Putting a TV in your bedroom seems like a good, maybe even a great, and certainly not a terrible idea. After all, most evenings you zone out from the stress of the day by watching something on TV, by which I mean the assortment of streaming services you subscribe to as well as the physical object through which you do it. You click on something funny and light, or something so dark it takes you out of the incessant swirl of days you can’t name and lunches eaten in the same spot, over and over again, and into a new space completely, and it feels…good. Like relief, for a second.
It’s understandable that we need this: a separation from day into night, a division between work into non-work time, a moment to transition stress into diverting relaxation, or failing that, at least a diversion. (This is why people drink, or smoke pot, or change out of sweatpants into pajama pants, right?)
So why shouldn’t that TV that relaxes you be in the most comfortable, relaxing place possible? In your bedroom, you can watch your diversion from the bed and not even have to rouse yourself to get up when you’re done. That’s right, you can just fall asleep right there when your show is over, or even before, and no one will have to come and prod you in the middle of the night and tell you to move from the living room couch to bed. And you won’t have to grunt incoherently in response, and they won’t have to poke you a couple more times but eventually give up, and you won’t have to indeed feel like crap the next day.
A TV in the bedroom. Now, wouldn’t that be so much more efficient and convenient?
Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. You knew it would be. Nothing, these days, is simple. Also, efficiency and convenience are not always reasons to do things. Most people (minus TV salespeople and people in the business of selling furniture that makes TVs look like they belong in bedrooms) will tell you, No, definitely do not put a TV in your bedroom, what are you thinking? Disturb the sanctity of your rest? Blow past your bedtime? Add to the multiplicities of ideas and storylines and colors and pictures battering your poor brain at all times? Keep ’em separate, like church and state, like oil and water, like your Netflix and Amazon passwords. Do not mingle!
And yet, back when we stayed at hotels, we all had that lingering thought, didn’t we? Wouldn’t this whole “lie in bed and order room service and watch TV thing be nice at home,” too? Wouldn’t it kinda make a home feel like a hotel? And don’t we need that, now more than ever? (Definitely the room service part, except crumbs in a bed you don’t own, are better than crumbs in a bed you do.)
Anyway, let’s get to the facts.
Here’s what will happen if you put a television in your bedroom:
- You will, inevitably, watch more TV in your bedroom. Certainly, more TV viewing than you’re used to will be done in your bedroom, but maybe more TV viewing altogether.
- You might start turning it on even when you’re not watching it and leaving it on as background. (And this may or may not annoy your partner, dog, cat, or downstairs neighbor.) This is the TV snowball effect. The more you see it, the more you use it, and the more you use it, the more you don’t do other things.
- Your bedroom will become a TV-room bedroom, and not just a bedroom-bedroom, which is to say SLEEP MAY BE COMPROMISED, as may other bedroom activities, like sex, cuddling, and reading in bed, among others.
- You may experience sleep problems and any plans you had for a consistent bedtime may crumble.
- And for parents, putting TVs in children’s bedrooms can lead to a host of problems down the line for kids from poor test scores to health issues to less sleep for them too. (Letting kids use iPads, or other tablets and smartphones, at night can also cause sleep problems. Same goes for adults.)
Now, if you’re really into watching TV in your bedroom you may want to ignore all this. If that is you if you don’t care one way or another about, say, building intimacy with your partner during sheets-time (maybe the TV begets intimacy, only you can answer this question!) or getting more books read at night, by all means, put a TV in your bedroom. If your sleep quality doesn’t matter to you or yours doesn’t suffer easily, or you’re the type of parent that preaches do as I say not as I do, and you really just want to fall asleep watching old Dawson‘s reruns because Pacey is really quite soothing — what a guy, that Pacey — well, I am not here to judge you. I am only here to give you my opinion based on not only experience but much internet reading. But also, if you’re that sure about what you’re going to do, why are you reading this article?
Here’s the main thing that’s likely — no, definitely — going to happen if you put a TV in your bedroom:
And, even if you never watch the TV in your bedroom, you suddenly have less room in your bedroom, and if you’re never watching it, why in the world are you putting it there? (Also, you’ll have to dust this TV, apparently. TVs get dusty, just like everything else.)
A caveat: If you live in a very small space, say, a studio apartment, your bedroom and TV room may already be the same place. If you live in a shared apartment in which you and your roommates do not agree on your favorite shows, you may also need a bedroom television. This brings me to another point. There’s a great alternative to having a TV in your bedroom that gives you quite similar (but better) results: Use your laptop or an iPad to watch TV in your bedroom! (Not your phone. I am worried about your eyes.) And when you’re done, close it and put it away. Don’t do it every night—or do, but if you find yourself sacrificing time in which you’d like to be accomplishing other things to the Netflix gods, or your partner is annoyed that you’re no longer talking or making out or actually sleeping in bed, or your kids or hamsters or group texts are scrambling for your attention and your eyes are glued to Virgin River, which you don’t even really like, that’s your cue that there’s something lacking balance in your life, and it may be time to scale back on the bedroom binge-watching for a bit.
There’s a great alternative to having a TV in your bedroom that gives you similar results.
Look, life is hard. Balance is harder. Putting a TV in your bedroom, a place already definitionally allotted to another activity, just muddies your sense of purpose. And the purpose is what we cling to as humans, it makes us feel good, it makes us feel…purposeful. So, unless you are the most diligent of sorts, the kind of person who says what they’ll do and never ever fails to do what they’ve said, why add the competing attention factor of a TV in your bedroom? I mean, isn’t plain old attention, not to mention plain old sleep, hard enough these days?
Now, ask me if you should have a phone in your bedroom. (Or don’t because you already know the answer.)