The bed as sacred space

by Jessie K on February 13, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m a big believer in the bed as sacred space. No paperwork, shopping bags, supplies and definitely no tools of any kind allowed on the bed.  My bed is a sanctuary, not a table. I want to feel calm and peaceful when I fall into the sheets, not disconnected and harried. Jake used to tease me about my “sacred space! sacred space!” predilection, but he’s come around (I wore him down by hollering “SACRED SPACE!!!” whenever he’d do something like toss a hammer on our bed).

But the other night, the “sacred space” debate was reignited when he came to bed with the iPad. I looked at him like he’d just fired up an electric fondue set.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“What?” he responded. “I’m reading an article.”

He thinks it’s fine to bring a screen into bed for some light reading before bedtime, while I think it’s tantamount to drinking a can of Monster energy fuel right before lights out.

What do you think? Do you consider your bed a sacred space? Do you allow screens between the sheets? Or is it the kind of thing that is unavoidable?

(An interesting blog post about maintaining good sleep hygiene here.)

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula February 13, 2013 at 11:13 am


Bringing “screens” to our bed is a moot point; we don’t have the kind you mean.

However, when we married forty years ago, we made a decision to not have a TV or phone in our bedroom, as too many couples fall into the habit of letting this private nest become just another place to watch TV or let others intrude by talking on the phone.

This has worked out well. Still no TV in the bedroom, but we did have to get a bedside phone for safety reasons after my husband’s Parkinson’s affected his balance and ability to move quickly. We were afraid he would fall trying to get to the phone if startled awake. Our bedroom would probably meet your sacred space requirement, as there is no clutter there from activities that belong in other rooms.

Kim February 13, 2013 at 11:21 am


Do you read in bed?

Jessie K February 13, 2013 at 11:33 am


Constantly. It’s my favorite place to read.

Kim February 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm


So it’s ok for Jake to read in bed, but only if his reading material is printed on paper?

I take my Kindle to bed every night. WAY easier than trying to get comfortable holding a book, I can hold it with one hand, don’t even have to sneak the other hand out from under the covers to turn the page.

Paula February 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm


I agree that real books are just different. The atmosphere around books, the feel and smell of them, everything, is compatible with the relaxed, sensuous, shut away feel a bedroom should have. Electronics, nah.

Janelle February 13, 2013 at 11:41 am


No TV in the bedroom, no electronics, nothing but a bed, dressers and a chair. The only thing we do in bed is sleep and… um, well, ahh… anyway.

Leah February 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm


Sorry, but if he was just reading I think he didn’t violate the space. In today’s world we are getting away from paper magazines and such. It’s all going electronic, iPads, Kindles, etc. NOW, if he was ordering truck parts, researching chicken feed, that’s a violation. What I have read says you shouldn’t even read in bed. You should only sleep and have “private time”.

Karen S. February 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm


We have a no TV in the bedroom rule in our house. Although I have been guilty of reading with my kindle app in bed and sometimes checking email right before I check out. I love to read in bed too, although most times I don’t get much done before I pass out. I also like to listen to my mp3 player in bed before I fall asleep. Mostly music but also audio books. It’s really the only time I get to do most of that stuff. And Tom generally comes to bed a little later than I do anyway. I really need my beauty sleep; probably way more than I’m getting!

Brittany W. February 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm


My hubby and I are on different shifts (he’s nights and I’m days) so we very rarely sleep in the bed together, so we’ve never had this talk. I nearly always bring a book to bed until I start to drift off, while he prefers to read in a chair and then climb into bed. I agree with previous comments: if you read in bed, then Jake should be okay bringing an ipad to bed as long as it’s for leisure reading and not work.

Danielle February 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm


Reading is reading, whether it is a book or a digital reader.

That being said, if he was to be playing games or watching a movie on the iPad I would say that is different and not cool.

sarina February 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm


I vote with reading on the tablet as being ok since you read too. Now if it is too paperworky of reading.. taking notes and it is in no way recreation related.. save it for another time. But a little reading in bed can be relaxing

Jill Adams February 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm


I agree that the bed is a sacred space, but my rules are not as strict as yours. My husband and I hang out on our bed all the time, we watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, write blogs, read both on a tablet or real books, etc. However, our children are not allowed on our bed or even in our room. I feel very strongly about this and for selfish reasons I think. Here is my thought process, my whole life and home is centered around our children; I want one room that is just mine, untouched by sticky hands so to speak.

