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What Is ‘Bed Rotting’ and Why is it Trending with Gen-Z?

‘Bed Rotting’ is sweeping among Generation Z and going viral on TikTok. Don’t worry; it’s nothing infectious, although the concept itself is catching on. We’ll explain Bed Rotting and why a short bout can be beneficial.

A stressed gen-z youth hiding in their bed

What Is Bed Rotting?

TikTok is the social media platform where many new trends get their start these days among Generation Z. Bed Rotting is the latest trend going viral among Gen-Zers. But don’t worry, this foul-sounding moniker isn’t actually viral in the infectious sense. It has nothing to do with anything contagious, but the concept is definitely catching on.

The term “bed rotting” refers to spending the whole day in bed.

One can simply remain in bed without doing anything. Just resting. Or one can do very light or passive activities while still in bed, such as:

  • Using social media
  • Watching TV
  • Watching streaming services
  • Journaling
  • Napping/Sleeping
  • Reading
  • Eating snacks

Why Are People Bed Rotting?

One of the primary reasons people choose to Bed Rot is from feeling burnout. It may be due to school, family demands, work, or social engagements.

In this light, Bed Rotting can be seen as a form of self-care.

How Bed Rotting Can Be Good for You

Experts commenting on the new trend agree that Bed Rotting is a form of self-care that can be beneficial for managing stress and boosting energy.

Psychologists say that, in small doses, bed rotting is a good way to calm the body, reduce exhaustion, and ease stress. This can be particularly helpful for people who work long hours in mentally or physically demanding roles.

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“These individuals might use this practice to give themselves an opportunity to ‘recharge their batteries,’ so to speak,” Courtney DeAngelis, PsyD, a psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told Health.

“[Bed Rotting] may also help people feel like they have permission to lay around without feeling guilty,” said Nicole Hollingshead, Ph.D., a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 

“Our society tends to put too much emphasis [on] and, in some ways, [glorifies] being busy or productive all the time,” Hollingshead added. “This can lead to feeling burnt out and not allow us time to rest or recharge without labeling this as ‘being lazy.'”

When Bed Rotting Becomes Problematic

Psychologists agree that Bed Rotting can benefit some people in the short term. However, it can become concerning if it lasts for more than one or two days. 

Spending too much time in bed can have an effect on school or work attendance, or accomplishing tasks. Allowing your obligations to pile up can ultimately make you feel even more stressed.

Further, too much time in bed will reduce the time spent in meaningful connections with loved ones or friends.

“If bed rotting becomes a habitual behavior, it could potentially be a sign of depression or other mental health issues,” Ryan Sultan, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute, told Health. “It’s important to be mindful of this and not let bed rotting become a pattern of behavior.”

“I would caution that less is more when it comes to the concept of ‘bed rotting,’ and doing this in moderation is important,” said DeAngelis.

Read More: Sleep Better With this Bedtime Routine

Staying in bed or excessive sleeping has long been seen as a sign of depression and other mood disorders. For this reason, psychiatrists caution that by keeping to your bed, you may be overlooking signs of a mental health disorder.

Psychologists say that people who experience anxiety or have clinical depression may find bed rotting appealing. The link is fairly easy to see. People with these conditions often have a lack of interest in activities they usually would enjoy. They also have low energy and mood.

Research shows that the more time spent in bed, the higher the probability of poor mood and inflammation. Therefore, the practice of Bed Rotting could increase the likelihood of developing mood disorders. According to psychologists, hypersomnolence (excessive napping) has a multidirectional relationship with mood disorders. In other words, napping can serve as a cause that produces an effect of mood disorders.

“Bed Rotting could start off as self-care to rest but then turn into fewer productive or enjoyable activities, more time on social media, more sleep issues, more social isolation, and lead to more depression,” Hollingshead said. “In order to break this cycle, being more active improves our mood and our motivation.”

“When we engage in Bed Rotting, we are more likely to stay in the same mind state that we were in before bed rotting,” DeAngelis said.

Read More: Why Are Depression Rates Getting So Much Worse?

Bed Rotting Can Be Detrimental to Normal Sleep

Psychologists also warn that bed rotting can disrupt our normal pattern of sleep, as well as our associations with our bed and bedroom as a place for sleeping.

“Simply put, your physical body might be confused at night and won’t know if you are trying to fall asleep or Bed Rot,” DeAngelis said.

Bed Rotting and the Spiral of Inactivity

Psychologists, doctors, and physical therapists have weighed in on the trend of Bed Rotting. All are warning of the effects of sedentary behavior and the health problems it can cause across the board. It is important to move every day. It’s vital to circulation, digestion, joint health, appetite regulation, mood, and sleep cycles.

Inactivity breeds inactivity,” said Dr. Theresa Marko, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. “You will feel less able to perform movements the less you move.”

“It takes away the opportunity to engage in physical exercise, which can also help to improve sleep quality and sleep onset,” said DeAngelis. 

Do This Instead of Bed Rotting

Rather than spend extended time in bed, engage in activities that will produce the same relaxation effects. For example, journaling, meditating, or reading. Even better, light exercises such as gentle yoga can help calm both the mind and body. All of these activities can reduce anxiety.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you find yourself wanting to spend more than one or two days in bed, or if your “bed rotting” becomes frequent – you may need to seek help.

“If [bed rotting] becomes a habitual behavior or if you notice signs of depression, it’s crucial to seek professional help,” says Doctor Sultan.