A peaceful environment is one of the most important requirements for sleep quality. Unfortunately, getting a peaceful, undisturbed environment is a difficult task in today’s modern world. One of the biggest enemies of sleep today is the need to remain connected and be in-the-know all the time. Easy access to the internet, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and the rise of Netflix have made it harder for sleep to come and stay. Sleep loves attention; it loves peace and quiet; when it finds you fiddling with your smartphone in bed or staring at another episode of Game of Thrones while eating crackers in bed, it decides to leave.
Electronics have invaded our lives and our homes. Even till a few years ago, electronics world limited to the TV, the music system and the computer. But now, with smart televisions smart home systems, there is no end to the number of electronics we are surrounded by at a given time. We have even started to run the house with help from the digital assistant called Alexa. There is no part of our lives untouched by electronics, and sleep does not take it well.
If sleep were a person, it would be most offended by a TV in the bedroom. Imagine walking into a room to find the love of your life lost in the television while you try hard to get some attention and make conversation. Doesn’t it make you feel bad? It’s the same with sleep. When you’re watching television instead of inviting sleep into your bedroom, you are shooing sleep out of your life. And beware, if sleep leaves you, it spells serious trouble.
As if bingeing on Netflix shows isn’t bad enough, keeping a TV in the bedroom just makes it a whole lot worse. There was a time when one household had only a single TV, and the entire family sat together to watch their favorite shows at a certain time every day. These days, people want the TV all to themselves. So, there’s a TV in the living room, one in the master bedroom, and another in the kid’s bedroom. No one watches the same thing at the same time either. Mom watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 6, the kids watch SpongeBob SquarePants at 7, and dad watches ESPN at 10. If grandpa comes to visit, he demands the TV be all his when it’s time for Breaking Bad.
Preparing Your Bedroom for Sleep
There have been several studies that prove that environmental factors are a leading cause behind sleep disorders and deprivation. And the bedroom tops the list. Sleep is intrinsically associated with the bedroom; we do not associate sleep with the living room or the dining room or the kitchen. That is why the bedroom should have the right environment for inducing sleep.
Alas, not many people seem to follow this because putting a TV in the bedroom has become the norm. The TV has almost become like a piece of bedroom furniture. Ideally, it should belong to the music system somewhere in the corner of the living room, but many people prefer a TV in the bedroom even when there is one in some other room.
Why is this not the right thing to do? There are two most important reasons. The first one is that rooms serve purposes. Would you think of eating dinner in the bathroom or taking a shower in the kitchen? No, because these rooms are not meant for those purposes. Why then should the TV be placed in the bedroom instead of the living room or the entertainment room?
When we watch TV in bed, our brains get confused. It fails to understand if the bedroom is meant for watching TV and staying awake till late or if it is meant for switching off and going to sleep. This is how the dissociation between sleep and the bedroom develops. The brain does not associate the bedroom with sleep anymore when you keep watching TV there instead of sleeping. Therefore, even when you try to fall asleep in your bed, it does not happen, because the brain still associates the bedroom with staying awake.
The second reason is that exposing yourself to bright lights before going to bed disrupts the melatonin production and delays onset of sleep. Watching TV, working on the laptop, or texting on your smartphone within two hours of bedtime lowers the melatonin produced by the brain and makes you less sleepy. Melatonin production is always hindered by any kind of bright light and the light reflected from electronic devices is the worst. By constantly exposing yourself to the television at bedtime you are significantly affecting the melatonin production in the brain. Even if you stop watching television in bed, it takes a long time for the melatonin levels to return to normal.
Reasons for Not Having A TV In the Bedroom
There is more than one reason to not have the television in the bedroom. In fact, the bedroom should not have anything that’s not associated with sleep. People build a workstation right in their bedrooms– but it is only a signal for the brain to think that a bedroom is a place of high energy activity.
Having a TV in the bedroom also affects our relationships and our physical and emotional health. The following are only a few of the reasons why the TV does not belong in the bedroom:
It Affects Sex Life: When both partners watch TV in bed, it lowers the amount of sex you’d be normally having to half. When couples don’t have regular sex, it distances them physically and emotionally.
It Causes Fights: When you want to watch HGTV, and your partner wants to watch ESPN, it causes stress and arguments. When the season finale of the TV series doesn’t end the way you would have wanted, you spend the night arguing over it. This can even make way for discord in the relationship.
It Creates Unreal Expectations: Reality TV is known to paint an ideal image in our heads. From the ideal body to the ideal wedding dress to the ideal relationship, reality TV creates unrealistic expectations in us. Watching reality television before bed gives rise to resentments, disappointments, and pent-up emotions.
It Causes Eye Strain: As if working on the computer and staying glued to the phone isn’t bad enough, watching TV in bed creates additional strain and stress on your eyes. From eye strain, you can get headaches, watery eyes, and fatigue. Watching TV in a dark or dimly lit bedroom affects your eyes even more.
It Creates Loneliness And Depression: If you like to binge-watch TV instead of going out and socializing, you may be lonely or depressed. Watching ideal relationships playing out on screen might be fulfilling for the moment, but it adds nothing to your life.
It Leads To Unnecessary Purchases: Various studies have found that people are more likely to act on advertisements when they are tired and half asleep in bed. When you watch TV in bed, the advertisements seem to call out to you more, and you cannot stop thinking about them through the night.
Watching TV isn’t all that bad if it isn’t in the bedroom. There is nothing wrong with watching television in the living room or in the basement, but you must do it deliberately. There are couples who watch their favorite soap together and then switch off the TV and go to bed. That is called deliberate TV viewing.
Even if you don’t have a TV in the bedroom, watching television before bed is acceptable only if you can focus your mind back to sleep once you go to bed. If you keep thinking about what you had watched on TV, your brain will find it difficult to relax and fall asleep. After you turn off the TV, try to meditate, or simply lie in bed and allow your mind to relax. This helps the brain calm down and settle into a state of sleep.
Removing the TV from the bedroom can also save cable costs and make time for more activity. This is especially true for kids who have a TV in their room.
Technology is an important part of our lives, and it’s hard to ban them completely. What is essential is to know the limits and practice mindfulness. Everything is good when done in moderation. It’s not wrong to come home and relax with your favorite show. But when it’s time for bed, you should learn to switch off the TV, go to bed, and invite sleep.
The television takes up precious space in the bedroom, increases clutter, and does not contribute to relationships or health. It’s hard to find a reason to have a TV in the bedroom, except if you are lonely or scared of being in the room alone (in that case, you have other problems to deal with). Remove the television – and all other items not related to sleep – from the bedroom to enjoy a better quality of life and sleep.