Thanks to TikTok’s beautiful ability to coin terms, there’s a new viral self-care trend you’ve likely contemplated or experienced before: bed rotting. The phrase may seem intense or a bit distasteful, but it’s actually quite the opposite.
The term “bed rotting” essentially involves staying in bed all day by choice, says Cassandra Boduch, MD, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Psych Plus. Staying home in bed, sick with the flu or a twisted ankle, doesn’t qualify, she explains. Instead, bed rotting consists of passive or unproductive activities, like watching Netflix or online shopping, and taking the entire day off to fully relax and rejuvenate from your bed.
Bed rotting has gone viral on TikTok, but the concept is nothing new. “If you are running at full capacity for so long without the break, you will hit a wall,” says Reena Patel, a parenting expert, positive psychologist, and licensed educational board-certified behavior analyst. “It’s important to allow yourself this space to give yourself a break before burnout hits,” she explains.
Now, it’s fun to laugh at the memes, but bed rotting can be detrimental if it becomes a regular occurrence, says Helene D’Jay, MS, LPC, a licensed professional counselor and the executive director of young adult services at Newport Healthcare. “Bed rotting can be a vicious cycle because the more time one spends in bed, the less engaged they become with the outside world and their responsibilities.”
So, what’s the deal? Is bed rotting beneficial or concerning? Is it ever helpful or recommended? Here’s what experts told POPSUGAR.
What Is Bed Rotting?
Put simply, bed rotting is choosing to lie in bed for the declared purpose of self-care or to recharge your social battery and take a mental health day, Dr. Boduch says. Whether it’s a social break or taking the day off work or school, bed rotting is unofficially defined as spending the entire day in bed to give yourself a mental and physical break, she explains.
Is Bed Rotting Beneficial?
Maybe. Bed rotting can be beneficial under the right circumstances, Dr. Boduch says. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I afford to miss this day of work or am I creating problems by skipping out on the day?,’ and be honest,” she explains. If you need to take a mental health day knowing you’ll go in the next day, refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes your way, that’s OK, she adds.
In fact, there can actually be some positives associated with allowing yourself time to rest and reset, like increased good moods, a better ability to focus, improved sleep, and muscle recovery, Patel says. “Packed schedules and being busy feels productive, and many people live their lives with a long running to-do list and are constantly on the go, which is great and can be rewarding, however, there comes a time when you have to reset,” she explains. “It’s so important to your health and well-being to honor this time so you can go back to your normal busy schedule with clarity and energy after a proper reset, and spending extra time in bed can do just that.”
When Does Bed Rotting Become Concerning?
While the occasional bed rot can be refreshing, it’s generally not beneficial in the long run, D’Jay says. “Engaging in prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to physical discomfort, worsened mental health symptoms, and hindered personal growth and development,” she explains. “Taking an occasional day of rest can be beneficial and can help someone slow down a hectic life and recharge, but when it is done regularly as a form of escape from responsibilities or a habit, it can be detrimental both physically and psychologically.”
Consistent bed rotting can also lead to exacerbating solitude, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and feelings of loneliness, D’Jay adds. “Bed rotting becomes concerning when it becomes a consistent pattern that interferes with an individual’s ability to maintain daily routines, fulfill responsibilities, keep up with self-care routines, and engage in activities that promote well-being.”
Plus, bed rotting can be harmful to your personal and professional life. “If, by skipping out on work, you are self-sabotaging your career, then rethink your day in bed,” Dr. Boduch says. Not to mention, languishing in bed all day can also disrupt a healthy sleep pattern, so be sure to make balanced decisions.
So how long is too long to bed rot? If you’re spending more than a day or two bed rotting, it’s time to examine what’s really going on, Dr. Boduch says.
What to Do Instead of Bed Rotting
Good news! There are tons of other self-care techniques that can be rewarding and relaxing aside from bed rotting. Go for a walk with friends, cook your favorite meal, read a good book, meditate, stretch, listen to music, or call a friend or family member, Patel says. Establishing a daily routine and setting achievable goals can also be beneficial, D’Jay adds.
It’s also important to reflect on why you are choosing to stay in bed all day, D’Jay says. “If you are unsure and recognize that something may be wrong, consider seeing a therapist,” she explains. “If bed rotting is linked to underlying emotional issues or mental health conditions, professional support can be beneficial in addressing these concerns.”
The Bottom Line
Bed rotting can be restful and rejuvenating every once in a while. Just be mindful the practice can also be an isolating experience that can compound depression, Dr. Boduch says. “Surround yourself with people you love and trust, and if after a day or two you are still bed rotting, it’s time to reexamine your self-care strategy.”