Bed rotting is a way of managing stress

Bed Rotting: A New Way of Self-Care

What the heck is the new TikTok trend receiving millions of views among Gen Z?! It's called "bed rotting," and it's being touted as a new self-care trend. Upon hearing the term, your first thought might be a mattress beyond its prime. But we've all done it—relish a lazy Sunday morning in bed for a few hours to rest and recuperate while being intentionally unproductive. It's not a revolutionary concept, but unlike more mature generations who might see this behavior (or lack thereof) as a waste of time or something to feel guilty about, young people are embracing it.

Let's find out more about the social media trend known as bed rotting!

What is bed rotting?

Rotting in bed is a self-care trend made popular by twentysomethings that involves staying in bed for extended periods (all day, or sometimes for multiple days), not to sleep, but to do passive activities such as binge-watching Netflix and scrolling through your phone. Not changing out of your pajamas, eating in bed (including junk food), and maybe even forgoing hygiene can all be part of bed rotting. It's a whole lot of nothing—which is exactly the point!

Bed rotting is something you can do for the whole morning or for an entire day, sometimes even more than that.

Why do people bed rot?

We can certainly thank social media for playing a role in this self-care trend's popularity. Those visually aesthetic videos of cozy linens with lit candles, good food, enticing movies, and smiling faces sure make a lazy day in bed sound like the perfect escape.

Escape from what, exactly? Well, life may feel particularly overwhelming these days to the newly minted adults who are responsible for the trend. The demands of everyday life can take a toll on our head-to-toe health. If you work long hours—think healthcare professionals working 12, 24, or sometimes 48-hour shifts!—or if you just have a physically or mentally demanding role at work, then you must calm your body to help ease exhaustion and stress.

Staying wrapped up in your cozy comforter as your alarm rings in the morning could be an opportunity to recharge your batteries. The constant pressure to perform and be productive at work can be overwhelming, making a day of no productivity particularly appealing!

But the question is: can bed rotting be harmful to your health? Let's take a look at the impact of inactivity on the body.

What happens to your body when you stay in bed all day?

Experts agree that it is important to participate in self-care to boost energy and manage stress in your fast-paced life; doing so is essential for your mental and physical health. And sometimes, bed rotting is the type of self-care you need. If you've had a hectic week at work, have some life stressors, need more energy, or need to recover from self-inflicted post-party blues, then sometimes staying in bed is a must. And listening to your body, in this case, can be good!

Here's what happens when you indulge in a single day of bed rotting:

  • You catch up on rest.

    Even if you remain wide awake from morning until night, staying put after months and months of a go-go-go cycle should be restorative for most people.
  • You may feel less stressed.

    Research shows that unmanaged stress negatively impacts cognition, decision-making, mental and physical health and longevity. Bed rotting to the rescue! Pro tip: Adding ashwagandha to your daily routine can help your body encourage a healthy stress response—even when you don't have a cozy lair to escape to!
  • You may feel energized and rejuvenated.

    Using your precious free hours to give your mind and body a much-needed break should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. After a day of doing absolutely nothing, you may feel both physically and mentally refreshed the next day—so you can attack that crazy schedule of yours with more gusto!

Bed rotting isn't for everyone, though. Listen to your body; if you're not feeling great, then chances are that you may be better off getting up and moving around.

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What are the dangers of bed rotting?

When it comes to bed rotting, there can be too much of a good thing! The key is to make bed rotting an occasional activity and not a way of life. It should be a temporary relief from life's stressors, not a regular pattern. If you find yourself using bed rotting as an excuse for avoiding responsibilities for essential aspects of your life, it could impact your sleep, cognitive health and well-being.

When done in excess, bed rotting can impact your health in three main ways:

    1. It affects your biology from the inside out:

    Millions of years of evolution have made everyday movement vital for joint and muscle health, appetite and digestion, sleep cycles and mood. Research has shown that too much sleep (and a sedentary lifestyle) isn't good for us. Less blood is pumped to vital organs, including your heart and brain, and there's decreased oxygen to your muscles and deconditioning of your lung capacity. These things lead to less support for your knees and joints.

    2. It creates a cycle of inactivity and social isolation:

    Inactivity breeds inactivity. What starts as self-care to rest and recuperate could turn into less productivity, less engagement in enjoyable activities, less time with loved ones—and more social isolation. Lack of interaction with the outside world can affect your mental health, as you miss out on some of those feel-good neurotransmitters that come when you share a joke, a smile or a hug with someone you care about.

    3. It may hinder your quality of life:

    Getting in the habit of spending hours in bed likely will cut down on your mobility. Being physically active has benefits for your mood and your mind, so all of that inactivity can impact your brain as well as your body.

How do you know if you’re bed rotting too much?

You don't want bed rotting to become a habit. If you find yourself spending most of your free time on your devices, especially while in bed, it could mean you should take a closer look at your mood, energy levels and outlook. If bed rotting becomes a barrier to taking care of daily responsibilities or living your life to its fullest, it may be time to seek professional help.

Does rotting in bed promote anti-productivity?

You wouldn't think there could be anything controversial about a lazy day in bed, but it's a hot-button issue for some people. Some say that Gen Z's new self-care model rejects the productivity culture and instead embraces "anti-productivity." However, proponents of bed rotting say it is the antidote to the stressors of the modern world when the inundation of information and stimuli gets overwhelming—and that after a bed rotting session, they are refreshed and more productive than they were before.

But bed rotting doesn't have to be a "statement" about society! It can just be a much-needed day of recovery. As with anything in life, balance is key. Nonstop bed rotting is not recommended—but an occasional day of downtime might be exactly what you need to get through the chaos!

What are other forms of self-care?

If bed rotting doesn't sound like it's for you, no worries! Just don't cheat yourself out of self-care. Spend your time doing proven feel-good activities such as:

  • Exercise
  • Go for a walk in nature
  • Reading and journaling
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Talking with a friend
  • Finding hobbies you enjoy

These activities help you to actively engage in life and find meaning and pleasure rather than bolster feelings of dissatisfaction. Finding ways to disrupt a bad mood helps lower stress levels, and supports healthy sleep patterns, which are essential for optimal health. Pro tip: Add high-quality supplements that can help your body manage stress.

About the Author: Krista Elkins has 20 years of experience in healthcare, both as a paramedic (NRP) and registered nurse (RN). She has worked on both ground and helicopter ambulances (CCP-C, CFRN), and in ER, ICU, primary care, psychiatric, and wilderness medicine. She practices and has a devoted life-long interest in preventative medicine. She is a conscientious, research-driven writer who cares about accuracy and ethics.