We Tried TikTok's 'Drunken Monkey' Movement For A Better Night's Sleep. Here's How It Went

Sleeping well and for the recommended 7-9 hours every night can be a challenge. You have to make sure you get all the stuff you want to do before bedtime completed, have dinner at a reasonable hour, give yourself enough time to digest your food, and also have a sleep hygiene routine that puts you in a state of calm relaxation after a long and hard day. 

For us, this usually means putting our devices away an hour before bedtime, reading for a few minutes, and (hopefully) drifting off to sleep in a matter of seconds. But lately, our brain has been getting in the way of doing this. Falling asleep soon, even when we're tired, wasn't really happening with racing thoughts in the quiet midnight hours as constant companions. 

So we decided to try something we found on TikTok. Shared by usamedical, this tip for better sleep was called "doing a drunken monkey." And no, we're not referring to the martial arts posture. The sleep hack is about moving your weight from side to side on your hips, rolling your shoulders, and flapping your arms about like, well, a monkey who's had one too many beers. Did it work? Not really. We ended up drifting off at roughly the same time after getting into bed — an hour later — and woke up feeling not more refreshed than on any other day. Even so, this is what the drunken monkey is all about. 

How to do the drunken monkey

The TikTok user, Jake Crossman, who is the managing partner of USA Medical (which is what the account is called on the platform), starts off the video by saying that he's tried this one hack for better sleep and it's worked for him consistently. "It's so stupid and easy but I've been sleeping for the full night the last three nights," shares Crossman.

"The whole idea is to get extra blood flow to your extremities so that you can relax easier once you're sleeping. You take a wide stance right before bed and you go back and forth with your hips," he demonstrates in the video. The hip movement is supposed to relax your hips and get blood flowing to your legs, adds the user. He then goes on to show how you incorporate a shoulder rotation and arm movement to make up the drunken monkey look. Apparently, if you do this for about a minute before you get into bed, even though you might feel it in your shoulders and hips, you're going to have quality sleep.  

We're not going to lie. Doing this wide-stance movement with our hands up in the air when the lights were dim and we were getting into a mood of rest felt awkward and unnatural but it did make us become aware of our limbs. And focusing on your body as a way to distract yourself from anxious nighttime rumination is a sleep hygiene hack recommended by experts. We also felt some of the pent-up stress in our neck and other parts of the body melt away. 

Movement before bed could improve your sleep quality

Crossman isn't completely off-base when suggesting movement of the limbs in order to get better sleep. In fact, light stretching such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong have been sleep-hack suggestions for a while now (per Sleep Foundation). The idea is that getting some movement in your body can release the tension of the day and bring your mind to a state of calm before bed. 

A 2015 review that looked at the practice of meditative movement before sleep seemed to have a similar conclusion. Low-level physical and cognitive activity seemed to also improve sleep quality in adults, per a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The same cannot be said for moderate- or high-intensity activities.

According to physical therapist Anna Ribaudo (via Hospital for Special Surgery), tensed muscles from daytime activities could be one of the things you didn't realize were ruining your sleep. "I tell my patients to compare themselves to someone running a marathon. Your day is like your marathon. It doesn't matter whether you're walking, standing, or sitting at a desk, your muscles are being tested. Stretching is a way to relax them so you can rest more comfortably," she explained. 

Just because the drunken monkey movement on TikTok didn't work for us, it doesn't mean it won't work for you. Perhaps we're just more attached to reading and meditation before bed and prefer to keep the bodily movement for earlier in the day.