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.
Godfrey Buquet says
Thanks everyone. I have enjoyed your posts & certainly agree with most of them. I’m almost 85 years old and absolutely enjoyed life before tv & computers plus phones, I can’t learn to work before they change them, & I have to buy a new one. Yes at a price that at one time I could buy an almost new automobile. And they keep telling me how much more advanced we are. Yes, to get a sickness that doesn’t yet even have a name, or having a phone that u can’t even afford. I Just wish you all would have lived during my youth. Then u would know what real life is. We enjoyed speaking to each other about everyday things. We did not speak about fiction & we knew the difference between it and reality. Thank you all for the information.
Norberto Rodriguez says
This is a lie, sleeping with the tv is more productive as the rays from the tv make your eyes drowsier making it easier to sleep. Furthermore watching different shows also helps with dreams. The shows you watch may implement themselves inside your dreams to allow more creativity.
its limits your sleep time.
Google “TV ears”, they are wireless headphones. Your partner can listen to the TV at any volume they want, and you don’t have to hear it at all.
Hard choice, either lie in the pitch dark, freaking out over invasive thoughts consisting of prior trauma and hypothetical scenarios, or put a nature documentary on and drift off calmly.
Oh man. Can I relate.
Helen Gibbs says
Audio programs work far better because there is not the blue light disrupting melatonin levels.
You are so wrong sir
Ron Booker says
It caught my attention to find out that watching the TV before sleeping leads to sleep disorders. My wife and I watch a show or two before going to bed because we have a hard time sleeping early. I will be sure to stop doing this and start reading a book before going to bed, so thanks for the post.
In 24 years, we’ve never had a tv in the bedroom. I love it.
I never did bedroom tv and just removing that “eye-box” from the lounge is like eliminating “big brother”!
Try it for two months – and you won’t regret it. Put your tv in your small room and go there to watch it – you will then only watch what is really special for you. Suddenly you will be free of it’s power. And you will have lots of time to enjoy.
My husband of over 30 years prefers the tv in the living room and in his bedroom to me, so therefore I enjoy my own life in my own room with my own music, books, and crafts. He insists that every tv in the house be on loud 24 /7. I hate the distraction and noise. Why are we still married? It’s complicated. I advise all married couples to prefer each other over televisions (etc) and have a true marriage instead of just a live in pay check and housekeeper that must live like hired help in a separate room (that would be me).
I don’t even have a “television” per say.
I have a large monitor, in the living room, that I use as a computer, to research whatever I want to research, watch whatever I want to watch, and listen to what I want to listen to.
No adverts either.
Same goes for having bluetooth audio in the car. The radio is NEVER on.
The dark ages are over! Media has never been so diverse, independent and available!
For the record, people on these comments are highly skeptical.
My husband and I are newlyweds, and we made an agreement to not have television or cellphones in our bedroom at all. The bedroom is designated for emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy….and also for sleeping. We are very intentional about it, and we have absolutely seen the value in keeping technology out of the bedroom.
We also have a designated TV room. We decided to design our living room to foster conversation and relationships, rather than be the place that everyone sits next to each other and stares at a screen. This is also something we have enjoyed.
All things in moderation.
csgo skins ez says
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I can totally understand alot of the comments from others pertaining to having a Television in the bedroom .
I love my husband dearly & he’s a good man.
& it’s pretty sad that we don’t share the same passion when it comes to the t v
He wants to burn the t v all night long it’s like he was born with a t v
It’s not fair to me. Because I can’t go to sleep with it being on its too much of a distraction for me along with being. Noisy .
I need to be able to fall asleep without the noise. & fully rested for the next day & the other thing is he’s. Retired & I’m not.
I so wish I could share this article with my husband. I’m exhausted most days with the disturbed sleep due to the Tv on. Actually look forward to days when he’s travelling so I can get a full nights rest.
Unless you’re a victim of domestic violence, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t share this article with your husband; and if you do suffer from domestic violence, you have more important issues to work on.
I totally understand. My husband will turn on the TV in the middle of the night when he cant sleep and then I wake up. He falls asleep and I am awake. Very inconsiderate!
Removing the television from your bedroom might get you more sleep but, in my experience, so does removing work from your morning. Or the early part of the morning anyway. Also solves #12, the need to get ready faster. This is all highly theoretical of course since I hardly ever watch TV – internet is my drug of choice.
Well you get paid to work, while no one pays you to watch tv, for that matter they expect you to consume more while watching tv.
