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"Bed rotting" trend can make depression worse: Chair of Psychiatry for Baltimore hospital system

"Bed rotting" trend can make depression worse
"Bed rotting" trend can make depression worse 03:03

BALTIMORE -- Bed rotting is taking social media by storm. It's a viral TikTok trend that involves spending all day in bed.  Some say it can help cope with stress and anxiety,  but doctors say it can make matters worse. 

A new Tik Tok trend embraces spending hours scrolling social media, binging tv, reading, eating snacks -- all from the comfort of your comforter.

It's called bed rotting – a term popularized by Gen Z on TikTok that means choosing to stay in bed all day as a form of self-care.

Sleep scientist, Vanessa Hill (@braincraft), weighed in on the trend in a TikTok video that now has more than 2.6 million views.

"It's kind of like a rejection of productivity culture by doing nothing and taking the time to rest," said Hill.

"For a lot of people, it can be a kind of stress management so it can help a lot with feelings of overwhelm when you're really stressed about work or whatever you have going on in life," Hill said.

Hill said stress and burnout affect both our mental and physical health, and taking the time to relax can help people recharge. She also said there is a lot of shame associated with rest and the trend – in which people post videos of themselves laying in bed tucked under blankets –  helps normalize it.

"People feel really empowered by this trend," said Hill. "So many of us are tired because we feel pressured to do it all and trends like bed rotting aren't really about just wasting away your days in your bed, they're about allowing yourself to do less and telling ourselves that doing less is okay."

The trend has faced criticism – from the wellness community as well as doctors.

Dr. Rishi Gautam, chair of psychiatry at LifeBridge Health, said, "If not done in moderation, or if not done with awareness of how it might affect us in the long run it can be problematic."

Guatam said clinicians would strongly advise against bed rotting for someone dealing with depression or anxiety.

"Bed rotting frankly can make depression worse, it can foster avoidance, which is a condition seen in anxiety, it can worsen overall health by increasing risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, it can impact or impair functioning," said Guatam.

Guatam said lying in bed all day makes it harder to get quality, restful sleep at night. Hill agreed that too much bed rotting can disrupt healthy sleep patterns.

Instead of rotting in bed, Gautam recommends healthier ways to get out of a rut:

  • Focusing on getting quality sleep at night
  • Daily exercise
  • Healthy nutrition/diet
  • Strive for 20 minutes of mindfulness a day (meditation, journaling, yoga)

Guatam said it's okay to slow down for a day once in a while if you're really exhausted. But if bed rotting becomes a barrier to living a full life or taking care of daily responsibilities – it might be a sign to seek help. Guatam said to pay attention to whether bed rotting is worsening sleep, depression or lack of motivation.

"If I find myself needing more and more of this, it is a good reliable sign that there might be some other problems going on," said Guatam.

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