How a Bag of Frozen Peas Eased My Anxiety and Finally Gave Me a Full Night’s Sleep

We’ve all tried reading a book, taking deep breaths, and counting sheep to fall asleep.

But one woman said putting frozen peas on her check was “life changing”.

In a viral TikTok video, Frankie Simmons explains how the hack got rid of her habit of waking up at 4am every night.

She said: “A few years ago I would very often wake up at 4am with anxiety all the time.”

“And I would have to get out of bed and do all this breathing and energy work and drink tea and spend forever trying to calm myself down to go back to sleep.

“That all changed the day I found out you had to ice your vagus nerve.”

The vagus nerve begins in the brain and runs through the neck, chest, and abdomen. There is one on each side of the body.

You’ve probably never heard of the vagus nerve, although it’s crucial for bodily functions.

It’s part of the autonomic nervous system, which means it’s involved in lowering heart rate, alertness and blood pressure – helping with calm and relaxation – among other things.

For example, the vagus nerve stimulates certain muscles in the heart that help slow the heart rate.

The sympathetic nervous system does the opposite job, increasing alertness, heart rate and more.

Frankie said that applying cold to the vagus nerve “stimulates [the vagus nerve] and helps it do its job better”, as well as “reduce inflammation”.

“You can do that by taking freezing showers. You can do that by bathing in frozen lakes,” Frankie said.

“But, if you want to save yourself the discomfort, just put an ice pack in the center of your chest. Wrap it in a towel, just put it there, lie down for at least 15 minutes and it’s a game changer.

“When I found [out about] that… I didn’t even have an ice pack back then, I would just go to the freezer, get a packet of peas, put it between my boobs and be back in no time.

“It changed my life. I want everyone to know this magic.

Another fan of the technique is Dr David Clancy, a senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical and Life Sciences at Lancaster University, who says he sometimes uses frosting to fall asleep.

He told The Sun: “The idea is that it stimulates the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system to go from stressed (flight/flight) to calm.”

“The evidence isn’t strong yet, but there are some suggestions it may help.”

The vagus nerve is thought to be involved in many conditions, including depression, heart disease, epilepsy, and headaches.

A device that can be implanted under the skin and stimulates the nerve is approved for depression and epilepsy in the United States.

Experts are learning even more about “vagus nerve stimulation” for wellness.

But some have found natural ways to try it, claiming it has saved their lives.

This includes exposure to extremely cold conditions, such as taking a very cold shower or, as Frankie does, applying ice to the neck or chest.

Deep breathing and meditation are also hailed as a way to “influence vagal tone” (activity).

Although these types of methods require more research, some experts believe they make a difference.

Swiss psychiatrists have written that increasing vagal tone “through meditation and yoga likely contributes to resilience and alleviation of mood and anxiety symptoms.”

They stated in their paper that high vagal tone is “correlated with the ability to regulate stress responses.”

“Vagus nerve stimulation and several meditation techniques demonstrate that modulating the vagus nerve has a therapeutic effect, primarily due to its relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Healthline also reports that “people with strong vagal tone may find it easier to relax after a stressful event, and their bodies may be better able to handle inflammation and gut issues.”

This suggests that inflammation-related conditions may benefit from vagus nerve stimulation, including IBS.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.

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