Agree with much of your article…good you put it out there. One more thing to consider. Many of the newer flat screens, other “smart” technology allows hackers, or those “Authorized”, into your private space. EEW! Who wants that in their bedrooms! I’m all for the older models of devices which came before all of the hype-and tech-enabled nefarious activity.
I was a minimalist for years. I married a wonderful woman 7 months ago who isn’t like-minded in regards to televisions and more specifically in the bedroom. We have one in our bedroom and I have realized why I got rid of mine. All of the negative issue that have been stated in the post above have found their way back into our bedroom. My dilemma is how to convince my wife that we need to make a change and soon.
I am trying hard to be minimalist. It is very difficult when your partner doesn’t share the same passion. My husband says he needs the TV in the bedroom to unwind after work. I really object to it so I often sleep in another room (we have 7 bedrooms!). In the beginning when we first met I didn’t have a TV in the bedroom. About 6 years ago he brought a free one home from work and set it up. He then built under our house and put another free tv downstairs. We have a huge house and land I don’t want, a huge mortgage so I can’t work part time, 4 large screen tv’s I would easily throw away. At the weekend he’s leaves tv’s on all over the house and I can’t handle the noise – it’s such an intrusion. He says we’re building our future to make things simple but I feel like we have totally different ideas about what simple is. I have made major changes around the house to make things minimal and he’s ok with that but talk about getting rid of tv’s or getting a smaller house and he won’t even discuss it. My husband is a wonderful man and I love him but he’s very stubborn. Any blogs on what to do in this circumstance?
Oxymoronic article. The bedroom is for 2 things.. wait, unless you want to read – then it’s 3. One of the arguments against a tv can’t be to better define your rooms (i.e. sleeping and sex) and then say a benefit of not having a tv in your bedroom is you’ll do more reading in bed.
The tv helps me go to sleep, not keep me awake.
You think the TV is possibly pacifying you like many people do with their kids?
But to each his own. I grew up with a TV in my bedroom and have always had one since then. I recently unplugged my TV and Roku in my bedroom and lately I feel I sleep so much better.
And unless someone lives in a McMansion, bedrooms are also generally used for dressing and privacy.
My husband not only put a television in our bedroom, but attached a video game system to it as well. Last year we separated and are now going through a divorce. Never again will I allow that type of distraction in my bedroom, not good.
Sounds like there were other larger problems in the relationship that caused the divorce. Highly unlikely it was the tv.
george costanza says
Definitely wasn’t the t.v.
Did you ever ask yourself why he wanted a distraction in your bedroom, maybe a bit bored.
Jude Diegue says
Please tell me you made this up! (Sad face)
If your TV is attracting and trapping dust, surely it is removing dust from your bedroom, not introducing more dust? It can only attract and trap the dust that is already in the room.
I have a tv in my room and i am onley 12 and i am 13 i had a tv in my room when is was born and i still do and i am sitll going to have a tv
Khambrell H. says
Actually according to the physics of osmosis, having particles bound to an object in the room will cause more particles to enter the room. The reason is that particles stop entering the room when an equilibrium is reached: particles leaving the room = particles entering. However, if particles cannot leave the room (stuck on to television) we will have the same amount of particles entering but less leaving = More Dust In Bedroom.
Then again, there’s the air handling system. Most people keep at least the fan running, which constantly circulates the air.
Thnx this is really helpful but still have my t.v in my room so helpful but can get away n plus my 2 year old falls asleep better whilst watching t.v
Since I am new to minimalism, I am practicing turning off the tvs in my apartment, and it is amazing how much de-cluttering I can get done! I never realized how much time I spent watching and just having them on and not watching. I am more calm and relaxed now. I don’t have them on just because. I will keep one for hurricane reports, but the other one must go. I also have 2 dvd players and 1 laptop. I will keep 1 dvd player and my laptop.
I’m reading this on my tablet late at night :-D
Like anything else you have to know how to use it. I don’t watch daytime TV, including the news, but in the evening I fall into bed and if I am too tired to read I watch TV. If I have a good book to read I do. If my husband wants to talk I turn off the TV. I control the TV it doesn’t control me. I have been doing the minimalist thing for awhile so ads don’t phase me, besides how many new cars could I possibly buy(car ads dominate evening TV). When I get tired I turn it off. Like the Internet I control the content.
