Nothing beats laying in bed, cozying up under the blankets, and reading a book with some green tea on a rainy day. Taking a mental health break from work and the world at large can be soothing and refreshing, helping you re-set with a calmer, less-stressed mindset.
But a viral trend aims to remove shame and guilt from being the type of person who does almost everything in bed — WFH, eating meals, crafting, and of course, watching TV and pursuing social media. A new so-called identity labeled “bed person,” meaning someone who loves their bed and prefers to do as much as possible from it, may seem appealing, but it’s crucial to know when this lifestyle points to issues that might need medical or mental health attention.
“If you’re staying in bed all day because of chronic fatigue or other health issues causing generalized weakness, that is understandable. Barring that, I don’t think becoming a ‘bed person’ is the right choice for one’s health for many reasons,” warns Dr. David Rosen, a board-certified sleep medicine physician who goes by TheTikTokSleepDoc on TikTok and CEO of sleep apnea care platform, Renuma.
Learn more about the potential benefits and downsides of living your life between the sheets, according to experts.
Benefits of Spending Time in Bed
“Packed schedules and being busy feels productive, and many people live their lives with a long to-do list and are constantly on the go,” says Reena B. Patel, Positive Psychologist and Licensed Educational Board Certified Behavior Analyst. “This can be rewarding; however, there comes a time when you have to reset, a time to do nothing and let your mind and body relax,” she adds.
Patel stresses the importance of honoring your health and well-being with relaxation so you can return to your usual busy schedule after a proper reset. “Spending extra time in bed can do just that; it’s important to give yourself this time before it’s overdue,” she says. You will hit a wall and crave downtime if you run at full capacity for extended periods with a break.
“It’s important to allow yourself space to do that before burnout hits,” advises Patel. Staying in bed for leisure activities such as reading, sleep meditation, listening to music, and resting your body are ways to reset the body and mind, according to Patel.
Being a “Bed Person” May Prevent Good Sleep Hygiene
While it isn’t wrong to spend a day here and there relaxing in bed, spending extended hours in bed can pose significant challenges to our sleep hygiene and overall wellness, according to Dr. Patrick Porter, Neuroscience Expert, Creator, and CEO of BrainTap. “The key here lies in understanding how our brain operates—it thrives on clear environmental cues. So, when we blur the lines by eating, working, or binge-watching our favorite show from bed, we risk confusing these cues,” says Porter.
Dr. Rosen explains that human minds have a strong capacity to make mental associations with a surrounding environment without even realizing it, such as a baby crying when they see the doctor after a previous vaccine visit. “If you’re doing work and other potentially stressful activities in your bedroom, your mind may associate the bedroom with stress,” Rosen says.
So, using your bed for daily tasks or stressful activities could lead your brain to associate the bed with wakefulness, which could, in turn, pave the way to issues like insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Moreover, being sedentary in your bed all day can interfere with your sleep on a physiological level, according to Porter. “Our bodies are designed for movement and physical activity—such activity is instrumental in promoting better sleep as it helps to exhaust the body and regulate our internal clocks,” he explains.
Spending Too Much Time in Bed Can Compromise Health
In addition to disrupting sleep hygiene, doing everything in bed might also compromise physical health.” When we stay in bed for prolonged periods without engaging in substantial physical activity, we embrace a sedentary lifestyle,” explains Porter. According to well-established research, this lifestyle can increase the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular ailments, and all-cause mortality.
Eating in bed, another aspect of being a “bed person,” can lead to digestive issues such as gastric reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating, and heartburn, and even potentially encourage unhealthy eating habits.
Patel notes that replacing productive times with being in bed creates new ingrained habits that are not as healthy. “These habits start impacting health and wellness in other areas, such as poor eating, getting enough sunshine and vitamin D, and socializing,” she says.
“Granted, some people may sleep great despite being a ‘bed person,’ and an increased risk of a problem is not a guarantee of a problem, but the concern of muscle health and even bone health remains,” points out Rosen. Indeed, you need to bear weight to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
Better Ways to Be a Bed Person
When someone wishes to or needs to spend a considerable amount of time in bed, there are ways to do so that won’t disrupt sleep or overall health. According to Porter, who provides the following advice, it’s all about strategic approach and moderation.
- Maintain your bed as a space for rest. This aids your brain in maintaining an essential association with relaxation in bed. Differentiate your activities and use your bed predominantly for sleep and intimacy.
- Create screen limitations. Excessive screen time, especially before bed, can interfere with your sleep cycle due to the light emitted. If using screens in bed is unavoidable, consider employing a blue light filter to mitigate its impact on your sleep.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Aiming to maintain consistent sleep and wake times can be beneficial. This practice supports your body’s internal clock and fosters quality sleep.
- Stay as active as you are able. Even when bed-bound, keeping some level of physical activity is beneficial. Gentle exercises that can be performed in bed can help in this context.
When Being a “Bed Person” Signifies Something More
“Staying in bed can be a sign of depression,” warns Patel. “You can get in your thoughts and feel like you should be doing something else or beat yourself up a bit internally, saying you feel lazy and unproductive by pushing off your to-do list when your brain is still thinking about it,” she says.
Watching for a loss of social connections and a desire to be outside is crucial. These feelings can signify depression or other mental health issues that will likely worsen if not addressed, according to Patel. “It’s important to get outside where there is a natural mood boost to help with mental wellness,” she says.
If you are concerned that your or a loved one’s desire to stay in bed all day might mean something more serious for wellbeing, immediately contact a healthcare provider. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
Rosen, David. Author interview. June 2023.
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Porter, Patrick. Author interview. June 2023.
Patel, Reena B. Author interview. June 2023.