What is bed rot and is it healthy?

If you haven’t heard the term “bed rot” before, you might assume it’s a description of a rather unfortunate decorating accident, or perhaps a detail from a particularly gruesome serial killer case. If you’ve heard of it, chances are you think it has something to do with depression, or that it’s just the latest excuse for Gen Z to be lazy.

But if you ask some who choose to practice it, they may respond that it is a wonderful self-care intervention and that we could all benefit from a bed rot every now and then.

Is there anything to these claims? Possible – but experts aren’t entirely convinced. So, what is “bed rot”? Is it safe? Should you do it?

Well – spoiler alert – you might do it right now.

What is “bed rot”?

As grim as it may sound, “bed rot” is actually relatively harmless on the surface: it’s the habit of simply staying in bed all day. You could think of it as a “duvet day” if you’re a bit older than Gen Z, or a “sweep” if you’re a bit older; The main point is: you don’t get up, and you not try to be productive.

“You can watch movies, scroll social media, talk on the phone, eat or do anything else you would normally do if you were relaxing at home,” psychologist Robert Common told The Independent last year.

“This is different from bed rest for recovery from illness or injury,” he explained, “and is often used as a method of coping with stress or anxiety.”

Like so many recently coined suggestive terms – we’re looking at you, goblin mode – examples are most easily found on TikTok, where some influencers can be seen in suitably social media-ready beds, advertising their rejection of the hustle -culture that sometimes dominate our lives. Jeffrey Gardere, a clinical psychologist and professor at Touro University’s School of Health Sciences, told Health that it’s most popular among Gen Z and women — two groups that are more stressed than just about anyone these days.

“Our society tends to place too much emphasis [on] and in some ways [glorifies] being busy or productive all the time,” Nicole Hollingshead, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health. “This can leave us feeling burned out and not giving us time to rest or recharge without labeling this as ‘being lazy’.”

Is there any benefit to bed rot?

There’s no denying that mulching in bed can feel better than, say, forcing yourself to shower, dragging yourself to work and spending eight or nine hours at a desk job. But bed rot goes deeper than a little self-indulgence.

“We live in a very fast-paced world, so taking a step back, reconnecting with yourself, recharging your batteries and building up some mental and physical energy is always positive,” Common told The Independent. “In fact, it’s something more of us should schedule into our routines if we can.”

It’s not just rest for your body – although that is undeniably important. Getting enough rest is crucial for good mental health, and bed rot offers a chance for mental recovery; it can be a break from daily stress and exhaustion, and “puts us in a stronger position to reassess our goals and find the motivation to achieve them, fulfill our commitments, and explore personal interests and hobbies without pushing ourselves to burn out,” Common explains.

A day, or even just a few extra hours, spent in bed can help you cope with everything from being tired to a tough project at work to a full-blown existential crisis. But can it go too far?

The dangers of bed rot

There are a few things to look out for when it comes to bed rot. First of all, you want to make sure it’s not a symptom of something more pathological: “Some people [bed rot] because they suffer from depression, or because their mental health can suffer in many different ways,” Tiktok creator @lifeasraven, who has made a number of videos on the subject, told Glamor. “Some people with ADHD also have difficulty with this.”

But if that’s the case, there’s probably no point in bed rot. Before “bed rot,” staying in bed all day was called dysania, and it is a classic symptom of depression and anxiety. It’s also a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: “For someone who is depressed, bedtime sounds like a way to potentially withdraw from others without having social connections,” Lynn Bufka, associate executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, told TODAY.com. “That could happen in the longer term [reinforce] the idea that we cannot cope with whatever we avoid.”

There are also physical problems that bed rot can mask: Raven noted that she had seen people discover thyroid problems or other hormonal issues that contributed to the inability to get out of bed. It goes without saying that ‘doing nothing’ isn’t really a strategy for dealing with these very real physiological problems – and in fact it can make matters worse, as long-term lack of exercise has had damaging effects on the body.

“When blood isn’t pumping constantly, it tends to clot,” Daniel Landau, board-certified in hematology, internal medicine and medical oncology, told TODAY.com. “When we walk or stretch, the muscles along the veins contract and force the blood to move around. If we don’t move, the veins can’t push the blood around.”

Too much of a good thing

Even if bed rot isn’t a symptom of something sinister, there’s still a possibility that it could cause problems that weren’t there before. For example, spending too much time doomscrolling may trigger fears you never had before; isolation from friends and family can cause depression.

But the real danger of bed rot is something much more mundane – and, frankly, an obvious casualty of a practice that requires you to stay in bed all day: it messes with your sleep schedule.

“Bed rot likely disrupts your sleep,” physician assistant and tiktoker @medexplained2you told Glamour, “because the body is naturally conditioned – when it’s in bed – to release certain hormones that tell you to switch off.”

“But if you stay in bed all day and then try to go to bed without ever taking a break, your brain gets confused,” he explained. “It doesn’t know when you want to go to sleep or when you want to stay awake, and chances are you’re going to have an increase[d] risk of insomnia.”

That’s why, if you need to rot, experts suggest you do it somewhere other than your bed. It is also worth making sure that there is a time difference between rotting and dormancy. Basically, anything you can do to separate the bed from rot will be helpful.

The key, as always, is balance. Feel free to rot in bed every now and then, but try not to take it too far and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Just remember to stay at least somewhat active, even on a bed crap day, and seriously consider leaving your bed to do this – you definitely won’t. technically count as bed rotting, but we won’t tell if you don’t.

“Spending a day here and there all month long on bed rot is unlikely to do you any harm – on the contrary,” says Common. But “while rest is important for well-being, exercise is also a powerful tool for maintaining good mental and physical health,” he explained – noting that “it is also important to expend enough energy during the day to fall asleep, and maximize its benefits. that come with a good night’s sleep.”

“As with all things in life, balance is key,” he said. “Ultimately it’s about not being at the extreme ends of the spectrum.”

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Fact-checkers confirm that all ‘explainer’ articles are correct at the time of publication. Text, images and links can be edited, deleted or added at a later time to keep the information current.

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