Social Media Trend: What is bed rotting?

April 19, 2024

April is Stress Awareness Month and a self-care trend has been making waves on social media: bed rotting. In 2023, over 130 million views were associated with the term bed rotting on TikTok and the content surrounding this trend has only been increasing (Hui, 2023). Primarily Gen Z who feel burnt out from taking classes, working, and engaging in social events find bed rotting to be rejuvenating. But for parents of Gen Zs, the term along with their child’s bedridden behavior might prompt questions. First of all, what is bed rotting? Second, is bed rotting a genuine form of self-care? In this blog, we delve into this social media phenomenon’s positive and negative impacts with insights from Cornerstones of Maine Executive Director, Dr. Eric Beaudoin.


What is bed rotting, and how is it portrayed across social platforms?


Bed rotting involves prolonged periods of staying in bed as a means of stress relief and burnout recovery. However, this extended time in bed is not spent sleeping; rather, it is spent partaking in passive activities like reading, watching TV, and snacking. This YouTube short is a great example of how bed rotting is portrayed on social media. That being said, Dr. Beaudoin urges viewers to take a deeper look. “The video and the content in the caption lead viewers to believe its purpose is to provide support and awareness,” says Dr. Beaudoin. “While it certainly accomplishes a portion of this, viewers should also attune to other messages intentionally or unintentionally conveyed”. First, let’s take a look at the potential positive impacts such as support and awareness. Then, let’s dive into the negative impacts to be mindful of when young people engage in this form of rest. 


Potential Positive Impacts of Bed Rotting:


  1. Stress management
  2. A gateway to healthy coping mechanisms
  3. Destigmatize hustle culture 


Stress management:  It is important to promote rest in the form of relaxation and stress management, not only when your head hits the pillow at night. Bed rotting has the potential to facilitate recovery from burnout, anxiety, and stress if there is an emphasis on balance. Experts suggest instead of bed rotting for an entire day to experiment with setting a time limit. Although bed rotting does not inherently promote moderation, there is meta value in any popularized content that has an intention of helping people take care of themselves. Moreover, the hope is that by partaking in something like bed rotting, young people can find moderation and expand upon their stress management practice over time. 


A gateway to healthy coping mechanisms: When utilized thoughtfully, spending extra time in bed without the intention of sleeping can be seen as a healthy adaptive strategy. There is nothing wrong with sleeping in on your days off or having a lazy Sunday. Adaptive strategies are also known as coping mechanisms, although sometimes these coping mechanisms can become maladaptive over time. Partaking in bedrotting could lead to an individual’s awareness of the need to incorporate additional healthy coping mechanisms such as mindfulness, daily stretching, and healthy sustenance. Still not ready to give up bed rotting? Consider spending your rest time in bed doing scientifically proven mood-boosting activities such as meditating, journaling, or doing some bed yoga.


Destigmatize hustle culture: Regardless of the debatable value of bed rotting, there is value in contributing to the zeitgeist’s focus on reducing capitalistic work culture. At the very least, it adds to our society’s awareness that work is not everything. Productivity does not correlate with an individual’s value or worth. Generation Z folks receive a lot of judgment and preconceived notions from older generations surrounding their “laziness” and work ethic. But perhaps there is more for us to glean from their shift away from traditional careers and an enhanced emphasis on prioritizing their personal time.


Potential Negative Impacts of Bed Rotting:


  1. Increase stress, anxiety, & depression
  2. Avoidance as opposed to rest
  3. Struggling with sleep 


Increase stress, anxiety, & depression: Most social media content portrays bed rotting as spending an entire day in bed. It is important to recognize the threshold where rest transitions from beneficial to detrimental in neurotransmitter cultivation. In other words, we get a dopamine boost from novelty. When the novelty wears off, we don’t get that boost anymore. That applies to resting too. Additionally, young adults experiencing anxiety and depression will most likely find bed rotting appealing, but engaging in minimal activity may only fuel a maladaptive cycle. If bed rotting becomes habitual, stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression can increase. 


Avoidance as opposed to rest: Bed rotting poses the risk of rest turning into avoidance, hindering productivity and personal growth. “Bedrotting is junk food,” Dr. Beaudoin metaphorically shares. “Self-respecting life choices are vegetables. The difference is junk food feels good and isn’t good for you. Vegetables are less immediately satisfying, but help us stay healthy.” Avoiding the pressures of school, work, and relationships can feel good in the moment, especially if you are comfortable in bed with your favorite TV show to help you self-soothe. But finding a balance between resting and still showing up to complete daily tasks and goals is important for overall well-being. 


Struggling with sleep: Clinical associate professor at Stanford, Fiona Barwick, shares that bed rotting directly affects an individual’s sleep health. Staying in bed all day can negatively impact a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, the lack of natural light can dysregulate an individual’s circadian rhythm which in turn affects their sleep drive (Spivack, 2024). Bed rotting can also lead to suppressed and delayed melatonin production. The purpose of a bed is to be a place of rest and our brains use this association as a sleep cue. When a bed is used as a place to stay awake and spend the day, our brains get confused, leading to a dysregulated internal clock and lack of sleep. 


In conclusion, while bed rotting may offer temporary relief, maintaining a balanced approach to self-care remains paramount. However, bed rotting should not be completely discounted, as it serves as an outlet for young people to begin considering the difference between self-care and self-indulgence. As we navigate this trend, Dr. Eric Beaudoin suggests prioritizing mindfulness and moderation, ensuring that our efforts are truly fulfilling and sustainable. Let’s embrace an adaptive lifestyle that nurtures both body and mind.




Hui, A. (2023, July 28). What Is ‘Bed Rotting’? Gen Z’s Newest Self-Care Trend, Explained. Health.


Spivack, E. (2024, March 11). Is ‘Bed rotting’ good or bad for your sleep? Scientific American.