Before we made the decision to intentionally live with less, we were just a typical family of four living in the suburbs. But since finding a rational approach to minimalism, our lives have changed in countless ways – some big, some small.
One change that seemed small at the time actually had a profound impact on the quality of our lives, marriage, and family. We removed the television from our bedroom. At first, it was just a 30-day experiment. But given the overwhelming benefits that accompanied its removal, it is a change we look back on with great fondness.
Consider the benefits:
1. More/Better sleep. The same statistics that tell us Americans watch over 35 hours of television/week are the same statistics that make it clear the lure of the screen is just too strong to turn off. No one sets out to spend 5 hours/day watching television. The temptation is too great… especially when we are tired. Not only does television in the bedroom keep us up later at night, but there are also studies that indicate watching television before bed actually disrupts sleep cycles. Removing the television from your bedroom results in more sleep and better sleep… which means you’ll have a better rested, more productive day.
2. What you think about last matters. The evening provides valuable opportunity to meditate, evaluate, and assess your day. This examination leads to learning from our mistakes and growing as humans. Unfortunately, many people will sacrifice this opportunity for the sake of entertainment.
3. What you think about first matters. Every morning begins with a clean slate and brand new opportunities. Allowing your television to guide your morning thoughts takes that blank canvas and begins painting. We would be wise to choose carefully who/what directs our morning thoughts rather than blindly allowing television producers to do it for us. After all, it sets the stage for the rest of the day.
4. Example for your kids. Children with televisions in their bedrooms score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Also, having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking. And that’s a pretty strong argument to remove theirs and yours.
5. More conversation. As a married couple, some of your most important, intimate conversations will take place in your bedroom during the waning hours of the day… unless of course, the television is on instead.
6. More/Better sex. Couples who keep a TV in the bedroom have sex half as often as those who don’t. Probably because there are over a million things more stimulating than a man watching ESPN SportsCenter. And if you ask me, that should be reason enough…
7. Less clutter. Your television takes up space (even when hidden). And I haven’t met anybody who actually enjoys more clutter in their homes.
8. Less advertisements at your weakest. Studies reveal what we already know to be true: Consumers are more susceptible to advertisements when they are tired. Depletion leads us to feel as if we’ve been more thorough and thoughtful in our processing and therefore, we become more certain in our attitudes.
9. Realistic expectations on your marriage. In almost all regards, television rarely depicts the world and life accurately. As a result, too much television results in disillusionment about what to expect from the world around us. This can be most detrimental to our relationships when the unrealistic expectations are applied to our marriage, family, love, romance, and sexuality.
10. Rooms serve purposes. Kitchens are for cooking… Dining Rooms are for eating… Toy Rooms are for playing… Offices are for working… Rooms serve purposes. The better we define those rooms and their purposes, the more productive they become. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex by taking work materials, computers, and televisions out of the sleeping environment.
11. Televisions attract dust. All electronics attract and trap dust… something about static electricity. While I don’t understand the physics, I see the result. And isn’t there enough dust already in your bedroom… why would you want to attract more?
12. Get ready faster. Having the television on while getting ready in the morning adds extra time to the process. And who wants to spend more time getting ready?
13. More reading. Light reading in the evening helps many fall asleep faster. But even if it doesn’t help you sleep, the benefits of reading still far outweigh the benefits of television. Removing the television from your bedroom will almost always encourage more reading in your life.
14. Going to sleep together. While some couples have successfully navigated the television schedule and actually go to sleep together (We watch the King of Queens every night and then fall asleep), we never could. Perhaps we’re less disciplined… but more likely, she liked watching TLC far more than I did. Removing the television helps foster intimacy by not just going to bed at the same time, but by falling asleep at the same time as well.
15. Less electricity/energy use. Household electronics continue to use energy and electricity even when powered off. It’s called standby-power and it amounts to 5-10% of your total electricity bill. One less television means one less financial drain on your checkbook.
16. Your attention is far too valuable. There are very important people in your life who need your attention every single day. Removing the television from your bedroom will help you give it to the people who need it the most.
17. Masking problems in your marriage. When two imperfect people come together to form an intimate union that shares everything, there are bound to be some problems along the way. Successful couples notice them, discuss them, and find compromise that makes both sides better. Unsuccessful couples don’t. Our marriages require us to be intentional and thoughtful. And that rarely happens when the television is on.
18. Watch less television. Inherent in each of these reasons above is the reality that removing the television from your bedroom means that you will watch less television. And there are all sorts of good reasons for that: 11 Reasons to Ditch Your Television, 10 Reasons to Watch Less Television, 4 Simple Reasons to Sell Your TV.
If words on a page aren’t quite enough for you or your partner, commit to try it out as a 30 day experimentation. Unplugging the television and moving it into a different room will take less than 3 minutes. There is an end in sight. You’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, a whole lot to gain.
Again, I’m not saying you have to remove the television from your bedroom. I’m just saying your life will be better if you do.
Great article! I can’t believe that as a society, we’ve come so far as to have an average of 3 tv-s per household. That’s just insane!