We have a TV in our bedroom but we know our limits, we don’t switch it on in the morning before work and if we do it’s to listen to the Radio and we actually hardly watch it before we go to bed (i do a lot of reading) but we do enjoy having it on on Saturday and Sunday mornings for an hr before we get up, i find that this actually relaxes me more and stops me from feeling I’ve got to jump out of bed and do stuff the minute i wake up. My husband wanted Multi room when we got Sky but i put my foot down because i knew it wouldn’t be a good idea, I’d hardly see him due to the sports and i think he agrees now. I totally agree that kids shouldn’t have TV’s in their room, i didn’t have one until i was 15 and actually saved and paid for it myself but even then it was mainly to watch films on at weekends, i do think the major problem now is tablets, phones etc, everything is so accessible 24/7, people can never switch off, i find it infuriating when I’m having a conversation with someone and they’re buried in their phone let alone sitting in bed with one too!
My three daughters and I were in the car yesterday and my 5 yo mentioned that our neighbors, who’s little girl she plays with often, have at least 5 TVs. And many times the living room TV is on all day whether anyone is watching it or not. I then posed the question how many TVs we have and they all answered 1. And where is that located? In the living room. I’m happy with our arrangement. Neither I, my husband, or my family had TVs in the bedroom growing up. When I go into a hotel room it always seems so strange for the TV to be so prominent. It’s a reminder for why it doesn’t work for me in the bedroom.
indeed, food for thought
We are about to get rid of cable for a while, :) We are moving back to a town where I have friends and family, so we can go to their places for the two shows we watch every new episode: The Walking Dead and Pretty Little Liars. Every other show, we are planning on using the money saved on cable charges to buy them in DVD form, preferably second hand. Criminal Minds, Friends, and Melissa and Joey mostly.
That’s my hubby’s and my problem with becoming typical minimalists: We love video games, tv shows, and books. We don’t spend a whole lot of time or money on things like clothes, jewelry, gym memberships, decorations, etc etc, but we are obsessed with
entertainment. We have 200 video games, 400 Dvds, and a couple bookshelves full of books that we can’t seem to part with.
Everything else has been easy to part with, and at least DVDs can go into CD binders to reduce clutter and stuff, :) that is my next goal.
But The Walking Dead and Pretty Little Liars are both on Netflix… and you don’t have to put anything on Netflix away…
I have found leaving the tv in the bedroom and removing it from the front room allows you to relax watching a nice fire ,listening to light music maybe reading a book or just relaxing thinking about your day looking out the Window at the weather.
We have one tv in our home which is only used for DVDs and not every day. We have no cable or satellite TV any more and I never miss it. I also got a new contract for my cell phone and removed internet/fb/email from my contract so it is only for texts and calls. I felt addicted to checking it, especially just before bed and in the morning and it felt so freeing to just take away the option. In relation to kindles etc, I can understand why people feel that giving away books and having a kindle is more minimalist. However, I LOVE books. I have given away/sold DVDs, CDs, clothes, kitchen stuff etc etc but have kept my old books. I did give a lot away but kept the classics and ones that really made me see the world differently. Now I don’t buy books, and I don’t have a Kindle, I just use the library! You can still read ‘real’ books but not spend money or get carried away. I want my children to grow up seeing books as tangible things. When my children are older, I think it will be valuable for them to see books on the shelves in our home and become familiar with them as well as continuing to use the library. Also, children’s books are so incredibly important, I could not give those away and will always buy them new ones for birthday and Christmas, using the library as a guide of what they enjoy. I’d much rather buy them a book than a toy.
I like to buy vintage furniture says
I really like this. Shabby Chic is certainly a type of Feng Shui, giving a peaceful,
soft and feminine feel. A very romantic way of decorating making people want to come in and relax, which is
why it can also be known as the cottage feel.
I think this works for some people, and that’s great. For me, though, I need unwinding time in my own space away from everyone else in order to be able to sleep. I have a lot of anxiety, and the best thing I’ve found to deal with that (especially if I’m having a hectic week) is to take an hour or two a night to just watch a couple of my favorite shows (SYTYCD, Parks & Rec, Veep, etc). I can just let that brain of mine that has often been worked so hard during the day just sort of soften a bit. This relaxes me, allows me to let go of the day (because for me, it’s best to let myself forget about what I’ve been doing all day for a bit if I really want to learn anything) and prime my brain for sleep. Basically, it’s like a nice hot bath for my sore, overworked brain. Through trial and error, I have found than just about any other activity (reading, sex, exercise, walking up the stairs from my living room) that close to bedtime will put me into hyperactive think-mode and I won’t sleep at all (like, “at all” at all…I went 6 days without sleep in high school because I started reading before bed I was hallucinating by the end. Good times.). After my evening melt in front of the tv, I turn it off, turn my computer and lights off, lay down and close my eyes. Then my mind is able to slowly and calmly do the shut-down processing – what you might think of as meditation – needed, before I am able to get a good night’s sleep. In the morning, I rarely watch tv beyond getting the weather forecast (I hate morning television. So much screaming and bright colors for so early in the day).
