Last Updated on January 15, 2024 by Otuebo Harrison
“Bed rotting has become a dominant trend on TikTok where users engage in longer periods of bed rest, sometimes lasting an entire day or even more days, while binge-watching and scrolling social media content,” says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, an NYC neuropsychologist and the director of Comprehend the Mind.
“The phrase was birthed when people sought an explanation for their behavior and found appealing in labeling it,” says Hafeez.
The word may be new but staying in bed all day is not.
“Ultimately, naming this practice helps people who engage in bed rotting feel less alone and less isolated, buttering connections among like-minded individuals who can relate and [it] provides a way for people to feel more supported as they realize they are not the only ones engaging in this behavior,” says Hafeez
Is bed rotting really a self-care routine?
A handful of people who practice bed rotting often refer to it as a form of self-care, but health experts say it’s not a healthy practice.
“As a mental health professional, [I think] this trend is misleading, alarming, and unhealthy,” says Catherine Del Toro, a Florida-licensed mental health counselor with Grow Therapy.
“Self-care is actually taking care of your general health and wellness, and bed rotting does not promote this,” she says. “The tendency to stay in bed and do nothing all day but scroll, watch TV, eat, and nap are typical traits of a person who is depressed,” says Del Toro.
Del Toro adds that it’s okay to set out a day to rest as the body needs, but more than this can point to something more serious like, “depression is taking a toll.”
“If this is the case, we should have a plan in place and try not to succumb to this trend,” says, Del Toro.
What are the down sides of bed rotting?
“Spending too much time in bed without adequate care and movement can have countless negative effects on physical and mental health,” says Dr. Hafeez.
According to Hafeez, these include mental and physical health risks like:
Muscle weakness: Lack of physical activity can lead to muscle atrophy and weakness, making it more challenging to perform daily tasks.
Blood circulation issues: Staying in bed for extended periods can hinder blood circulation, leading to swelling and an increased risk of blood clots.
Depression and anxiety: Social isolation and reduced exposure to natural light can contribute to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Sleep disorders: Spending too much time in bed can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Bed Rotting Can Contribute to Depression
Ashley Peña, LCSW, a clinical social worker and the executive director at Mission Connection explains bed rotting, also known as bed-ridden self-care, can often play out as a manifestation of not only depression but a severe depressive episode.
Experts agree that, over time, bed rotting can have a rebound effect of creating a cycle of harmful habits.
“This absence from essential elements like sunlight and human interaction can lead to a downward spiral into depression, as these factors are crucial for most individuals to maintain a sense of well-being and thriving,” says Peña.
Bed rotting can undoubtedly lead to a “vicious cycle in which staying in bed further reinforces negative emotions and disengagement from life’s responsibilities and joys,” says Helene D’Jay, MS, a licensed professional counselor and executive director of Young Adult Services, Newport Healthcare.
“Disrupted sleep patterns and irregular sleep-wake cycles can result in insomnia and poor sleep quality,” adds Hafeez.
“Physical discomfort, such as muscle stiffness and back pain, may also contribute to further sleep disturbances, exacerbating the overall negative impact on mental and sleep health,” she says.
“Taking your meals in bed all day can also have consequences, like making us feel groggy and/or sluggish (assuming we are picking up snacks to eat in bed and not being mindful of our meals),” says Del Toro. “This, in turn, does not give us the energy we need to pull ourselves out of this funk, thereby creating a harmful cycle that is difficult to break away from.”
Is any measure of bed rotting okay?
“If there are no other physical or psychological issues present, 1 to 2 days of resting in bed (over the weekend, for example) might be acceptable,” says D’Jay.
“When it takes the place of more prosocial activities and impacts the individual’s ability to maintain connections and engage socially, it is a problem,” she adds.
She also notes that bed rotting can differ from intentional rest, as it often involves passive and unproductive activities, such as excessive screen time, over-ruminating, or disengaging from the world around us.
“Generally, resting during the day should be rejuvenating and lead to more energy to tackle the day’s responsibilities,” she says. “If it is to escape and doesn’t end up helping recharge, then it can be detrimental.”
What about bed rotting when you have a chronic illness?
It’s understandable if pain, fatigue, and depression are at play or causing feelings of needing to be in bed all day, especially if you live with a chronic illness.
Del Toro says staying in bed for too long can exacerbate symptoms or make some symptoms worse.
“Laying in bed for most of the day does nothing to actively help us maintain symptoms of fatigue, depression, or anxiety,” she adds.
Healthier alternatives to bed rotting
“Seeking support from friends, family or a therapist can be helpful in addressing any underlying issues and finding healthier ways to cope with stress and emotional challenges,” says Peña.
“Most times, professionals will promote ‘Opposite Action,’ where they encourage clients who are feeling this way to do the exact opposite,” says Del Toro.
Del Toro provides the following tips for coping with bed rotting:
- Try to get out of bed
- Move your body
- Stay away from scrolling
- Connect with others
When to seek support for bed rotting
“Seeking support for bed rotting becomes necessary when it starts to disrupt an individual’s daily functioning and well-being,” D’Jay tells Healthline.
“If someone finds themselves consistently staying in bed all day, feeling unmotivated, disconnect[ing] from their usual routines, or experiencing distressing emotions, it may be time to reach out for help from a friend, family member, or mental health professional,” she says.
Bed rotting is a trend that’s gaining traction on Tiktok.
The term refers to participating in prolonged periods of bed rest, often lasting an entire day or even multiple days, while binge-watching programs, eating, and scrolling social media content.
Some individuals are referring to bed rotting as a form of self-care, but health experts warn it can be harmful to mental and physical health in a number of ways, including contributing to depressive episodes.