People are ‘Bed Rotting’ on TikTok. Can the Trend be Bad for Your Mental Health?

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

Younger generations have assigned an attention-grabbing new name to lying in bed all day. It’s called “bed rotting,” a Gen Z trend with more than 107 million views on TikTok.
At first glance you’d think there was a more complex action behind such a strange term, but it’s really pretty simple. Bed rotting can involve on-again, off-again sleeping, binge-watching shows, scrolling through your phone, snacking, engaging in your skin care routine, or simply unplugging and doing nothing. The only prerequisite is that it has to take place in bed. All day long.
“Normally in the past if I stayed in bed all day, I would feel so guilty,” said a TikTok user in June, on a post with well over 1,000 engagements. “I am no longer going to feel guilty for bed-rotting. We have been conditioned to be productive members of society for so long. Sometimes you just want to lay in bed and do nothing.”
The spirit of the trend is rooted in self-care. It’s about taking a holiday or weekend day to reduce stress, unwind and recharge. Some skeptics of the trend call it “lazy,” but bed rotting could be potentially more harmful than that. Since exploding at the turn of 2023, the trend has been challenged by some who wonder if bed rotting is detrimental to a person’s mental health. 

Is bed rotting bad for you?

Relaxing in bed after a long day or week can be harmless. It can even accomplish the goal that some TikTokers set out to achieve, which is decompress and recharge for the days ahead. Whether bed rotting is bad for your health depends on how much of a habit it becomes for those who indulge in it. Making it a pattern could lead or indicate an array of issues. 
In some cases, lying in bed for long spells and oversleeping can indicate signs of depression or other mood disorders. A loss of interest in hobbies you enjoy, as well as decreased energy and fatigue, may weave into the appeal of bed rotting for some, which are also symptoms of depression. As some TikTok users – like the one highlighted above – share in their posts, spending a ton of time in bed can lead to feelings of excessive guilt, which can be another gateway to depressive symptoms.
Too much time spent in between the sheets, napping periodically can also skew a person’s sleep schedule. Our body’s biological clock – known as its circadian rhythms –is set based on the pattern of daylight where we live. Our circadian rhythms naturally make us sleepy at night, while making us awake and alert during the day. The on-again, off-again napping that bed rotting lends itself to can disrupt circadian rhythms and our sleep-wake cycles, because the body becomes confused at what time of day it is and whether it should be sleeping.
Another point against bed rotting is the sedentary behavior it can enable. Sedentary behavior is defined as any activity that takes place in a seated or reclined posture. Research indicates that the risks for anxiety and depression is higher in people with sedentary lifestyles. There's a level of deconditioning that can happen if the "bed rotter" isn't careful. The older we get, the quicker we lose strength and stamina, which fuels a vicious cycle of being potentially too unfit or weak to perform a physical activity if we're not routinely staying active. A 2022 study found that even small amounts of exercise significantly reduced depressive symptoms. Every bit of activity helps; humans simply aren't meant to lie in bed all day.

Self-care practices to consider

Taking some time to chill and relax is fine, but bed rotting isn’t the healthiest form of self-care for the reasons listed above. Be careful not to make bed rotting and avoidance of your thoughts and feelings a weekly habit. Try mixing in some of these expert-approved, self-care practices for better mental health:
  • Cutting back on social media usage and “doomscrolling
  • Going on nature walks
  • Journaling
  • Meditating and doing yoga
  • Spending more time with family and friends
If you’re struggling to make self-care a regular behavior, consider talking to your primary care provider about therapy, which can help pinpoint what’s getting in your way.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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