TikTok’s "Alpha Bridge Sleep” Hack Is The Easiest Way To Fall Asleep

Start snoozing in 30 seconds.

What is the "alpha bridge sleep" hack from TikTok?

If you can’t fall asleep at night you might resort to desperate measures, like eating melatonin gummies, blasting your rain sound machine, or dousing yourself in lavender spray. Sometimes, though, it’s the simplest sleep tricks that work best.

One of the most popular sleep hack options of the moment is the “alpha bridge sleep technique,” which has millions of views on TikTok. In a viral video from earlier this month, creator @erica.terblanche broke down the trick’s four simple steps, and she said it’s a skill that can help you fall asleep anytime and anywhere — including on planes. Turns out, a good night’s rest could be as easy as opening and closing your eyes. In her comments section, one person said, “This completely changed my life, thanks,” while another wrote, “This really works, I fell aslee—”

According to Dr. Shelby Harris, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis, the alpha bridge technique is a legitimate sleep strategy many people use to transition from being awake to sleep. “It uses a series of eye movements combined with mental relaxation tactics that boost alpha brain wave activity,” she tells Bustle. “These waves are important in calming the mind and supporting the transition to sleep.”

Here’s what to know about this viral sleep hack, including how to do it and what it was like to try it as someone who struggles to get good rest.

How To Cross The Alpha Bridge

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In her video, @erica.terblanche broke down the four easy steps for “crossing the alpha bridge” into sleep. Here’s how to give it a try.

  • Get comfortable in your bed. (If you’re on a plane or train, get as comfy as possible.)
  • Close your eyes and count to 30.
  • Next, open your eyes slightly, so only a sliver of them is open like a half-moon shape.
  • Count to five as you hold them slightly open.
  • Fully close your eyes again and count to 30.
  • Open your eyes halfway again and count to five.
  • Close your eyes one more time and focus on your breath.
  • Slowly breathe in and out through your nose, and you should drift off to sleep.

So, What Is The “Alpha Bridge” Anyway?

This trick refers to your alpha brain waves. According to Harris, these are types of brain waves that appear prominently when you're relaxing with your eyes closed, right at the brink of sleep.

The goal is to stimulate these brain waves by simulating drowsy eye movements so you feel relaxed enough to catch some Zs. “This technique helps to encourage the generation of alpha waves, which are an integral part of relaxation and drowsiness,” she says. “Alternating eye movements can guide your brain from alert beta waves to the calmer alpha waves, making it easier to fall asleep.”

Trying This Technique

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Since I live for sleep hacks, you’ll never catch me scrolling past a trick on TikTok. While I’m already a fan of deep breathing techniques, ASMR, and green noise to help me snooze, I was intrigued by the idea that the alpha bridge technique is as easy as blinking.

I actually came across this trend late one night when I was struggling to fall asleep. I had already tried spritzing lavender spray on my pillow, relaxing in the dark, taking a warm shower, and a few other go-tos, but nothing worked.

So, as suggested, I shimmied around in my blankets to get extra comfy and then I closed my eyes for 30 seconds, reopened them ever-so-slightly for five, and then closed them again — all the while counting in my head. Once I closed and opened them a few more times, I focused on my breath, and sure enough, I was knocked out.

Instead of lying there with my eyes closed to force myself to sleep — a tactic that’ll truly do you no favors, since it causes a lot of stress — I think this hack works because it mimics what it’s like to be genuinely drowsy.

As you hold your eyes halfway open, it almost tricks your brain into thinking you’re sleepier than you actually are. It made me feel like my eyelids were getting heavier and soon the rest of my body followed suit.

Does It Work For Everyone?

This technique might not work perfectly on the first go, especially if you struggle to fall asleep every single night. In fact, “the alpha bridge method seems to be more effective for people who experience occasional difficulties falling asleep, rather than those with chronic insomnia,” says Harris, and that’s because true insomnia can be way more complex with psychological or physiological roots, and thus not as responsive to simple sleep hacks.

If you don’t waltz across the alpha bridge on your first round, Harris says it’s more than OK to try the technique a few more times until you snooze. This hack has been working best for me on the nights when I’m so close to asleep, but can’t quite make it happen, and I’ve been so impressed. But if it isn’t a hit for you, there are plenty of other options to try.

“If it continually doesn’t help, consider exploring other relaxation methods such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or consulting with a sleep specialist,” she says. “Remember, different strategies work differently for everyone, so finding what helps you might require some experimenting."

Studies referenced:

Kaur, H. (2023). Chronic Insomnia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan–. PMID: 30252392.

Komini, A. (2023). A Systematic Review on the Adult Alpha Brainwave Activity After Essential Oil Inhalation. Adv Exp Med Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-31986-0_53.

Mohamed, M. (2023). Advancements in Wearable EEG Technology for Improved Home-Based Sleep Monitoring and Assessment: A Review. Biosensors (Basel). doi: 10.3390/bios13121019.

Patel, AK. (2024). Physiology, Sleep Stages. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan–. PMID: 30252388.


Dr. Shelby Harris, licensed clinical psychologist, director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis