What Is ‘Bed Rotting’? A Doctor Weighs In on This TikTok Trend
Mental health experts explain the benefits and risk of the latest Internet trend as young people try to reclaim rest.
In a society that values productivity, it’s rare that people just sit back and do nothing—or at least that’s how it used to be. Lately the narrative around rest has changed, and TikTok users are actually gravitating toward doing absolutely nothing all day in a trend known as “bed rotting.”
“Bed rotting refers to doing nothing aside from laying in bed and unwinding,” says Kristin Gill, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Minded. “It’s a term that younger people have coined to describe taking a step back from their busy lives and giving themselves time to recharge their batteries.”
At press time, the hashtag #bedrotting had garnered over 3.2 million views on TikTok. Users post videos of themselves laying in bed, touting the trend as a form of self-care. For some people, laying in bed, catching up on an entire Netflix series and scarfing down some ramen noodles may be exactly what they need to rest and recharge every once in a while. However, is it possible that “bed rotting” can go too far, to where it’s not actually beneficial and maybe even detrimental to one’s mental health? We asked mental health experts and sleep specialists to weigh in on this viral trend.
The benefits of bed rotting
Many TikTok users seem to find bed rotting beneficial to their overall mental health and well-being—and surprisingly, Dr. Gill says it can be.
“It’s normal and healthy for people to want to take time to rest and unplug from the world around them,” Dr. Gill says. “This can actually help people recharge their social battery and physically rest their bodies so they are better suited to tackle what lies ahead.”
Another benefit of bed rotting includes taking a step back from hustle culture and simply being more present. “Taking this initiative to say ‘I’m going to do nothing today’ or ‘I’m going to take a rest day’ can be very empowering to people in a society that feels guilty for resting and taking breaks,” Dr. Gill says.
The risks of bed rotting
However, as with anything, too much bed rotting can hurt more than it helps.
“Staying in bed for long periods of time can be a form of avoidance and potentially lead to isolation,” says Justin Puder, a licensed psychologist and mental health content creator. “Periods of solitude can help us reset, but long periods of isolation are linked to depression. Additionally, staying in our comfort zones for days on end can increase our anxiety when we have to leave for work/school/social meetups.”
Puder adds it’s also important to vary up your environment and get out of your house every day, even if only for an hour or two.
Aside from bed rotting potentially affecting your mental health, it may also negatively impact your sleep schedule. “When you spend too much time in bed outside of your typical sleep window, and that time is spent doing activities that you might normally do when you’re awake, your brain is more likely to blur sleep and wake together,” says Sarah Silverman, a holistic sleep doctor and behavioral sleep medicine specialist. “This may decrease your overall sleep quality and potentially lead to insomnia (or worsen insomnia).”
Additionally, Silverman adds that spending too much time in bed can also weaken your sleep drive and for sleep to happen easily, you want to ensure that your body has a high sleep drive when you get into bed at night.
At the end of the day, bed rotting can be beneficial if incorporated into your life in a healthy and balanced way. However, you’ll still want to find other healthy coping mechanisms to deal with daily stressors, whether that’s going on a solo date to a coffee shop or taking a hike in nature.
“It’s important to note that if ‘bed rotting’ happens on multiple occasions or even unintentionally it might be a sign of a more severe mental or physical health issue that should be addressed by a medical professional,” Dr. Gill says.
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