I tried TikTok’s viral sweater sleep hack — here’s what happened

A woman sleep on her side with a black Sleep Crown pillow placed over her eyes
(Image credit: Sleep Crown)

TikTok is known for sleep hacks, all promising to help us fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night long. Whether it’s the Sleep Crown pillow, Sleepy Girl Mocktail or the Sweater Sleep Hack, there’s always something in the wings that we may just solve whatever sleep ailment we have. 

In reality, the best way to improve your sleep quality is to treat your sleep like a puzzle, and each piece —  like exercise, good sleep hygiene and ensuring that you’re sleeping on the best mattress for your sleep needs — all make up the larger picture that is our overall sleep quality. 

That said, as a sleep writer I’m always intrigued by a seemingly quick-fix solution to poor sleep. And apparently you are, too. When the term ‘Sleep Crown pillow’ started gaining traction online — which is a weighted pillow designed to be placed over the eyes in order to assist in a better night’s sleep — TikTok produced its own DIY version. 

The now-viral Sweater Sleep Hack can apparently provide the same benefits of the Sleep Crown pillow, but without any of the cost. To coincide with Sleep Awareness Week 2024 I decided to give it a go — here’s what it did for my sleep. 

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What is the Sleep Crown pillow? 

Before we get into what happened when I essentially tied a sweater around my head before bed, let’s look at what I was trying to achieve. The Sleep Crown is an over-the-head pillow that you place over your eyes, much like a weighted eye mask. The Sleep Crown pillow costs $194 and is so popular that it's often out of stock. 

While lots of us like to sleep with something placed over our heads or eyes, the Sleep Crown pillow is smaller and more flexible than a regular pillow, allowing space to breathe freely while also reducing ambient lights and sound. The benefits to your sleep are apparently:

  • Light blocking 
  • Sound blocking 
  • Stress and anxiety relief 
  • Shorten REM latency 

The Sleep Crown is designed to minimize ambient sights and sounds, helping you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Like the best weighted blankets, the Sleep Crown pillow also provides stress and anxiety relieving benefits while applying gentle pressure. 

Although there’s a limit to how much deep sleep we need, the Sleep Crown pillow can apparently also shorten REM latency, which means you can achieve deeper sleep, faster. 

What is the viral TikTok Sweater Sleep Hack?  

In contrast, the Sweater Sleep Hack that’s gone viral on TikTok is a DIY version of the Sleep Crown pillow, during which you essentially place the sweater over your eyes and tie the sleeves around your chin. 

“I’ve been getting the best sleep of my life for four nights now, I’m going to show you how I’ve hacked the system,” says Callie Galey in a viral clip that has now been viewed 2.4 million times. 

@calliegaley

♬ original sound - CALLIE GALEY

How to do the Sweater Sleep Hack 

Step 1. Fold a sweater in half: Fold a sweater in half lengthways and place it over the top half of your head, leaving your nose and mouth exposed to allow you to breath freely. 

Step 2. Lay back onto your pillow: Assume your chosen sleep position and tuck the sweater behind your head, ensuring that it's covering your ears.

Step 3. Wrap the sweater sleeves under your chin: Take each sleeve and wrap them in opposite directions under your chin. Depending how large your sweater is, you may be able to tie the together at the top of your head, securing the sweater in place. 

I tried the Sweater Sleep Hack — here's what happened

1. I didn't fall asleep faster 

Not only did I not fall asleep faster, I also wasted time when I could have been sleeping trying to find a suitable sweater. I felt like the Goldilocks of the Sweater Sleep Hack, trying to find one that was large enough, didn't have a hood, and one that also wasn't so thick I would overheat. 

The first thing to say about the Sweater Sleep Hack is that it's only really comfortable if you sleep on your back, due to all the tucks and folds of the material. I'm not a back sleeper so it didn't feel natural trying to fall asleep on my back, but sleeping on my side didn't feel comfortable either. 

2. I didn't stay asleep longer 

Waking for a bathroom break in the middle of the night was followed by a brief moment of panic, before I remembered that I wasn't being buried alive by my laundry and that I had intentionally wrapped myself in my own sweater. 

A woman lays in bed with a white Sleep Crown pillow placed over her eyes

(Image credit: Sleep Crown)

That said, I did appreciate the reduction in ambient light and sound and felt that if the sweater was more comfortable, it could have helped me fall asleep faster.

3. I didn't feel less anxious

One of the cited benefits of the Sleepy Crown pillow is the weight of the pillow, which works to soothe and calm by applying gentle pressure. Unsurprisingly, wrapping a sweater around your head just doesn't provide the same level of soothing stress relief. If anything, I felt more anxious with a jumper on my head. 

Sleep Crown pillow vs Sweater Sleep Hack — the verdict

While I do question how safe it is to sleep with a weighted pillow (definitely do not place a weighted pillow on a child or anyone without the capacity to move it from their airways), I do see the appeal of the Sleep Crown pillow.  

A soft, weighted pillow designed to sit over the eyes would suit my side sleep position, while still allowing me to get comfortable on the pillow. In contrast, the Sweater Sleep Hack is basically trying to sleep with a jumper wrapped around your head. It might work if you were on a airplane (or hostage situation) but, as in my case, can actually inhibit your ability to fall asleep when in the comfort of your own bed. 

Nicola Appleton
Sleep Features Editor

Nicola Appleton is Sleep Features Editor at Tom’s Guide, specialising in quality news content surrounding sleep and wellbeing. Nicola cut her teeth as a journalist in a busy newsroom in Bristol, UK, 15 years ago as part of a team at Britain's largest independent press agency. Since then, her job as a journalist has taken her to the States, to Sydney, and then back to Blighty, where she has written and edited features for a whole host of prominent British and international brands, including  The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPost, Refinery29, Stylist and more. As well as tackling the vast topic of sleep, Nicola will be joining the raft of expert mattress reviewers at Tom's Guide, helping steer readers towards the very best mattresses on the market.