Does putting an ice pack between your boobs really help you sleep?

There are plenty of sleep hacks on TikTok that promise an easier way to drift off if you struggle to get a good night’s rest.

It’s always worth looking deeper intro viral health tricks, however – to make sure they’re legit.

One sleep trick that’s doing the rounds right now is putting an ice pack between your breasts for up to 15 minutes. But is there any truth in it?

Alan Mendell, aka the Motivational Doc, said on TikTok: ‘Putting something cold on the upper torso will help activate the vagus nerve.

‘This helps calm you down, so take an ice pack and put it on your chest.

‘This will destress your body and send you off to sleep.’

He also advised wrapping the ice pack in a cloth, to avoid freeze burns.

In the comments, there were mixed reactions about how effective this is.

One person said: ‘This helps my panic attacks and hot flashes 100%’

Another wrote: ‘I just started doing this in the last week and it works.’

But another said they tried three nights in a row without success.

Ice Between the Breasts Puts You to SLEEP! drmandell youtube sleep stress viral fyp

Dr Amina Ahmed, an NHS GP, says you should try this hack with caution because overstimulating this nerve can come with health risks – which is probably why Alan says to wrap the ice pack in a cloth.

‘There are two systems at play in the body,’ Dr Ahmed explains.

‘The sympathetic nervous system, when the body is in a stressful situation and the parasympathetic system, when the body is in a situation where it can relax.

‘Over stimulation of either of these can make you unwell.

‘When the parasympathetic system is overstimulated (by the vagus nerve), this drops the heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.

‘This can lead to a person collapsing (vasovagal syncope) – which is a reason for countless admissions to hospital in my time as a medical admitting doctor.’

Sometimes she is required to stimulate the vagus nerve as a doctor in order to calm a fast heart rate, but she doesn’t use ice to do this.

She says: ‘We use massage on a certain part of the neck, and we can see the response on our cardiac monitors as we do this because the heart rate drops down.

‘This is not safe for everyone, and so only a doctor should administer it.

‘At medical school, we learned that in an emergency, when nothing else is available, to plunge the face in ice water because the sudden breath hold and cold would stimulate the diving response.

‘We never really use ice on the chest as first line. This recreates the impression that your body is becoming hypothermia, and so the parasympathetic system will slow down the heart and breathing.

‘You have to be careful not to let the body actually become cold (and wet).

‘Overstimulation of the vagus nerve can put an unhealthy strain on your heart. I would advise against it if you have low blood pressure, a low heart rate, coronary heart disease, a congenital heart defect, or other heart conditions.’

Instead, she suggests singing or humming which can create a similar response in the body without risks.

Though if your reason for being unable to sleep is unrelated to stress and anxiety, stimulating this nerve might not have such a great effect.

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