Could Bed Rotting Be The Answer To Your Self-Care Struggles?

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Wellness

New Age, TikTok wellness trends will have you believe that everything your parents taught you about waking up early daily and making your bed is as irrelevant and outdated as a feature phone. Take for instance the latest fad: bed rotting (the tag has garnered more than 2 billion views on TikTok)!

Ever had those weekend episodes where your eyes are wide awake (yay, new day!), but your body tells you that it doesn’t feel like leaving the bed. So, you end up eating, reading, catching on the latest season of Love Is Blind, taking calls, mindlessly browsing the rabbit hole that is the ‘net – all from comfort of your bed! Yep, you may have done this a couple of times already but thanks to GenZers redefining life as we’ve always known it via TikTok, the trend now has a phrase. What you call being consciously unproductive your grandmother may call pure laziness – but however you see it, let’s delve deeper into what ‘bed rotting’ a.k.a. ‘much-deserved rest’ entails – and how to do it right!

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What You Do In Bed Matters

Granting yourself a lazy day every once in a while is purely warranted and is no new concept. However, equally important is knowing when bed rotting is totally healthy and when it’s feeding into your existing mental health issues. “If, for instance, you’re already struggling with basic day-to-day functions and you’d rather sleep than face certain emotions head-on, sleeping or spending more time in bed could signal depression and other mood disorders,” explains counselling psychologist Selloane Molalogi-Makau, adding that if you’re constantly feeling lethargic and feel safer spending time in bed than anywhere else, perhaps it’s time to seek professional help.

If, however, there is nothing alarming about your behaviour and you function just as well when you’re not cooped up in bed, Molalogi-Makau, suggests setting time limits to how much time you’re going to spend ‘bed rotting’ could be a good idea. For instance, are you going to use that time catching up on to-do list items that you didn’t get to in the week or are you immersed in a book whose storyline literally transports you to another world?

“Just be careful not to indulge in anything that could upset you, stress you out or make you feel like your bed is safer than being out there in the world,” warns Molalogi-Makau.

A February 2023 study by the University of Bath found that “long-term inactivity significantly increases blood sugar levels even if you reduce your food intake to avoid gaining weight.” While another pilot study published in the National Library of Medicine found that there was a correlation between “sleeping or lying in bed all day and an increased risk of stress and depression, systemic inflammation and other psychological and cardiovascular ailments.”

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Bed Rotting Done Right?

Durban-based psychologist Lindani Mnyaka believes that there’s nothing sinister with bed rotting – provided it’s done once in a blue moon, as opposed to regularly. He does, however, add that nothing adds meaning to our lives such as kicking that duvet cover and being up and about creating a life of meaning. He also highlights the importance of constantly checking in one’s mental health state, so as to avoid sinking into a mood disorder without being aware of it.

Changing your sleep schedule drastically ultimately does more harm than good for your mental and physical health, says Mnyaka. Per a 2019 Harvard Health report, “too much sleep can lead to too little energy.” Why is that? “Because it appears that any significant deviation from normal sleep patterns can upset the body’s rhythms and increase daytime fatigue,” according to the report. That said, Mnyaka agrees with Molalogi-Makau re: setting a limit to how much time time you’re going to spend in bed, as well as mapping out exactly what you’ll be doing.

Among some of the activities he suggests are reading, watching a series, colouring in, sewing in buttons (time to own a sewing kit!) or a catch-up video call with a loved one. “It’s also very important to mention that just because a health trend has attracted billions of views doesn’t necessarily make it a healthy solution. People really need to start scrutinising

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A Problematic Title, Maybe?

Perhaps worth asking is – why is resting referred to as rotting, when the former is actually a good thing (and especially when self-care/resting comes in many forms? What’s self-care to one person may not work for another individual and such is the case with many subjective practises. TikTokers are probably rolling their eyes this very minute and thinking – what’s in a name, anyway? If there’s anything that we should take away from the bed rotting trend, it’s that aimless and unplanned rest – especially in a culture that praises busyness over relaxation – is completely healthy and okay. We’re allowed to take care of ourselves, the best way we know how.

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