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Imagine it's a rainy Sunday morning. Outside, the world is gray and misty, but you're snuggled under your comforter with a book and a cup of tea at your side. There's no need to get up—not for chores, not for errands, and definitely not for your email. This is the essence of "bed rotting," a self-care trend sweeping across TikTok, where the goal is to stay in bed all day or even the entire weekend, breaking only for essentials like food or the restroom.

The idea behind bed rotting is that you're reclaiming your time by only leaving your bed to get food or use the bathroom. Rather than studying, exercising, or working, you're putting off productivity and taking time to relax and recharge. Some see bed rotting as a rejection of hustle culture and a form of self-care, while others worry about the implications on mental health and sleep hygiene. Minimal research has been done on this and other social media wellness trends, but it is essential to consider both the benefits and dangers of idleness if you're deciding whether bed rotting is right for you.

The allure of inactivity

Bed rotting can be considered a self-care strategy that allows people to nurture themselves and temporarily avoid the world and other responsibilities. During the pandemic restrictions in the years before the bed rotting trend, people were forced to isolate, and for many, their homes became their offices, schools, and workspaces. Choosing to reclaim home as a place of relaxation and staying there because you want to, not because you have to, may be the result of the lockdowns and social distancing required during the pandemic.

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Cultural shifts in perceptions of rest

The phenomenon of bed rotting has appeared at a time when cultural attitudes toward rest and mental health may be starting to shift. A 2015 study on worker burnout by Deloitte found that 91 percent of respondents reported having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration that negatively impacted the quality of their work, and nearly 70 percent of professionals felt their employers were not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout.

Working long hours was found to increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, and there was a push to reduce the stigma around mental health that made people start thinking about rest more carefully.

Bed rotting, a trend started by Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, may signify the younger generation's response to the damaging physical and mental health effects of hustle culture.

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Defining safe versus unsafe rest

Allowing yourself to rest without feeling guilty may be one of the benefits of bed rotting, but everyone is different, and it is critical to assess whether bed rotting is actually helping you.

If you decide to try bed rotting for a weekend and wake up Monday morning feeling rested and mentally ready to begin another week, then occasional bed rotting may be effective. However, there may be links between sleep, inactivity, and poor mental health that bed rotting can exacerbate.

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The psychological benefits of rest

When practiced appropriately, a bed-rotting day or mental health day can have many psychological benefits. These may include reduced feelings of burnout, improved mood, improved resiliency, increased productivity, and improved mental and physical health.

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Risks of excessive idleness

Excessive idleness can have adverse effects on mental and physical health. Overall, inactivity can contribute to anxiety and depression, and the longer you're inactive, and the more often you do it, the higher the risk. Inactivity can also lead to ruminating or cycles of repetitive thinking, which can negatively affect mental health.

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Expert guidelines on bed rotting

According to Nicole Hollingshead, PhD, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, there are some ways to make bed rotting as healthy as possible. To prevent bed rotting from becoming destructive to your mental health, people should do it infrequently, and it should be only one part of your self-care routine.

Intermix occasional bed rotting with activities you enjoy or that make you feel productive. For example, you may try to load the dishwasher so you feel like you accomplished something and then read a book or listen to your favorite podcast to wind down when you're feeling stressed.

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Role of social media in wellness trends

Social media has many effects on health and wellness trends. Research shows that social media outlets can raise awareness about promoting women's health, particularly increasing awareness of menstrual hygiene, breast cancer, breastfeeding techniques, and consistency with exercise and smoking cessation.

While social media's role in wellness may have many benefits, this research also points out some downsides, specifically that people on social media may knowingly or unknowingly spread misinformation online and that encouraging more social media use can lead to excessive or compulsive use.

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Alternatives to bed rotting for relaxation

There are alternatives to bed rotting that can help you relax without as many risks to your mental health. Here are some things to try:

  • Turn off the notifications on your phone and set it aside for a day.
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy, like puzzles, reading, or exploring a new hobby.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time with loved ones.

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Sleep hygiene and mental health

Sleep is essential to physical and mental health. A harmful side effect of bed rotting may be that it disrupts sleep. Bed rotting can affect the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

When someone stays in bed all day, they're likely missing crucial sunlight which can delay the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Bed rotting also reduces activity. Generally, sleep drive accumulates throughout the day and can be accelerated by exercise and activity so that, by bedtime, the body is ready to rest.

Finally, spending time in bed when awake interrupts sleep cues. All of these things combined can interrupt the amount and quality of sleep, which can negatively affect mental health.

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Recognizing unhealthy behavioral patterns

When used occasionally, bed rotting can be a way to recharge and care for mental health, but avoiding people and activities can be unhealthy.

If you're experiencing a low mood and lack of motivation for most days for more than a few weeks, it can be a sign of a mental health issue. Talk to a friend or reach out to a mental health professional if you find it difficult to get out of bed.

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Strategies for balancing rest and activity

Rest is essential to being productive in any area of your life. Some ways to balance rest and productivity include:

  • Focus on your most challenging tasks first.
  • Talk a walk outside.
  • Take a 60- to 90-minute nap if you feel tired.
  • Stop working when you have little energy left. Leave some tasks unfinished to make getting started the next day easier.
  • Prioritize sleep.

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Crafting mindful rest practices

When done purposely and occasionally, bed rotting can be a legitimate form of self-care, but extended periods of isolation and inactivity may have some negative impacts on mental health and sleep. Self-care is essential for improving your psychological and physical health and can help manage stress, increase energy, and lower your risk of illness.

Some people may benefit from bed rotting, while others may get more results from exercising, practicing gratitude, or reading. When it comes to self-care, finding out what works for you is the most important aspect to ensure you're set.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.