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Why "Bed Rotting" Might Be Bad for Your Mental Health

What it really supports: avoidance, rumination, and sleep disruption.

Key points

  • A new self-care trend, dubbed "bed rotting," has gone viral on TikTok.
  • Bed rotting enthusiasts assert that staying in bed all day provides an escape from life's problems.
  • There are better ways to recharge.

A new self-care trend, dubbed "bed rotting," has gone viral on TikTok, and young people are hoping the strategy will bolster their emotional well-being. In case you haven't heard of it, "bed rotting" refers to staying in bed while you’re awake to unwind or decompress. Some bed-rotters watch TV all day from the comfort of their beds, while others stay in bed to eat snacks, scroll through their phones, and hide from the demands of the world for hours on end.

Bed rotting is touted as a strategy that combats the pressure to be productive all the time while also providing an opportunity to unwind and decompress. Enthusiasts say staying in bed provides relaxation and an escape from life's problems that can improve mental health.

But, like much of the mental health advice given on TikTok, bed rotting might not actually be the most responsible guidance, or the be the best way to rejuvenate yourself. In fact, staying in bed all day might worsen existing mental health problems and potentially introduce new ones. Fortunately, there are much healthier ways to practice self-care and grow mentally stronger.

Why Staying in Bed Might Be Bad for You

While reading a magazine in bed for a few minutes before you face the day may not do any harm, staying in bed for hours on end might take a toll on your well-being, especially if you have a pre-existing mental health issue; bed rotting can exacerbate existing symptoms. And bed rotting might introduce new problems in your life, in one of several ways:

  • Staying in bed while you’re awake might interfere with sleep. Staying in bed while you’re awake may cause insomnia. It’s important to associate your bed with being asleep, rather than a place where you work, eat, watch TV, or just stay awake. Otherwise, you'll train your brain to stay awake when you're in bed.
  • Inactivity can contribute to depression and anxiety. Inactivity can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression. The longer you stay inactive, or the more often you do it, the greater the risk of developing or worsening anxiety and/or depression, which can reduce motivation and spur fatigue. So while it may be tempting to stay in bed, effective treatment for depression typically incudes physical activity, social interaction, and problem-solving.
  • Ruminating increases mental health issues. Without any stimulation, you might be more likely to rehash conversations that already happened, dwell on your problems, or think about the same things over and over. Ruminating on stressors or negative events increases or sustains mental health issues such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, somatic symptom disorder, and substance use disorders.
  • Avoiding problems adds to stress. If you’re stressed out because you’re struggling to pay the bills or you’re feeling overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, retreating to bed may give you some temporary relief. But escapism won’t solve the problems that are actually causing your distress; it may just prolong solving them and add to your long-term distress.
  • Idle time may lead to more screen time. Without any stimulation, many people automatically reach for their phones or laptops. But extra screen time isn’t likely to lead to rejuvenation; in fact, it may cause more stress.

Alternative Ways to Recharge

Taking some time away from the demands of your life is important, and beneficial. Relaxing in healthy ways can prevent burnout and improve psychological well-being. But there are better ways to recharge than bed rotting. Here are some alternatives:

  • Enjoy a short digital detox. Turn off your notifications and set your electronics aside for a full day and see what happens to your mental health. Work on a puzzle, explore a new hobby, or do something you love without the distraction of your phone.
  • Spend time in nature. A walk in green spaces gives your brain a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle. Take a hike, go for a picnic in the park, or enjoy a scenic view if you can.
  • Read a book. Reading gives your brain a break from your problems while keeping you entertained. Research shows that reading can be a great way to reduce stress fast.
  • Do yoga. Yoga is good for the body and the mind. Whether you sign up for an in-person class or follow a free video from the comfort of home, there are many different options.
  • Go for a walk. Moving your body is a powerful way to release endorphins that boost mood and promote relaxation. Whether you power-walk around the neighborhood or go for a leisurely stroll in the park, physical activity might rejuvenate you more than you think.
  • Spend time with people you care about. Feeling the pressure to please others can exhaust you. But spending time with friends and family with whom you can be yourself might energize you. Consider meeting up with someone you feel comfortable around and some healthy social interaction might reinvigorate you.

Examine Your Lifestyle

If you find that you're tempted to retreat to bed for a whole day, or you can't pull yourself to get out of bed in the first place, it's certainly a sign that life is overwhelming you at the moment. Rather than staying in bed, though, you might want to look at the bigger picture of your life. Perhaps your job is too stressful. Or maybe you are overwhelmed because you struggle to set boundaries or you're so deeply in debt that you can't enjoy life. All of these issues are better-tackled head-on, not by hiding your head in the pillows.

The temptation to stay in bed all day might be a sign that you're at risk for burnout or experiencing a mental health issue. To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

Facebook/LinkedIn image: Rachata Teyparsit/Shutterstock


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Hofmann, S. G., & Hay, A. C. (2018). Rethinking avoidance: Toward a balanced approach to avoidance in treating anxiety disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 55, 14–21.

Rizzolo, D., Zipp, G. P., Stiskal, D., & Simpkins, S. (2009). Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On Stress. Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC), 6(8).

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