TikTok Swears That "Cricketing" Is the Cure To Falling Asleep ASAP

Who knew there was a term for this foot behavior?!

A woman rubs her feet together as she falls asleep, a behavior called "cricketing."
Linda Raymond/Getty Images

If you're someone who looks over at your partner when they're sound asleep night after night, wondering how anyone can just hit the sheets and drift off peacefully (hi, it's me!), there's a good chance you've tried all kinds of sh*t in the name of a good night's slumber.

Sleepless nights impact the mind and body in so many ways, and social media is rife with information about how you can (allegedly) cure insomnia. One such technique making the rounds is called "cricketing" or "cricket feet," and TikTokers swear by the self-soothing technique to help them get some quality z's.

What is "cricket feet," anyway?

As the name implies, cricket feet or cricketing is the act of rubbing one's feet together in a rhythmic motion, similar to when crickets rub their legs and wings together, creating that telltale chirping insect sound.

Though you won't be making any nature sounds in your bed as you do it, this simple repetitive motion "can be soothing to someone as they fall asleep for several reasons," as New York City-based neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Mind, Dr. Sanam Hafeez, tells Scary Mommy.

As Hafeez explains, it's a sensory thing offering the brain and body a self-soothing welcome when you're "lying down with blankets around in a dark and quiet space," a time when many of us feel especially restless. "This movement helps individuals to better focus on their body and create a sense of comfort and relaxation. Additionally, cricketing has certain physiological effects on the body that can make it particularly comforting compared to other stimming behaviors," she says. (More on this in a min!)

"Overall, cricketing can create a calming and comforting environment, making it easier for someone to relax and fall asleep."

Is "cricketing" backed by science?

"Cricketing to fall asleep is not a clinically recognized technique," notes Hafeez. "It is a self-regulatory, comforting, and soothing response that some individuals find helpful for relaxation and sleep. However, it is important to note that cricketing is not widely recognized or studied in clinical settings. If you find cricketing to be a new behavior or if it is causing concern, it may be helpful to explore the circumstances surrounding the behavior and consider whether it is a response to additional stress or anxiety in your life."

Stimming 101

Over on TikTok, cricketing has earned high praise from neurodivergent folks — particularly people with autism and ADHD — who find it a comforting "stimming" behavior (aka self-stimulating), similar to hair-twirling, foot-tapping, or leg-bouncing, all of which can help regulate sensitivities to internal or external stimuli.

"Cricketing can be beneficial for individuals with ADHD or autism as it may help with self-regulation and sensory processing," says Hafeez. "People with neurodivergent disorders like ADHD and autism may experience difficulties with social skills, communication, and sensory processing, and engaging in repetitive behaviors like cricketing can offer them immediate relief and comfort."

But you don't have to fall under these categories to find the act enjoyable, she adds. And you might notice that your kids do it, too. "Cricketing, along with other self-soothing techniques, is not unique to any specific population and can be observed in both children and adults. However, individuals with neurodivergent disorders may be more associated with stimming behaviors like cricketing due to their unique challenges and the need for sensory regulation."

"Repetitive movements like cricketing can be beneficial for easing anxiety," even in neurotypical individuals, she says. "These movements can help regulate the nervous system, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. Engaging in repetitive behaviors, such as cricketing, can serve as a form of self-soothing and emotional regulation, which can be particularly helpful for individuals experiencing heightened discomfort levels or anxiety."

Are there any downsides?

Like most anything else you'll find on TikTok, it's not a magic bullet or cure-all for your sleep woes. (In fact, I tried it to combat jet lag and a bout of insomnia after a 16-hour flight, and I found the sensation of the joints and bones in my feet rubbing together pretty unpleasant, so YMMV.)

"It's important to note that the benefits of cricketing may vary from person to person, and what works for one individual may not work for another," says Hafeez. "If you or someone you know is seeking strategies to manage ADHD or autism symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or therapist who specializes in these conditions for personalized guidance and support."

But if you do enjoy it, go forth and cricket on, as Hafeez says it's "not typically considered a sign of any underlying health conditions." It's also different from restless leg syndrome (RLS), "a neurological disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations."

If you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your daily life — uncontrollable leg movements, leg discomfort, or even cricketing — it's always best to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

"Restless leg syndrome can be a possible cause of leg discomfort and movement, and a healthcare professional can provide further evaluation and guidance," says Hafeez.

Barring any discomfort or other concerns, cricketing is an easy, free, and harmless technique that might just help you unwind after a long day… and really, how many of those are out there these days?