TikTok is great for lots of things: delicious recipe inspiration, style advice, cat videos and, of course, fitness challenges. From dance routines to viral workout videos, wellness trends regularly circulate TikTok. And while most are just harmless crazes (clearly meant to be taken with a pinch of salt), others - like brain tapping for sleep - genuinely make us stop and wonder whether they could improve our quality of life.
Brain tapping for sleep is the latest wellness trend in question piquing our interest, with over a million views and counting. Otherwise known as EFT tapping, short for Emotional Freedom Technique, it's quickly becoming TikTok's most popular sleeping trend, with thousands of TikTok users trying it out for themselves.
So, what is it? Basically, brain tapping is a methodic tapping technique designed to help you feel relaxed and clear your mind.
Since the quest for a good night's sleep has become the ultimate status symbol of health and wellness – with many of us buying sleep masks and pillow sprays, tracking our sleep data on apps and fitness watches and quietly obsessing over what makes the "perfect night-time routine" – is it any wonder that we're willing to try, well, anything (yes, even a TikTok trend) in order to get a better nights kip?
Keep scrolling as an expert shares their take on the trend, and don't miss our guides to sound therapy, hypnotherapy and NSDR - all of which promise to boost your sleep quality, too - while you're here.
Brain tapping promises for sleep is trending - here's how it works
What is brain tapping?
Described as being similar to acupuncture, brain tapping (or EFT tapping) is a technique that focuses on your meridian or pressure points to help relax, restore and relieve symptoms. "Brain tapping is a recently recognised technique which combines cognitive behavioural therapy with somatic stimulation using acupuncture pressure points," explains Dr Daisy Mae, a sleep expert working with Get Laid Beds. "It utilises some of the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and kinesiology."
While brain tapping can be performed in a number of different ways, Dr Mae says you tap between seven and nine times on three areas of the face - "around the eyes, below the nose and below the lips". You also tap on "the collarbone and under the arm and on the top of the head, while making a statement out loud about what is distressing you and how bad this is on a scale of one to ten."
On TikTok, most users seem to be promoting this same technique, sometimes tapping the side of the hand, before moving to the top of the head.
"It's a very useful technique as it can be undertaken at home, is safe, inexpensive and has quick results," adds Dr Mae. "Brain tapping may improve both psychological and physiological functions."
How does brain tapping work?
Brain tapping advocates claim that tapping the body's meridian points sends signals to the part of the brain that controls stress. As TikTok user Dr Kerstin says in her video: "The mirror neurons in your brain respond to seeing [you] tap – this can start calming you and take the emotional edge off."
"The underlying principle is that the brain has the ability to train or synchronise its electrical activity to external stimuli. By exposing the brain to rhythmic auditory or visual patterns, brain tapping seeks to influence the brainwaves and induce desired mental states," explains Dr Becky Spelman, counselling psychologist and founder of Private Therapy Clinic .
Who's a fan of brain tapping?
The biggest fan of brain tapping is arguably Fouad Boustani, founder of MentallyGreat, whose TikTok video on brain tapping has over six million views. In the video, he says you can “trick your brain to fall asleep faster” using the brain-tapping technique. “Our brain loves connecting with rhythmic patterns, so if you create a fast pattern, then slow it down, it slows your brain activity, which facilitates sleep,” he claims.
Benefits of brain tapping
"EFT techniques are effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD and chronic pain – all of which have a negative impact on sleep," says Dr Mae. "EFT has been shown to alter brain wave patterns and lower cortisol levels. Hence, it appears to alter the hypothalamic-pituitary (HPA) axis and modify the stress reaction. In some studies, EFT not only improved depression scores but also improved sleep quality."
Dr Spelman says that advocates of brain tapping suggest that it can offer various benefits, including "stress reduction, improved concentration, enhanced creativity, and better sleep. However, while some studies support these claims, the research is still in its early stages, and more robust scientific investigation is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of brain tapping."
- Can help anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD and chronic pain
- Can improve sleep quality
- Can lower cortisol levels.
- Can reduce stress
- Can improve concentration
- Can enhance creativity.
How to brain tap from home - a step-by-step guide
The EFT tapping sequence is the methodic tapping on the ends of nine meridian points.
- Start by tapping the side of your hand
- Then move to tap the top of your head
- From there, tap your eyebrows
- Then tap the side of the eye
- After that, tap under the eye
- Then tap under the nose
- Move down to tap your chin
- Then tap at the beginning of the collarbone
- Lastly, tap under the arm. And enjoy.
Does EFT tapping help with sleep?
Perhaps – like us – you are highly sceptical that brain tapping can actually help sleep, but, as Dr Mae points out, there is some scientific evidence to support it. "In 2013, the journal Psychology published a review of the medical evidence about a group of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFTs), which included brain tapping.
“This included 23 randomised controlled trials and 17 personal studies. The authors stated that EFT techniques are effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD and chronic pain – all of which have a negative impact on sleep. EFT has been shown to alter brain wave patterns and lower cortisol levels.
"Hence, it appears to alter the hypothalamic-pituitary (HPA) axis and modify the stress reaction. In some studies, EFT not only improved depression scores but also improved sleep quality.”
Of course, while there are some success stories, research in this area, as Dr Spelman points out, is limited. "Advocates of brain tapping suggest that it can offer various benefits, including stress reduction, improved concentration, enhanced creativity, and better sleep. However, while some studies support these claims, the research is still in its early stages, and more robust scientific investigation is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of brain tapping."
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