And while you’re at it, banishing the one-eyed demon out of the bedroom… wouldn’t it be better to banish the television out of our HOUSE as well? ;) We’ve been proudly TV-free for as long as we’ve been married and loving every moment of it!
greetings from the Netherlands!
I was one of those kids that grew up with a TV in their bedroom (once the living room one was replaced) and I think the only reason was so that I could play video games without disturbing my mom.
No kids for me yet, but my husband and I have been married for almost three years and have no had a TV any place else except the living room and I’m planning on keeping it that way. We don’t have cable, so there isn’t much to watch anyways :)
I definitely agree that rooms have purposes! I would never get to sleep now if I had a TV in the bedroom. I much prefer the humidifier for white noise.
Kristy Powell says
We too got rid of our TV in our bedroom a few months back. We never wanted one there in the first place but when we got married we all of a sudden had two between the two of us. So naturally, one went into the bedroom. We hardly ever turned it on. It was fulfilling so many of the points you mentioned above. I love that the only technology in our bedroom now is an alarm clock (I wish I could get rid of that too, on principle, but I can’t think of a practical alternative). I maybe love it’s absence even more than I should. And this weekend we went through every item in our bedroom and now all that is left is what is needed for sleeping, waking and clothing. Instantly more peaceful and restful.
I had to stop using an alarm clock because the light (especially any blue light) interfered with sleep. I started using my mobile phone’s alarm clock. I don’t have a home phone, so I like keeping the mobile phone next to me in case of an emergency.
Thanks for this article. I have been TV-less for most of a year, and I can’t believe how much time I have now as compared to in the past. This reminded me of all of the reasons I decided to do away with the tube and get on with life.
I’m 15, and a lot of my friends have tv’s in their bedrooms. Quite honestly, I can’t fathom why you would even want one! My bedroom is a retreat from school and other people, where I can just be me. Having television screaming at me to buy things is not a retreat to me.
Wow Luinae – you are one switched on teenager, I hope my kids share your philosophy when they get older… you have given me hope – Thank you – Jo
I’m 18 and haven’t had a TV in my room ever. I know what you mean – most of my other friends have TVs in their rooms and I don’t think I could stand it.
I do have a laptop for study etc which annoys me but I can’t really put it anywhere else. Oh well, something to look forward to when I move away, separate office, yay.
I think its ok to hav a TV in a bedroom ( im a young teem amd i hav one ) but if they dont hav cable or a pvr then its all good. I only hav my Wii and BlueRay player with my TV
Julie Isham says
Did anyone else notice the two teens without tv could spell and the one Gxkkhdjdigs couldn’t even put a comprehensive sentence together?
@ Julie Isham: I noticed and all I could do was sigh. So sad.
My husband has the tv switched on 24/7 and it drives me nuts. Even when he’s not even paying attention, he says he has to have it on to drown on whatever noise is in the background (which I can only assume is me and my need/desire for human contact).
I absolutely hate having the tv in the bedroom but I bought it to try to make him happy. I find our intimacy is down to about once per month (we’ve only been married 2.5yrs) and just tonight, when I arranged the room to be more comfortable and look better, all he could do was complain that he wouldn’t be able to see the tv anymore. Sometimes I just want to give up.
I agree with you- the TV stays in the loungeroom where it belongs. I find that I watch it less and less nowadays anyway.
Life is much better when you get out and go for a walk. Fresh air, exercise, and a better view.
David Damron says
I am still working on my fianceè in regards to know electronics in the bedroom. I love not having a tv in there but getting her to feel the same is tough. She is moving that way…..very slowly.
As always, a great article Joshua!
In our 1st year of marriage we didn’t have a TV at all, and it was foundational in us building a great intimacy and strong communication. Admittedly it was 1993, and things are very different these days. But I can definitely see the value in limiting TV viewing. We had the television in our bedroom for a while a year ago, but it did interrupt our sleep patterns and intimacy, so now it’s gone!
I should add too, that the type of ads they play after 11 pm aren’t very helpful for a couple’s intimacy either! :)
Freedom | Rethinking the Dream says
We moved our TV out of our bedroom 4 months ago. We sold our living room TV which was old and lower quality and moved the bedroom TV into the living room. We’re going through a massive purge/decluttering, and the bedroom TV was on the cut list.
We are seeing most of the things in this list to some extent, but what we really noticed was number 13 read more and number 18 watch less television. We’ve been doing a lot more reading before bedtime, and a lot more reading to our daughter before she goes to bed. We’ve also been watching a bit less TV, but we’re weren’t big TV watchers to begin with.
It did create one source of friction. When I’m playing video games on my Playstation, my wife is left without a TV. I guess you could say I’m hogging our TV. In the past she could go to the bedroom and watch TV while I played games. I suppose this is a good thing as it forces me to limit my gaming time, but it can still be a little frustrating sometimes.
Overall we are very happy with our decision to move the TV out of the bedroom.
Kristia@Family Balance Sheet says
I had read about #6 years ago when we first got married, so I used that excuse when we moved into our house. There isn’t room for a tv anyway and we haven’t it missed it one bit.