortlessly and clearly through the nose is conducive to falling asleep quickly.” 

Even though this seems to be like the ideal sleep hack for this TikToker, Klein suggests you avoid doing this. Since Vicks rub is made from petroleum jelly, using Vicks rub carries the potential danger of inhaling the oily substance into your lungs.

This could potentially result in a condition known as liquid pneumonia, which poses significant treatment difficulties. Additionally, the presence of menthol in the product raises concerns, as it has the potential to irritate the nasal mucosa.

So, for now, let’s keep the Vicks for when we are truly struggling to breath at night from a cold or flu and not make it a nightly habit. 

  • Seliber-Klein, June. Personal Interview. August 8, 2024.

  • 1. Spicyprisha on TikTok. TikTok. August 4, 2024. Accessed August 8, 2024. https://www.tiktok.com/@spicyprisha/video/7263349196852382994?_r=1&_t=8efRZw1BE0w.

Ava Girardi

Ava Girardi

Ava Girardi is an Editorial News Intern for Sleepopolis. She loves writing about all things sleep from viral bedtime routines on TikTok to studies on sleep quality that will help you get the most helpful information to achieve that perfect bedtime routine. Ava is currently studying at Elon University where she is a double major in journalism and media analytics. When she is not writing, Ava is spending time with friends or family, running, or trying new yummy foods.

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