We Tried TikTok's Sweatshirt Hack To Sleep Like A Baby. Here's How It Went

When I was in my teen years, sleep was a luxury I thoroughly enjoyed. I fell asleep more easily, and I stayed that way for longer. It didn't matter if my twin sister was on the phone on the bed next to mine at midnight or my mother was (noisily) prepping rice flour for upma (a Sri Lankan Tamil porridge-like dish) in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I slept through all of it. 

As I grew older, however, things started to change. It has become harder to drift off to dreamland quickly and even more challenging to sleep through the smallest of noises, like my dog's soft snoring, for instance. All the more reason to believe what science has to say about sleep changing with age. Age can also bring with it a desire to seek out all the things one didn't realize were ruining their sleep and fix them. In my case, it was the tiniest of tiny sounds emanating from anywhere in my apartment building. Blocking out light was a quest too.

This is why the TikTok hack shared by creator @calliegaley involving a sweater appealed to me. In the post, which has amassed 2.4 million likes, Galey tells her viewers that she's been getting the best sleep of her life with the hack. The tip is to create a cocoon-like covering for your head and face using a sweatshirt and to sleep with it on. I tried it, but I couldn't keep the DIY mask on for the entire night. Let me explain. 

The DIY sweatshirt cocoon made me feel relaxed (at first)

According to Callie Galey, start by folding a sweatshirt of your choice in half with the sleeves left to hang down. Then, place it over the top half of your head, leaving your nose and mouth open. Then, lie down and use the sleeves of your sweatshirt (now directly behind your head) to wrap thick fabric around your face. This creates a sort of cocoon covering your entire face, except for your nose, mouth, and chin. "It's so comfortable. I don't know how to explain it. It works wonders," concluded Galey. 

Getting in bed and following the hack step by step felt odd. At one point, I even burst out laughing. But once I had the sweatshirt properly wrapped around my face, I felt instantly calmer. The room was darker, the sound around me reduced, and best of all, I didn't have the uncontrollable urge to reach for my phone and look at the notifications. 

Something else I noticed was that with my head covered this way, I became more aware of my breathing, which I tried to slow down. This relaxed me even further. Soon, however, a sense of panic set in about not being able to disentangle myself from the sweatshirt if the need arose. I also started to feel warm. So the sweatshirt came off quite early in the night, and I went to bed with it splayed next to me (not around my face). 

The TikTok sweatshirt sleep hack: Is it worth trying?

This sleep hack is a great way to get sleepy before bed, but it's troublesome for the entire night because of its potential to cause panic, induce dreams of being choked, and even cause actual choking, as explained by clinical psychologist and sleep medicine expert Michael Breus (via YouTube). "[This] seems like a really bad idea ... I understand what she's talking about here but there's no universe where I'm going to tell people to wrap a sweatshirt around their head and tie it around their neck." The hack can also be irritating on your skin (depending on the sweatshirt material you choose), and you can feel uncomfortably warm. 

But experts see why the hack can create a relaxing environment for some. According to board-certified physician Dr. Jessica Andrade (via Bustle), this TikTok sleep tip mimics swaddling — wrapping a baby up tightly in a blanket to make them feel safe. "Additionally, the slight pressure exerted by the sweatshirt could create a cocoon-like effect, similar to a weighted blanket, which has been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality for some people." 

But the question remains whether you can get the same relaxation from trying less risky sleep hacks, like sleep masks or even sleep crowns, a pillow you place over your head to help you block out light and noise and also add gentle pressure. And even if you did wrap a sweatshirt around your head, what happens when you roll on to your side or stomach? It could come undone or become an even bigger health hazard.