Medically reviewed by
Dacelin St Martin, MD
Triple board-certified in Sleep Medicine,
Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics.
With technology advancing at unprecedented speeds, economies fluctuating more than an unbalanced seesaw, and pandemics threatening our very existence, it’s not unjust to say that life is overwhelming.
As such, most of us are always looking for new ways to recharge our batteries, which, thanks to the rise of social media, is plenty.
However, like with certain ice cream flavors, some TikTok-inspired self-care ideas are questionable and may do you more harm than good.
Two recent viral TikTok trends, bed rotting and carcass time, are questionable and outright baffling.
Despite the intent of these trends being to help alleviate certain aspects of anxiety, doctors have come to a contradictory conclusion.
What is Bed Rotting?
A viral trend exceeding over 220 million views on TikTok, bed rotting, has recently taken the world by storm.
This trend encourages self-care by lying in bed all day, scrolling through social media, binging box sets, snacking, and anything else one may enjoy doing in bed.
The term bed rotting comes from the idea that staying in bed for long periods can cause your muscles and bones to deteriorate or rot.
While this may sound like hyperbole, scientists at NASA have highlighted the truth behind the statement, suggesting that prolonged bed rest can lead to muscle atrophy, bone loss, cardiovascular deconditioning, and metabolic changes.
Bed Rotting and Sleep
Lying in bed for extended periods can cause your mind to associate your bedroom with daytime activities, not sleep. So once your bedtime rolls around, turning your mind off and falling asleep is a no-go, potentially leading to the onset of insomnia.
By reserving your bedroom solely for sleep, your mind clearly understands what to do when you climb into bed, which goes against the basic principles of bed rotting.
Also, screen time can be hazardous for sleep because the blue light emitted from your electronics suppress and block the release of melatonin, the sleepy-time hormone.
What is Carcass Time?
Another TikTok trend that has recently gained popularity is carcass time. It’s a coping mechanism to help manage the day’s stressors, which consists of retreating to your bed, couch, or even the floor to rebuild your energy and reset your thoughts.
The carcass-time trend started with a horse named Squidward, who lays down for a nap after she eats. She naps intently for so long that her owners sometimes wonder if she’s dead.
In other words, it’s a nap, which isn’t necessarily bad, except if you nap for too long (more than 20 minutes) and too late in the day (after 3 pm). We must be sufficiently tired to sleep well at night by building up ‘exhaustion coins,’ which we ‘cash in’ at bedtime.
The technical term, sleep homeostasis, refers to a fundamental principle of sleep regulation. This system ensures that the body compensates for both a deficit and a surplus of sleep.
For instance, when there is a sleep deficit, it triggers a compensatory increase in the intensity and duration of sleep, and conversely, excessive sleep can decrease the propensity for sleep.
Although this trend aims to relax your body and mind by releasing tension or stress, it can interfere with your drive to sleep at night.
Also, lying on the floor, or any surface for that matter, for extended periods can cause pressure sores or ulcers on your skin, especially if you have poor blood circulation or diabetes.
Another negative is that carcass time can make you feel more detached from reality and yourself, which can worsen any existing mental health issues, like depression.
The Health Consequences: Bed Rotting and Carcass Time
Both bed rotting and carcass time are TikTok trends that claim to promote self-care and relaxation.
However, mimicking a behavior commonly attributed to depression and mental illness can negatively affect your mental health.
Individuals who struggle with anxiety and depression may spend more time in bed, which studies have shown can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness.
Likewise, spending too much time in bed can disrupt your circadian rhythm, the natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness that regulates your body clock.
This disruption of your body’s clock can cause insomnia, depression, anxiety, and mood swings, isolating you from social interactions and meaningful activities if not managed. 
These health consequences can affect your well-being, productivity, performance, creativity, and relationships. Therefore, avoiding these trends and finding healthier ways to cope with stress and take care of yourself is crucial.
Healthy Self-Care Trends
Not every self-care routine has to follow a social media trend. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care, and each of us will unwind and relax in different ways, whether you want to read a book and get lost in an alternate reality or head over to the gym to blow off some steam. Below are a couple of our favorite self-care exercises.
1) Build a Routine
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to establish a regular routine that suits your needs and preferences.
A routine can structure your day, prioritize tasks, manage your time, and achieve your goals. It can also help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule, which is vital for your physical and mental health.
Set yourself allocated times for work and rest. More importantly, allow yourself to have the time to live and embrace your friends and loved ones.
We appreciate that getting into a routine can be difficult; hence we recommend using a journal or planner. Use these to record your days and even record your sleep!
2) Enjoy the Outdoors
We spend so much time looking at our screens that we sometimes forget to enjoy mother nature for all it has to offer.
Outdoor exercise can help boost your serotonin levels, making you feel happier and more relaxed. Tiring yourself out by exercising can also help prepare you for a good night’s rest.
3) Practice Mindfulness
Mediating, documenting your feelings, and allowing yourself to be more aware can go a long way in alleviating your stresses and helping you feel relaxed.
There are plenty of self-guided meditations available on various social media and video platforms.
What’s the Takeaway?
While we all enjoy a good lazy day occasionally, glamorizing these behaviors as so-called “trends” can be dangerous, particularly when individuals adopt them under the wrongful misconceptions of their alleged benefits.
Self-care is essential for living a happy and healthy life. Take a mindful approach to self-care so that you don’t jeopardize other aspects of your health while you rest.
- John E. Greenleaf, David T. Quach (2003, January) Recovery After Prolonged Bed-Rest Deconditioning. NASA/TM-2002-211860 https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20030052739/downloads/20030052739.pdf
- Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2018, November 15). Preventing pressure ulcers. InformedHealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK326430/
- Reynold, A. M. (2014, August 8). Negative Effects of Time in Bed Extension: A Pilot Study. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217706/
- Foster, R. G. (2020). Sleep, circadian rhythms and health. Interface Focus, 10(3), 20190098. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2019.0098
- Tobler, I., & Achermann, P. (n.d.). Sleep homeostasis. Scholarpedia. http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Sleep_homeostasis