(NEXSTAR) – It may sound like a painful medical condition, but the TikTok trend of “bed rotting” is actually a form of self care, some claim. The practice involves spending the day in bed, scrolling through social media, binge-streaming one’s favorite shows, sleeping or doing other relaxing activities.
“Younger generations are really embracing this concept of soft living, being able to live a more stress-free life,” according to one TikTok video, which shows a young woman in a gray sweater lying in bed, a calico cat kneading her back. “It’s time with yourself and your loved ones in bed and it’s intentional. So we’re definitely for it.”
At least one sleep scientist is fully on board. “There’s a new trend called bed rotting, and it’s actually perfect,” PhD candidate Vanessa Hill said in a TikTok video. “Bed rotting is when they do literally nothing but lay in bed. It’s the end of optimization, and anti-productivity because you are wasting away under a blanket and the nothingness is your best life. I’m a sleep scientist who fact-checks a lot of trends, and I’m here to tell you that bed rotting is 100% backed by science.”
Other experts say the practice is more complicated than that, however. “‘Bed rotting’ can become a problem if you are doing it in the context to avoid something, or you feel like you are not physically or emotionally able to get out of bed,” Emily Mudd, PhD, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said in a statement. “For example, if you’re staying in bed because you’re anxious about something or you’re doing it to avoid social interactions.”
Mudd recognized that feeling seemingly endless pressure to be productive can overwhelm people, especially kids, and said that it can be a good thing to take a day off to rest one’s body and mind. Using bed rotting as the first solution to cope with something in life, however, can lead to social isolation which is a risk factor for depression and anxiety, Mudd said.
“If you’re a parent and your child has been spending significant periods of time in bed, that is a raise for concern,” Dr. Mudd said. “Children have social, developmental and emotional needs that cannot be met by being solitary in bed. They have activity-based needs, like being with peers and academic learning. Although rest is important, these activities are crucial for social, emotional and cognitive development.”
Parents who think their children are showing symptoms of a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety are encouraged to get help from a medical professional.