Is TV in the bedroom an intimacy killer?
Not having a telly in the bedroom could mark you out as a little odd these days, but can viewing habits get in the way of intimacy and sleep?
It’s long been claimed that the bedroom should be a haven of peace and tranquillity. A place to rest, wind down from the pressure and the constant noise of daily life and, of course, a place to for couples to spend quality time together under the covers.
Studies have always maintained that having a television in the bedroom hampers all of the above and, in fact, disrupts sleep patterns and causes more stress between the sheets.
But new research has claimed that having a TV in the bedroom can help people to unwind and encourages intimacy as couples will be spending more time together in close contact.
We asked some Irish women whether or not a TV in the bedroom is a good idea.
Gwen Noone (37), from Dundalk, is married to John and has a daughter, Lir Willow, who is 20 months.
The couple run a digital agency called www.gcosolutions.ie and, due to their hectic work life and the pace of looking after a toddler, find that having a television in the bedroom is the best place for them to relax and have some downtime together.
“I have always had a TV in my bedroom as I like to watch the news or catch up with what’s going on in the world before I get up in the morning and last thing at night before I go to sleep,” says Gwen.
“My husband and I also enjoy watching box sets together, so if we have some free time after the baby goes to sleep we might curl up and watch an episode or two in comfort.
“I know some studies say that the bedroom should only be for sleeping and having some peace and quiet but we have a nice balance in that we don’t watch television every night.
“Sometimes it might only be once a week when we put on a movie in bed. If we are tired sleep always comes first and the TV last as I usually fall asleep as soon as we hit the ‘play’ button.
“But I think it actually encourages us to spend more time together as we prefer to curl up in our room to watch something if it is late in the day — particularly when it’s cold in the winter.
“During the summer we tend to stay downstairs later, but I would say that we definitely prefer the intimacy of watching the TV in our room as we have a nice comfortable space which we can lounge in.
“I know on an intellectual level it is probably better to read in bed and I do like to do that as well but because my job involves a lot of reading, after a long day I just like to switch off for a bit and watch something which requires no effort rather than picking up a book.
“Our lives are very busy and while we don’t spend lots of time watching television and are conscious of how much we and particularly our daughter spends in front of it, there are some excellent shows for both adults and children.
“And while our baby is far too young to have a TV in her bedroom, it is something we both enjoy.”
Willo King is 41-years-old and lives in Dublin 18 with her husband, Stacey and children, Ella (10), Edie (8) and Liam (5). She runs online party supply shop www.partypacks.ie.
She says that the television in the bedroom has become part of family life and is somewhere they can all enjoy watching programmes together in comfort.
“I got the TV in the bedroom when the kids came along — we also got a DVD player with it so they could watch cartoons in bed, but I now use it to go to bed earlier and watch certain programmes.
“In some ways I agree with those who say that having a TV-free room brings peace and quiet but if I’m not watching TV in bed I will be pottering about — doing bits of cleaning and sorting stuff out, not resting and putting my feet up — so having one in the bedroom is the only way I can switch off.
“Mind you, when we invested in a Super King Size bed, it meant that there is so much room that on weekend mornings, the whole family jumps into the one bed to watch TV so it’s not that relaxing, but it’s very sociable and nice spending time with the kids.
“I know we are probably better off reading a book than watching TV but after a hard day it is nice to switch off and we do watch some interesting programmes like Prime Time and Tonight With Vincent Brown, which are on very late so it’s better to be in bed watching them.
“It might seem hypocritical but we don’t allow the children to have a TV in their bedrooms and they all go to bed with a book instead. But they are young and we are the adults and the situation was the same when I was growing up.
“In general, I will monitor how much time they spend on TV as they would watch it all day given half a chance. But with regard to myself, I am too busy running a business and taking care of the family to worry about how much I watch – so the short time watching it in bed is great.”
Psychologist David Carey says that despite the contrasting reports, having a TV in the bedroom is not bad in itself – it all depends on how much time people spend watching it and whether or not arguments about channel hopping make their way upstairs.
“Having a television in the bedroom is not intrinsically bad or damaging to a relationship,” he says. “It depends on whether or not the two parties have agreed to place a TV in the bedroom and it also depends on how and what, is going to be watched.
“If one party is especially sensitive to noise then the use of headphones for telly viewing is a respectful option. Or if one party is very sensitive to light the problem is a bit more difficult to solve but perhaps the sensitive partner can use a blindfold to ease them into sleep.
“Basically, these sorts of things need to be agreed between both parties. As for intimacy, I’m sure it may help in some cases. Mutual respect about viewing habits should be a part of the television routine no matter where it is located.
“I see no reason to ban TV from the bedroom so long as both parties want it there and an alternative solution can’t be found if one party has objections.”
The Dublin-based psychologist says while compromise is the all-important factor when it comes to having a TV in an adult bedroom, there is no place in a child’s room for this sort of thing.
“Watching television can be quite entertaining and a good stress reliever for adults,” he says.
“Of course, reading serves the same purpose, and reading is especially important when there are young children in the home. Observing adults read increases the likelihood of a child wanting to read as well.
“So there is absolutely no reason whatever to have a television placed in a child’s bedroom, and I am totally opposed to this. When it comes to the older teenager, after Leaving Certificate is completed, it can be negotiated but some appropriate rules should be in place such as the importance of family conversation and meals being taken together at times.”