While I’m sure removing the TV from the bedroom is a great idea for some people, for me it does not make my life better.
NOTE: A fireplace and stand-up record would be just as effective as a TV. I need soft, flickering lights and jokes to relieve the day’s stresses. I don’t have a fireplace in my bedroom, unfortunately.
I agree with you. Before I had a tv, it took me 45 minutes or more every night to fall asleep (starting from childhood). I can actually remember being awake for hours and having insomnia as a kid and I had no tv in my room. I had no idea how to stop thinking. The tv helps me turn off my brain and fall asleep in minutes. The sleep timer does wonders. I have never felt so rested.
I had insomnia as a kid too. I’d lay there and count up to about 10,000, write poems in my head, etc, just couldn’t shut it off. But as a teenager I started researching it. I found that self-hypnosis techniques helped a lot! “You are getting very sleepy, your eyes are getting very heavy…”
Mike W. says
For the people who are kept awake because their spouse wants the TV on: google “tv ears”. There are wireless headphones that are easy to hook up to the TV. So your spouse can listen at any volume they want, and you don’t have to hear it.
tauqir khalid says
I agree with most observations in this post
Amazing how people from the far corners of the earth arrive at the same conclusions if they think logically.
That is so true!! Very nice insight, and makes me realize how alike we are, once we realize what’s truly important in life. :)
What’s up, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this article. It was practical. Keep on posting!
About 6 years ago we got rid of our cable because so little of it was interesting. Now, 6 years later things have changed. I no longer want to live in a nice house. I no longer care or know what the latest fashion is. I don’t know who any celebrities are. I am no longer interested in what others deem to be the latest exciting, or terrible, or ominous things going on in the world. I don’t want to buy anything apart from food and neccessary clothing and needed household items. I don’t know what the latest diet trend is or what new restaurants are around. I don’t eat out. I don’t get upset or angry as I used to. I sleep like a log. I see a great deal of anger and angst in friends. I have books now, they are like real coffee and tv was like cheap instant or they are like a twelve course meal with a symphony orchestra playing and tv was a fast food value meal. I feel as if I had been drinking from a poisoned well. I’m better now. Sadly, people I know are still being poisoned and they have no idea. Even my breakfast has changed. I used to eat only foods that I saw in commercials- bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, cereal, etc. Now I eat what my body needs at the time. I’ve lost wieght. My furniture isn’t arranged like the ones in tv shows. I no longer think that I need anti-depressants or tranquilizers. I have conversations with people from generations ago through books. I’ve relearned history, the ones from tv was full of misinformation. I’ve relearned police procedures, law procedures, medical facts, all of the ones from tv were full of misinformation. I’ve stopped craving a bigger better social life. I’ve stopped trying to be all that I can be, just do it, get a life, be somebody, never stop improving. I’ve gotten away from cliches and vague philosophies. I’ve stopped thinking in black and white and have found a myriad of grey shades. I’ve realized that tv was the worst thing I ever put into my mind. I was conditioned with false realities. I don’t usually say any of these things to people because they quickly become angry since I have insulted thier god, their all.
Thank-you for such a thoughtful, and insightful reply. I too feel the same, after years of living as I’m supposed to, I realize that it’s only stressing me, and it definitely was not making me happier, as I accumulated more and more. I’m now on an active mission to downsize…selling or giving away 3/4’s of my belongings, selling my house (that I have struggled to make payments on), and moving to a small and affordable apartment, reading much more, writing, painting…doing what makes ME happy vs. what society tells me to do. It’s wonderful, cathartic and refreshing, like finally finding a deep well after years of wandering in a desert. I’m so thankful to know that so many others feel the same, and that we have discovered the anti-materialism mindset is the secret to true joy and peace.
Elaine, this is very inspiring. I appreciate your thoughts.
I too thought this was very inspiring and refreshing. Good for you for committing to the downsize and defrag. Best of luck to you. I’m slowly but surely getting there.
Your response is amazing and inspiring. Thank you.
Loved your reply. Sadly it seems like just a limited number of us that feels this way; but it’s good to know we exist.
I agree with this post but I think it’s an outdated problem, nowadays it’s the computer/tablet that is a problem.
The article is all true. And I agree computers are a problem
and the phones smart tablets too, we seem to not be able to be unplugged… Not even while in the toilet :(
Adventurous Andrea says
I love this! The bedroom should be for two things. Well, three, if you include meditation!