Bed-Rotting as a productivity hack

Bed-Rotting as a Productivity Hack

Discover how the counterintuitive practice of bed-rotting can significantly enhance your productivity.

Bed-rotting is not something I ever would have considered as a productivity hack. I wasn’t even aware of the term until this past year. 

Maybe it’s counterintuitive. Maybe it’s because it’s been drilled into me since I was a child that staying in bed for too long means I’m lazy.

There’s a lot of unlearning to do.

For most of my life, I’ve been told to get out of bed early, rise and shine, don’t sleep away my life. Now, I wonder what drove those people to say those things to me because I never wanted to sleep away my life and, unless I was ill, I rarely slept more than 8 hours. 

As a child, I went to bed after 11 PM, just after the nightly news went off when my parents went to bed, and woke usually before sunrise for school. 

As a teen, I frequently made do with four to five hours of sleep, usually because I was unable to fall asleep until well after midnight and still had to be on a schoolbus by 7 AM or earlier.

In college, I survived off about 4 hours of sleep. Every night. No naps during the day. I worked 1 and sometimes 2 part-time jobs while taking around—no kidding—8 different classes, a workload that required special permission from the dean. I was on a scholarship and trying to pack what amounted to a triple major into a normal college schedule. I also had a social life, and yes, like most 21-year-olds, I ignored my lack of sleep and muttered something pithy like “Time enough to sleep in the grave.”

We always live in the present, don’t we?  More than we realize until the future has become our present.

As a young wife and mother, it didn’t get any better. I had a full-time career that initially required working 60 hours a week, and later, 80 hours a week. I always had 1 or 2 side jobs going or books I was writing. I tried to figure out how to transition to a less stressful career, but that didn’t happen right away. 

I survived for about 3 decades off 4-5 hours of sleep a night, believing that I didn’t need as much sleep as other people did, but that wasn’t true. I still needed as much sleep, but I couldn’t manage to get it. Someone had to look after the babies. 

Spoiler alert: it’s the caretaker who is awake or forces themselves to be awake to keep their children safe. 

At this point in my life, I have now been retired from one career for a whole 2 months and working on the other career whenever and whatever hours of the day—or night—I choose.

This is where things have gotten interesting as far as my productivity and health. I’m now regularly getting twice as much sleep as I have for my entire adult life, teen years, and even my childhood. If I look for the average, it’s not quite twice as much, but significantly more. I no longer set an alarm and wake when my body tells me to. That’s usually 6.5 to 7 hours. I may also nap for 20 to 90 minutes later in the day, too.

The latest discovery has been the difference it makes to participate in bed-rotting. Now I wake up, glance at the clock, and see that I’ve slept, say, 6 hours. Instead of leaping out of bed, frantic to get my workday started, I now tell myself, “No, I haven’t had enough sleep.” I force myself to snuggle back down into the covers. 

That may sound easy, and physically it always is, but psychologically, not so much. 

I allow myself to sleep some more, maybe another hour, maybe 2, maybe more. If I find that I can no longer sleep, then I will meditate, nap, let my mind work out my schedule for the day, and simply enjoy the paradise of sinking down into my mattress without it empty and still being warm when I log into my laptop and wolf down breakfast to make an 8 AM meeting.

There’s still that little voice inside my head that insists I’m being lazy and should get out of bed, but I can’t deny the physical, mental, and emotional benefits from bed-rotting.

Physical Benefits

Physically, I’m getting more sleep and more recovery. That means I’m more energetic when I wake, and I find that I’m able to be more physically productive throughout the day.

Mental Benefits

Mentally, I’m better rested and always have my entire day planned out. There’s always been something for me about twilight sleep where my brain is able to work through some of my best ideas.

Emotional Benefits

Emotionally, the extra sleep helps me to feel calmer and less stressed. I’m generally happier throughout the day, with more emotional reserves to handle any problems that arise, as well as an increase in physical and mental reserves. 

When I say that I’m bed rotting, I don’t mean that I’m spending 20 hours out of 24 in bed. Although… that would be funny to flip it from the way it has been my entire life when I spent 4 hours sleeping and the other 20 being productive. No, I mean I’m spending 8 to 10 hours in bed with most of that in light, deep, or REM sleep, and more deep and REM than any time since I’ve been tracking it. In any case, when I do get out of bed, I have “excess hours” of sleep I’ve never had before.

The one thing I never expected was the extra boost in productivity I get from a few hours of what feels like unnecessary sleep, but obviously, it isn’t now, and it never has been. Whether that’s the true meaning of bed-rotting, I’m not sure, but it works for me when I need to prioritize sleep.

Who knew?  Bed-rotting is the productivity hack I didn’t know I needed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *