BTS’s eldest vocalist Kim Seok-jin, popularly known as Jin, once said that resting should be entirely ‘selfish’. “A lot of people try to do something useful in their free time, something that will help them pad out their resume,” he had said. “But I believe that uselessness will be useful. I believe that you need to have days that others consider wasteful, to be able to focus on more useful things later.”
The eldest member from the boy band that’s nothing less than a global sensation, was a strong advocate of ‘lazy’ days, prior to his military enlistment in December. It helped him commit to his exhaustive work routine. As he says, “I bend my knees, only to jump higher.”
Jin didn’t quite foresee the concept of ‘bed-rotting’ that emerged as a TikTok fad, opening up to much debate. Strands of Jin’s philosophy echo in the latest Gen Z, another phrase in the ever-expanding TikTok landscape. Bed-rotting sounds abhorrent, but it simply means just lying around in bed as a form of self-care, binging on comfort food and watching Netflix. TikTokers claim that ‘rotting in their beds’ for a certain amount of time without any guilt, helps them center themselves. Many #bedrot advocates hailed it as a ‘hobby’, ‘passion’ and some form of will-power booster.
The non-Gen Z and millennials are perplexed that lying in bed is actually a trend and even has a name, a rather unsightly one that too. “Gen Z and their terms. I call this Sunday,” says Angelo De Guzman, a 31-year-old Filipino marketing and communications manager based in Dubai. He finds it fascinating how a form of relaxation has actually become a subject for TikTok. “Sometimes we all need that guilt-free day to indulge in relaxation, binge-watch our favourite shows, and enjoy comfort food. It's a form of self-care that happens naturally. No trend is needed,” he says.
Guzman emphasises that it isn’t laziness, as taking a break allows one to recharge themselves. “It helps in productivity, re-energising, clearing our minds, and finding balance. It’s a way to prioritise self-care, and enhance overall productivity,” he adds.
Sometimes we all need that guilt-free day to indulge in relaxation, binge-watch our favourite shows, and enjoy comfort food. It's a form of self-care that happens naturally.
Forty-year-old Ipshita Sharma, an Indian freelance journalist based in Dubai echoes these sentiments and says, “Bed-rotting? I call that an ideal time off. It’s the best way to recharge social batteries.” Bed-rotting is what many would call ‘duvet days’. Forty-nine year old Nicola Ellegaard, a Danish UAE-based PR consultant, enjoys her sleep-in days and is rather confused about the whole trend. “I just bought a weighted blanket and a buck-wheat pillow. Now I wonder what segment I am in,” she says, adding that both help her refuel and relax between busy workdays.
The pushback from the older generation
The older generation doesn’t agree.
To be honest, my parents never agreed with the idea of just lounging around in bed and watching television for the whole day. It was a sign of an unfocused and distracted mind, or ‘drifting’ as they called it. There was always something to do. If you’re upset, go for a walk or jog. Read, or write something, my father would always advise. Just sleeping the day away was a waste.
It’s only when I was in mid-twenties that I did discover the joy of sleeping through weekends after a stressful week.
Yet, most of the older generation still tends to perceive this form of relaxation as laziness. “No one from Gen X is able to concentrate on anything that does not have a screen for longer than about 20 seconds,” says 67-year-old Fraser Martin, a general manager based in Dubai, addressing the TikTok fad. “A good manager needs about 20 minutes each day with his feet on the desk, looking at a wall. It empties the mind of clutter and allows ideas to bubble to the surface. If you are going to do that, all day in bed, you will quickly become unemployable as there is no stimulus,” he feels.
Dubai-based life coach Cassie Mather-Reid tries to reason out the differences between the generational understanding of rest. “I don’t think rest was an option for the earlier generation. They were told that they needed to keep working,” she says, adding that this idea had been passed down to them as well. They internalised it. Rest was misconstrued as a form of avoiding work, or just being lazy. “They were made to believe that you can get anywhere in life, is by working really hard,” acknowledges Reid. We all carry those expectations, she says.
I don’t think rest was an option for the earlier generation. They were told that they needed to keep working. They were made to believe that you can get anywhere in life, is by working really hard...
It’s important to understand that the concept of "bed-rotting" may be viewed differently across generations and culture, says Nesma Luqman, a clinical psychologist at Priory Well-being center in Abu Dhabi. “For example, in some cultures, taking a midday nap is considered a healthy part of daily life, while in others, it may be seen as a sign of laziness. It's important to avoid judging others based on our own beliefs and values and to respect the diversity of perspectives on this topic,” she says.
When bed-rotting is a cause for worry, and when it isn’t
People engage in bed-rotting for different reasons. If you have nothing on your schedule, and you told yourself that you just want to relax for a couple of hours on the weekend, that’s fine, explains clinical psychologist Aida Suhaimi, at Camali Clinic, Medcare Medical Centre Jumeirah. “If you just want that extra two hours in bed, that is alright. Basically, giving yourself time to lounge and relax and changing up the routine, it is beneficial.” There’s nothing wrong with just taking time off; that’s the kind of leisure we want, says Suhaimi.
