10 things worth a try if your spouse keeps the TV on at night
By Jason Wooden, PhD | June 30, 2021
When a spouse keeps the TV on at night, it can ruin everyone’s sleep. It’s harder to fall asleep and the noise can pull you out of deep restful sleep into a lighter sleep. It can also strain relationships.
To sleep better, your options include ear plugs and an eye mask, head phones, watching on smaller devices, adjusting the TV screen, setting TV hours, counseling, sleeping separately, and various other remedies. You should also check for underlying health issues that could be worsening your sleep.
Why it’s so frustrating when a spouse keeps the TV on at night
She needs it dark and quiet to drift off to sleep, he can’t fall asleep without the TV on.
Meanwhile, she’s left feeling frustrated and resentful while tossing and turning in bed.
A spouse or partner keeping the TV on at night is an all too common bedroom complaint. Search online you’ll see desperate spouses looking for answers in various forums.
Every night one in three adults struggle with sleep. It’s hard to say how much of this is due issues like a TV.
However, we do know that 9 in 10 Americans use electronic devices in the bed room with TVs being the most popular according to a Nation Sleep Foundation poll.
And one in five people name their partner as the biggest issue for their sleep when survey.
Regardless of what the stats say, it’s all the same to your sleep and the price you’re going to pay the next day when your sleep gets shorted.
Besides dragging through out the day, sleep-deprived people don’t think as clearly, have a harder time coping, and don’t function as well at work.
If you’re insomnia is ongoing, it can increase your risk for all sorts things you want to avoid including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, and dementia.
That’s a lot at stake.
Let’s take a look at the true cost and some practical things you can do to keep your spouse’s TV watching from stealing your sleep.
When your spouse watches TV in the bedroom it’s bad for everyone’s sleep
Many people use TV as a way to unwind at night. Unfortunately, the light and noise can be a real pain.
It can also come back to bite you in some surprising ways.
One of the biggest sleep rules is that your bedroom should be DARK, QUIET, and COOL.
It’s obvious how noise from the TV can keep someone from falling asleep. Did you know it can still cause problems once you’re asleep?
Unfortunately, intruding sounds can arouse you out of deep sleep into a lighter sleep. Since deep sleep is when the body heals and replenishes itself, you’re getting enough the restful sleep your body really needs to recharge.
The bright light from the TV screen is just as bad because our bodies are wired to be in tune with the natural day-night cycles. It tells your brain it’s time to wake up.
Even small amounts of ambient light can cause trouble.
So, that’s how keeping the TV on at night can be bad for both you and your spouse. It will make it harder for everyone to fall asleep.
You’re both staying up later than you really should and not going to sleep when your body says you should.
And you’re both not sleeping as well as you could.
Your spouse’s late night TV watching can be bad for your relationship too
One person feeling resentful isn’t the only relationship fallout from a spouse keeping the TV on at night in the bedroom.
I’ve already mentioned the downsides of poor sleep.
It’s no surprise feeling overly tired, more irritable, and moody can add more stress to a relationship. It’s also harder to do every days including house hold tasks and spending time together.
Emotional intimacy can suffer due to poor communication, irritation, anger, and stress. Physical intimacy can suffer due to suppressed sex hormones, erectile dysfunction, and low energy.
When people aren’t sleeping well night after night, over time it can chip away at the strongest of relationships.
Which is why your really need to do something different if the TV has become an ongoing issue.
What to try if your spouse’s night time TV watching is ruining your sleep
Depending on your situation, there are a range of remedies to try out whether it’s the noise, light, or both that’s causing you trouble.
1) Earplugs and eye mask
Simple, low tech, and cheap, definitely worth a try.
2) Head phones
A pair of wireless ear phones will at least keep the noise from disturbing you.
3) Watch on a smaller device
Your spouse can try watching things on a lap top or tablet. Since it’s a smaller screen, there’s less light blasting out and they can listen in using their headphones.
5) Set TV watching hours
As a compromise, you can agree to a lights out time after which the TV watching will happen in a different room.
6) Move the TV
Put it in a different spot so that it’s as far away from you as possible.
7) Use a timer
Setting the TV to turn off after a certain time so it’s at least not causing trouble while everyone’s asleep.
8) Have them start unwinding earlier
Many people watch TV before bedtime as a way relax. Have your spouse start their pre-sleep routine earlier in the evening.
9) Move the TV out of the bedroom
This will keep your sleeping space an electronic free zone dedicated to quieter activities, intimacy, and sleeping.
10) Find a TV substitute
There are plenty of things your spouse can do besides watching TV to relax at night whether is a book or relaxing audio.
Some people find that sleep tracks with quiet music and nature sounds does the trick. Whatever you try, make sure it’s not something that can get you wired up.
Check here for a list of ideas.
What else you should be doing for your sleep
It’s likely your spouse’s TV watching isn’t the only thing affecting your sleep. Unfortunately, there’s a long list of issues that can cause trouble. Many of them arise from your everyday habits.
This makes it important to practice good sleep hygiene which is what you do during the day and evening that sets the stage for quality sleep. Poor sleep hygiene can sabotage all the other things you do to improve your sleep.
So, why make getting good sleep any harder than it already is?
For better sleep hygiene, you should::
- keep regular wake up and sleep times
- avoid naps
- exercise during the day
- avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as
- caffeine before bedtime
- maintain a bedtime routine that prepares you for sleep
- keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool
- avoid electronics use in the bedroom
It’s also important to see a doctor, especially if your poor sleep becomes a long-term problem.
Too many people are unaware how many other medical issues can cause problems or worsen sleep. This includes things like asthma, allergies, acid reflux and heartburn, heart issues, chronic pain, and diabetes can keep you up at night.
You may also be living with an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
And prescription drugs, anxiety, and depression can also cause or worsen sleep issues.
A doctor can help you identify and work through any of these underlying issues that may be making your nights harder.
Working together for better sleep
There’s too much at stake to accept the status quo. When you’re sleep deprived that makes everything else in life harder, including relationships.
So, have an earnest conversation sooner rather than later and honestly share where you’re at.
Sleep is just too important to life to mess around.
As a starter, you and your spouse should commit to supporting each other’s basic need for sleep hygiene. To keep from getting overwhelmed, be realistic about your situation, keep things simple, and take it one day at a time.
If you struggle to find compromise, than you may have bigger issues. It may take more work including counseling to sort things out, but it’s well worth it.
Worst comes to worst, you can always try a sleep divorce at least on a temporary basis. It’s a remedy growing in popularity where couples spend time together during the evening and then sleep separately during the night.
It allows sleep-deprived people to get the rest they desperately need and can help bring the stress down. That will give you some breathing space as you work together through your specific issues.
And for some it might be the optimal remedy.
1. “Talking Points”, World Sleep Society website
2. The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America Poll. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2013, volume 9, issue 12, pages 1291–1299.
3. “Shocking number of couples want to kick their other half out of bed”, 2018, nypost.com
4. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2015, volume 112, issue 4, pages 1232 – 1237.
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