What is hurkle-durkle? How the trend is teaching people to embrace rest.

A woman in hurkle-durkle mode.
What is hurkle-durkle? (Getty Images)

"Hurkle-durkle" is a term you might not be familiar with. But, according to TikTok, you're likely already hurkle-durkling yourself — and if not, you'll want in on the practice.

The quirky term, which dates back to 19th century Scotland, is something that's taken the internet by storm, thanks to young TikTokers who have discovered, and delighted in, its snoozy meaning. Hurkle-durkle refers to people lying in bed past the time they're meant to get up (think sleeping through the alarm and missing work, or lounging under the covers instead of meeting friends/making that appointment, etc.).

There's no sense of guilt about having a hurkle-durkle. According to TikTok, this lie-in is meant to be embraced. But how does it work, and why is it suddenly so popular? More importantly, what can the trend teach us about prioritizing rest?

Where did 'hurkle-durkle' come from?

While the term has Scottish origins, it's largely fallen out of common usage. TikTok user Kira Kosarin is credited with helping popularize it on social media when she first posted about it as her "word of the day" in early January. "Just thought you guys should know that the Scottish have a word for laying around in bed after it’s time to get up, and it’s called hurkle-durkling," Kosarin says in her post. "I do be hurkling, and I do be durkling and once I’ve hurkled my last durkle in a given morning I will get up, but I’m a big fan of a hurkle-durkle."

The term caught on immediately. Commenters were excited to have a word to fit their occasional morning lie-in, while some even shared that scrolling TikTok is a part of their own hurkle-durkle routine.

Why is hurkle-durkle so popular?

Experts aren't surprised that the idea of a leisurely morning has gained such interest. "In today’s age, the pressure to wake up, get ready and get working can be stressful for many, and there may be a mental and physical benefit to awaking with a slower start," Kristin Wilson, a licensed professional counselor and chief experience officer at Newport Healthcare, a program focused on the mental health of American teens, tells Yahoo Life. "Learning how to use this deviation from the weekday morning hustle and bustle to boost your mood, increase your focus and reset your self-care is key."

Accessible approaches to self-care are generally popular online, according to Shelby Harris, a psychologist, associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis. It helps that something seemingly anti-productivity is celebrated.

"Catchy terms like hurkle-durkle on social media can be fun, creative and give a positive spin on self-care and taking time to treat yourself to something that isn’t necessarily productive," Harris tells Yahoo Life. "It can help build a sense of community online with others who feel the same way about stress relief."

How does hurkle-durkle differ from bed rotting?

Hurkle-durkle isn't the only rest trend that has struck a chord with Gen Z. The term "bed rotting" was just this week added to Dictionary.com, which defines the viral trend as "the practice of spending many hours in bed during the day, often with snacks or an electronic device, as a voluntary retreat from activity or stress." While hurkle-durkle has largely been associated with finding pleasure and enjoyment in rest, bed rotting has been seen as a response to burnout. Some experts have expressed caution that the latter practice could be a red flag if done too frequently.

Speaking to Today.com last October, Dr. Jen Caudle, a family medicine physician and associate professor at Rowan University, said that an occasional break in bed can be a form of self-care, but if it becomes a regular habit or is used to "avoid situations, to avoid feelings," it could be an issue. Experts also told the publication that bed rotting, in the extreme, could disrupt sleep (because you're using your bed for purposes to eat, watch TV, etc., therefore making it more difficult to shut down). Staying in bed all day can also be a tempting, but troubling practice for those with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Harris and Wilson agree that the backlash to bed rotting may signal an inherent conflict that Americans, in particular, have with the concept of rest. “Bed rotting as a whole can reflect the importance placed on productivity in American culture and be rebellious toward the sentiment," says Harris. She notes that the use of the word "rotting" shows "how spending too much time in bed is seen as a bad thing and highlights a possible struggle to value, prioritize and enjoy relaxing when you could be otherwise busy."

Americans, Wilson adds, "are hesitant to celebrate and fully embrace rest and relaxation compared to other cultures." She points to the Spanish siesta and the cozy Danish and Norwegian concept of hygge as international practices that "revolve around the idea of comfort, relaxation and well-being."

What can we learn from hurkle-durkle?

Can this TikTok trend and its funny name help us rediscover rest? Harris, for one, is optimistic — and is quick to highlight the benefits of taking a load off.

"Rest is often overlooked for how incredibly important it is for our bodies and minds," says Harris. "It is an integral part in physical recovery, reducing the negative impact of stress and keeps us productive during the day. It also keeps our immune systems strong and prevents long-term health issues."

Americans, in particular, can reap the rewards of rest, she adds. "Observing how other cultures make it a priority to take breaks and relax can remind us of the importance of making the most of free time, spending time with loved ones and taking things slow sometimes to take care of our mental well-being," Harris says.

"The interest in rebranding comfort and rest on social media platforms reflects a broader shift in counterbalancing the negative effects of a busy lifestyle toward recognizing and embracing the importance of overall well-being," adds Wilson. "It could be that these comfort and rest trends are popular because most all of us have days when we’re tired and just don’t feel like navigating the demands of everyday life.

"Sometimes our bodies just need a break, and we don’t want to feel guilty about taking time to rest," she continues. "Giving this behavior a clever social media name can make it feel more socially acceptable and when it trends and becomes popular, it normalizes the need for relaxation within the community of followers."