We’ve all had those days when productivity just isn’t in sight. Whether it’s the culmination of a few hard days at the office or a can’t-miss football schedule, having a day to yourself with no tasks to do is nothing new for most individuals.
But would you believe that the art of doing nothing is actually gaining some momentum on social media? Yes, being unproductive for hours and even days is the latest trend on TikTok, aptly named “bed rot.”
This trend is rooted in the idea of self-care and recharging your internal batteries after burning out, but would you really lying in bed for better mental health? In this case, science is going against the trend.
Despite its popularity among Gen Z on social media, many experts believe that bed rotting is counterproductive in terms of improving well-being. We spoke with Dr. Raj Dasgupta, Chief Medical Advisor at Sleepopolis, a website dedicated to comprehensive information about the sleep industry, to better understand this new way to recharge—and why it might do more harm than good in the long run.
What is bed rot?
According to Dr. Dasgupta, bed rot involves staying in bed for an extended period of time to replenish your energy stores. Instead of sleeping during these periods, bed rot involves passive activities such as scrolling through social media, eating an appealing snack, or enjoying watching your favorite TV series.
“To put it ultrasimplified, my short answer is, literally, lying in bed and, unfortunately, unproductive,” he says.
While it may be tempting to relax without a care in the world, Dr. Dasgupta warns that what you see on social media may not be the absolute truth in practice. Of course, it makes sense to give your body and mind a chance to recover after strenuous activity, but lying prone for this length of time, essentially avoiding any external stressors, can be damaging to your psyche, especially for those suffering from more serious issues.
“TikTok somehow has a way of making laziness seem very fashionable, and I’m afraid of these things because it’s the opposite of what I want someone with depression to do,” says Dr. Gasgupta. “I want them to get help, I want them to get out and get sunlight, I want them to get out and eat well – not just in bed.”
Why rotting your bed isn’t great for self-care
Bed rot creates an unhealthy bond between you and your bed
According to Dr. Dasgupta, lying in bed without sleep is a recipe for disaster. Your bed and sleeping schedule should be reserved for just that – sleeping. Associating mattresses, pillows, and sheets with passive bed-rotting activities can trick your brain into staying awake when you start to get comfortable, making it harder to fall asleep when you’re not practicing modern discipline.
“We call it stimulus control,” says Dr. Dasgupta. “You don’t want to start going to bed [while] your mind and body are thinking, ‘Oh, it’s time for social media, it’s time to watch TV, it’s time to eat.’ The bed should be associated only with sleep.”
This doesn’t mean you can’t curl up in bed for a while or watch the occasional movie in the comfort of your duvet. The important thing to remember, according to Dr. Dasgupta, is moderation.
“There are definitely people who just want to watch something in bed or have a little ‘you time,'” he says. “That’s not the target audience we’re thinking about there.” We think about individuals who feel they have to be alone, and suddenly this could be the first sign of depression that you don’t address.
Bed rot can compromise the quality of your sleep
Related to disconnecting from your bed and sleep, bed rot can also rob you of quality time in dreamland. The balance of quality and quantity of sleep is vital to your overall health, and the risks outweigh the rewards of trying to adopt a practice that potentially throws off that relationship.
“Less quantity and quality of sleep will only worsen any underlying health condition, both mental and physical,” says Dasgupta. “The hardest part is that you never know who is going to be predisposed to develop a very chronic case of insomnia because everyone is different and so you don’t want to put yourself at risk.” Sleep and many of these mental health conditions are strongly linked.”
Rotting beds can mask more serious problems
Seeing influencers praise this lethargic remedy for mental burnout may seem like a simple solution to stress, but like all self-help disciplines, you must understand that individual problems require a personalized approach. Making the bed can be a quick fix for recovery if done suddenly, but if you’re harboring more serious issues like depression and anxiety, it could become a crutch that only exacerbates your problems over time.
Dr. Dasgupta recommends talking to your doctor before trying to rot in bed. This can help identify underlying issues with the support of a professional, as well as give you a more concrete understanding of what you are really trying to achieve with this discipline.
“It’s very important to always think about the root cause and how this is a solution to what you need to do and what the alternatives are,” he says.
What to do instead of rotting the bed
Instead of using your bed and sleep for unproductive activities, Dr. Dasgupta says investing in sleep hygiene can be a great way to promote better self-care. These factors are not usually present in bed rot, so by going about your routine instead of relying on the Trending page, you could be setting yourself up for future success and better health.
“When we talk about sleep hygiene in general, we’re talking about some general tips that everyone could benefit from,” he says. “Sleep is individualized, but the room should be on the quieter side, the cooler, darker side.” I think we could all benefit from putting some technology away. If you drink caffeine, you might consider cutting back and not drinking it later in the day.
Want to improve your sleep hygiene with a more comfortable, pleasant, Zzz-inducing vibe? Below are a few items we recommend for creating a proper setup:
Gravity Weighted Blanket
Soft and plush, this impressive blanket can create that soothing aesthetic of your dreams (pun intended). Weight options range from 15 to 35 pounds, so there’s plenty of comfort to spend, too. Just be sure to follow the instructions for proper care – the interior is hand-washable only.
Casper foam pillow with snow technology
Creating a cool environment around your noggin can be great for catching some Zzz’s, and this soft, comfortable profile from Casper does just that. HeatDelete Bands help draw heat away from your body, so the ultimate level of comfort extends throughout the night.
Umizato Blue Blocker Glasses
if you must scroll through social media before bed, be sure to take care of your eyes in the process (and set a time limit for yourself). These blue light blockers from Umizato can filter out up to 90% of blue light, and the different magnifications also allow for better and easier reading conditions.
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