However, you need to ensure that this bed-rotting isn’t taking away from your productivity time and work schedules. Are you avoiding work by not going into office and just lying in bed? “It becomes a problem, if you’ve got nothing else going on in your life,” explains Reid.
Relaxing in bed is a healthy form of revitalising yourself. However, if staying in bed just becomes a chronic fixture, one needs to re-examine themselves, seek help and understand what is going wrong. Some do it as a form of avoidance or self-sabotage, which is harmful for them. Others do it to cope with stress or anxiety, which is only a short-term solution. On the flipside, it can emerge as a larger problem as people just dwell in their anxiety while lying in bed, refusing to do anything else.
Rotting in bed can have both positive and negative connotations, depending on the context and frequency. Luqman says, “While the occasional ‘bed-rotting’ can be healthy for mental well-being, excessive inactivity can be detrimental. It becomes problematic, when it interferes with daily functioning, responsibilities and goals. Excessive bed-rotting can also contribute to mental health issues such as depression, social isolation, and decreased motivation.”
While the occasional ‘bed-rotting’ can be healthy for mental well-being, excessive inactivity can be detrimental. It becomes problematic, when it interferes with daily functioning, responsibilities and goals. Excessive bed-rotting can also contribute to mental health issues such as depression, social isolation, and decreased motivation.
Moreover, continuous ‘bed-rotting’ can limit exercise, along with social interactions, says Saman Khan, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Aspris Wellbeing Centre, Dubai. “If we don’t use our joints and muscles, it can have long term consequences on our physical health too,” she explains. “Exercise also promotes growth and the release of endorphins which are our ‘happy hormones’. Acknowledging that lying in bed can have its relaxing benefits as young people face much social and academic pressure, she warns, “It should only form one part of a comprehensive self-care routine for young people.”
Don’t disrupt your sleep hygiene
Our brains are wired to associate the bed with sleep and rest. When that gets continuously disrupted, we have a problem.
Suhaimi mentions the importance of good sleep hygiene, which is associated with the bed, itself. “It becomes a problem when you keep using the bed for matters other than sleep. You have your laptop, phone and other gadgets on the bed with your food. Once you associate the bed with all these gadgets other than sleep, it stimulates your brain and affects your sleep patterns. So, if you just want to lounge around somewhere else like in the living room or the couch, that’s better. It doesn’t disrupt your sleep hygiene,” she says.
It becomes a problem when you keep using the bed for matters other than sleep. You have your laptop, phone and other gadgets on the bed with your food. Once you associate the bed with all these gadgets other than sleep, it stimulates your brain and affects your sleep patterns.
It’s not just about moderation, you need to understand the meaning behind it. “If you think that you are doing this for your self-care, great, but you can have that self-care outside the bed. You can still binge Netflix or have your pizza, but don’t associate it with the bed. The more you do this, the more it affects your sleep patterns,” warns Suhaimi.
A holistic understanding of well-being
There has been a shift in mindset in the last few decades. Self-care has changed its meaning multiple times over the centuries, says Letizia Cardelli, a psychologist at the Dubai-based German Neuroscience center. "Over the past decades, well-being practices have evolved, coming to include everything from aesthetic treatments, solo travelling, especially over a career break and psychotherapy or counselling," she says.
Now, there’s more focus on the work-life balance, self-care and more discussions on well-being, explains Suhaimi. “I think people are now focused on making time for themselves, and making time away from work. They could go for job interviews and see what the company will offer them in terms of leisure. They want to see how job opportunities support their work-life balance. They have realised that they work a certain amount, and need the same amount of leisure too,” she adds.
The younger population is always connected, online and in a rush to accomplish their goals. In their attempt to find renewed meaning, self-care can be seen as taking a rest from certain stimuli. It requires mental energy to differentiate between all the relevant and irrelevant information they're bombarded with
Social media has also contributed to the discourse, as people have new platforms to discuss well-being and self-care. However, there needs to be a more holistic approach to well-being. “There can be misrepresentations of ideas of well-being on social media. Well-being is a holistic view of your health. It could be physical, social, occupational and psychological. Everything is well-being. But if you just say, ‘Oh I need to do self-care’, that’s fair, but check, are you isolating yourself by just staying in bed and not going out to meet anyone,” says Suhaimi.
You can sit and binge fast food, but are you taking care of your physical health? How healthy is this kind of food for you? If you’re just focusing on just one part of self-care and not anything else, that’s not well-being. “That’s a misrepresentation. Well-being includes all aspects of your life,” she says. It is essential that people find a balance between personal downtime and activities that promote personal growth, social connections, and a sense of purpose, says Luqman.
Moreover, Cardelli explains why the younger generation has the constant need to pursue self-care. She adds that that the younger population is constantly connected, always online and in a rush to accomplish their goals. "As a result, they're unable to focus on a conversation for long and are trying to achieve their next objective. In their attempt to find renewed meaning, self-care can be seen as taking a rest from certain stimuli. "It requires mental energy to differentiate between all the relevant and irrelevant information they're bombarded with," she adds. Hence, they feel exhausted and frequently disconnect the brain from any form of deep thinking, self-reflection, social activities and actual goal-setting, which they actually do need to engage in, if they don't want to enter the same exhaustive cycle again.