This sleep-enhancing elixir is taking social media by storm. What does a nutritionist think?

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It’s hardly surprising when a ‘girl trend’ goes viral nowadays - there’s been Girl Math, Girl Dinner, and Strawberry Girl Makeup to name a few. But, the latest TikTok fad for helping you catch some much-needed zzzs might actually have some decent science behind it, according to nutritionist Kim Pearson.

Dubbed The Sleepy Girl Mocktail, the recipe combines tart cherry juice (we've written about cherry juice for insomnia before), magnesium powder (ditto the best magnesium supplements for sleep) and prebiotic soda or sparkling water. People are raving about its sleep-inducing properties - in fact, the hashtag #sleepygirlmocktail has just shy of 64m views on TikTok.

The general consensus: the soft drink can help you relax before bed, and lead to a restful, longer night’s sleep. The added bonus: it looks and tastes nice too.

But, how much of the trend is a placebo-effect brought on by group encouragement? And, is there any nutritional science behind the social media hype?

Image: Nutritionist Kim Pearson

Why is Sleepy Girl Mocktail trending?

You only need to take one look at the statement pink drink to see why it’s become cat-nip for social media content. In the first video featuring the recipe, posted in March 2023, TikTok user Gracie Norton (who doesn’t seem to be a nutritionist) is seen serving the aesthetically-pleasing drink over ice.  Fancy cocktail glasses, garnishes and eco-friendly straws that wouldn’t look out of place at your favourite bar abound in the slew of videos that followed it.

@gracie_norton the only time i struggle with sleep is right at the end of my luteal phase! This is working WONDERS!! 💛 (not something im planning on drinking every single night, just near the end of my luteal phase! #healthyhabits #mocktails #bettersleep #sleep ♬ The Lazy Song - Galuh

Can you trust the science?

Never mind the aesthetics, do the drink's ingredients actually measure up to their promised sleep-inducing qualities?

“The Sleepy Girl Mocktail is one TikTok trend I can get on board with," says Kim Pearson. "Both magnesium and tart cherry juice can promote restful sleep so this simple to make recipe could be helpful for those who struggle with poor sleep.” (Read about how our beauty editors tackle insomnia.)

That certainly sounds promising.

More specifically, “tart cherries (also known as Montmorency cherries) can support sleep due to their melatonin content, a hormone that plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Studies suggest that tart cherry juice consumption can alleviate insomnia and enhance sleep quality.”

The inclusion of magnesium gets a big thumbs-up too: “Its calming effects on the nervous system can help people relax and drop off to sleep,” says Pearson. “This essential mineral has the ability to impact the calming neurotransmitter GABA, helping to reduce brain activity in preparation for sleep. Deficiencies in magnesium have been associated with insomnia, so supplementing with magnesium can be beneficial in improving sleep quality.”

What you need to consider

But, as always with these things, there is a but…

Experts agree that there are many factors leading to a good night’s sleep, so a simple elixir like this one (however picture-perfect) should not be considered a miracle cure, especially for bad insomnia.

There have also been some reports that boosting melatonin can lead to extremely vivid dreams - some triggering anxiety - so it is always best to consider supplementation (and that's exactly what this is, despite the fun 'mocktail' branding) under the watchful eyes of an expert, even more so if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The exact ingredients you use are important too. Fizzy drinks can leave some people feeling bloated and uncomfortable - which is hardly a recipe for a restful slumber - and there are different types of magnesium too, some of which can cause a rather unpleasant laxative effect. 

To avoid this, Pearson suggests trying a flat water instead, and always using magnesium glycinate powder, which is more gentle on the stomach. In her recipe below, she actually combines a single scoop of powder with a flat magnesium-infused water to achieve magnesium's standard recommended dose of 400mg for maximum sleepiness. 

You should also be generally wary about blindly following any nutrition advice on social media. So, if you want more insight into using magnesium for better sleep, check out this dietician-led video below:

@simplyhealthyrd Why the sleepy girl mocktail is actually benefitting you from a dietitian - plus how to choose a magnesium that won’t make you 💩 your pants 😂 #sleepygirlmocktail #tartcherryjuice #drinkpoppi #magnesium #magnesiumbenefits #magnesiumglycinate #dietitian #dietitiansoftiktok #mocktails ♬ original sound - Taylor Grasso, RD

The Sleepy Girl Mocktail recipe that Kim recommends:

1) One can of BetterYou Hydrate Magnesium Water

2) One serving Cherry Active tart cherry juice

3) One serving of Seeking Health magnesium glycinate (or two servings if you are using normal water)

Serve chilled over ice in your favourite cocktail glass before bed.