Why Your Bed Rot Self-Care Practice Could Cause Some Long Term Issues

Few things are more satisfying than lying in bed after a long week of hustling. Sometimes, it doesn't even have to be for sleep. You can decide to park yourself on your mattress in a horizontal position for hours on end just because. Doing so empowers you to turn your brain off, momentarily forget all your worries, and do whatever you want in the sacred little bubble you've created for yourself.

Lounging in bed for a long stretch of time is a thing people have been doing since time immemorial, especially if they've had a particularly stressful day or week. However, there are some that feel guilty doing so, because they think that lying down with no clear purpose other than resting is the opposite of productivity. And well, we live in a society where overworking is often glorified and encouraged (toxic productivity, anyone?).

But in recent months, there's been a prevailing trend on TikTok called "bed rotting," which is apparently Gen Z's preferred term for chilling out in bed. The only difference is they have co-opted pointless lounging and framed it in a way that it's now seen as a form of self-care. But while bed rotting may sound appealing, it can easily lead to mental and physical health problems if you're not careful.

Deconstructing the art of bed rotting

viral TikTok of a woman admitting that she delights in nothing more than rotting in her bed the whole day had hundreds of people commenting that they feel the same way. "I feel my purpose in this life is to rot in [different] places — my bed, hotel bed, beach sand, hammock, etc. I was made to lay and rot," one user said. "I always look forward to the days I can just lay and do nothing," wrote another.

With the #bedrotting tag racking up hundreds and millions of views on the platform, perhaps it does make sense to practice marinating in bed once in a while. The best part of it all is that there are no holds barred when you choose to bed rot, so you can either do nothing or everything. You can scroll your phone for hours, binge-watch trash TV, bury your head in a book — the works. As long as it makes you feel good and lifts your everyday burden off your shoulders, albeit temporarily, then bed rot to your heart's content. After all, it's no different than resting or sleeping, both of which are activities found to be productive and beneficial to your health. With this logic, bed rotting can be productive. But as with everything in life, practicing moderation is key. 

Too much bed rotting can make you sedentary

Even though bed rotting is apparently good for your body, mind, and soul, can you go overboard with it? It's a bit hard to quantify, but if you choose to bed rot for days on end, you run the risk of causing your body to spiral into a sedentary state. "Inactivity breeds inactivity — you will feel less able to perform movements the less you move," Dr. Theresa Marko, board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy told Sleepopolis. It's even more surprising to find out that it only takes as little as two weeks for your persistent bed rotting to cause your muscles to deteriorate and for the state of your metabolism to incur adverse effects, including increased susceptibility to diabetes and heart disease, according to a study conducted by the University of Liverpool

There's no overstating, then, how much physical activity is needed to keep your body in tip-top shape. If you plan on bed rotting for an extended amount of time, then perhaps it's best to sprinkle in movement every now and then. "Count the number of hours you sleep, and then subtract that from 24 hours. That number is the number of hours in the day you have to be active and engaged," Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist, shared with Real Simple. "If you spend more than 50 percent of that time sitting, reclining, and not moving, it's important to find ways to change this."

Bed rotting can mess with your mental health as well

Additionally, prolonged bed rotting can also mess up your sleeping patterns, which can negatively impact your mental health. Certain sleep experts, including Rachel Salas, associate professor of neurology and sleep expert at Johns Hopkins University, pointed out to the BBC that to avoid this, your bed should only be for sleeping, sex, and sickness. "The more you watch TV in bed, play video games in bed and not sleep in bed, your brain starts learning, 'oh, [okay], we can do any one of these activities in bed'. It starts building these associations, which eventually evolve into conditioned behaviors."

What's worse is that choosing to spend more time indoors when you can allocate some of that time outside negatively impacts your mood levels and exacerbates your anxiety. When you're indoors 99% of the time, Indiana University Health psychiatrist Dr. Danielle Henderson, explained to Bustle that "we are less interactive and engaged, which decreases the opportunity for activating and reinforcing activities." She also noted that you may find that you're "upset more easily than usual or become upset by seemingly minor things."

Make no mistake. Bed rotting can still be considered self-care when done in moderation. Staying in for one whole Sunday once in a while is fine, but if you're serious about self-care, it's better to allot your time doing activities that you find meaningful. Self-care doesn't always mean you have to do it within five feet of your bed.