Leah February 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm


Not selfish at all. If your child wakes in the night for whatever reason and needs you, by all means deal with it. Console them, re-enforce that all is well, whatever. I would not, however, take them into my bed to spend the night. This creates a bad habit they will quickly pick up on and wind up moving into your bed. This strains the relationship between husband and wife. This is your place for quiet time, not to mention the private times between just the two of you. Keep your bed your place of personal expression between just the two of you. Ain’t that a polite way of saying two’s company three or more is a crowd?

Jill Adams February 14, 2013 at 11:38 am


lol Leah, I love your statement, “Keep your bed your place of personal expression between just the two of you.” You’re right, but the sad realization I just had is, I wasn’t thinking about that when I made my room off limits to my children. Thanks for your comments, you brought up great points.

Jessie K February 14, 2013 at 10:10 am


It’s funny how we have different definitions of “strict.” Banning screens is considered strict to you, while making a bedroom a no-fly-zone for the wee ones seems pretty strict to me! Hey, whatever keeps your sanity intact, right?

Jill Adams February 14, 2013 at 11:31 am


I know right, I thought about that. I’ve made my whole bedroom off limits to my children!

Sheila February 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm


This is a tough one. Nancy Rothstein — the sleep expert — says NO screen devices because the blue light emitted by them interferes with melatonin production. Kim poses an interesting question: “So it’s OK for Jake to read in bed, but only if his reading material is printed on paper?” Leah thinks researching chicken feed is a violation, but what about the person who likes to browse through cookbooks in bed, searching for the perfect dessert? Is that off limits, too?

And how do we define what is “acceptable” and what is “verboten”? on our bedtime reading lists…one man’s poetry may be another man’s seed catalogue. It’s a dilemma…

Leah February 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm


I think in this context it is what you are doing with what you read. It doesn’t so much matter what you read, i.e. . . stories, cookbooks, catalogues, etc. as what you do with it. To flip through that truck parts catalogue or cook book is reading. To sit and order truck parts, to research and make notes, that is a form of “work”. That is a violation. You are making your bed your desk. Peruse your catalogue and tomorrow you can place your order.

Chin February 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm


I’d have to agree with the sleep expert. I see a lot of clients who have insomnia, anxiety and wake in the middle of the night, and all of them looked at a screen at bedtime. The light from the electronic devices and TV signals to your pituitary gland that it’s still daytime and decreases melatonin, which makes one feel wide awake and has a hard time falling asleep. I know I’m guilty of it at times too, but it’s a proven fact, so I agree. Electronics not invited into sacred space. Books on paper ok though.
My 2 cents :)

Kim February 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm


Not all e-reader screens emit light. I know Kindle and Nook both offer e-ink displays (not back-lit, so easy to read in daylight, but if you’re going to read in bed you’ll still need a lamp of some sort, just like you would with a real book.)

Jessie K February 14, 2013 at 10:07 am


And what a worthy two cents it is. Thanks, Chin!

Jill Adams February 14, 2013 at 11:51 am


My husband just did 30 days of no electric lighting in our home, but we were still allowed to use our laptops and watch a movie if wanted and we experienced something completely different than you’ve described. Only using candles and oil lamps in our home but still using devices changed our sleep patterns within a week of our challenge. Altering the light within our home changed everything! Our children had not complaints about going to bed by 8:30. Our 11 year night owl didn’t even complain! My husband and I usually hit the sack around 11 pm but we were ready for bed by 9 pm. We were literally up with the sun and down with the sun. It’s was interesting to test the theory of light for our selves. Now I turn off the lights of our home after dinner and light a few oil lamps. Our children wind down naturally and the house seems more calm at night now.

Leslie V. February 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm


I’ve heard about the “blue light” from the screens too, but sometimes reading on my screen is the easiest way to calm my busy brain while not disturbing my husband by having a lamp on. It does in the end help me fall asleep, as reading always puts me to sleep, even if its on a screen, so I say pleasurable reading is okay.

Kat February 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm


Our room’s treated as a place of quiet and relaxation. No tv, no phones, no computer. It’s enormous (embarrassingly so) and it’s also set up with our library complete with board games and comfy chairs/table. We don’t have tablets (until my nook comes in the mail next week!) but we both read before falling asleep – print is print, whether it’s e- or paper. If he was watching a video or surfing the net I’d be crazy annoyed, but reading is fine whatever the vehicle.

Bob F February 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm


I am another who likes to read books in bed before turning out the lights. And I prefer real books with real paper and real ink and all that. Reading is a major hobby for me and I have a personal library of about 1200 volumes. The hardcover books are still portable, still readily available when I want to read, cause no problems with airport security, and will hold personal autographs forever. As for the lights being on – night masks work well for those who want to sleep.

Paula February 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm


We have clip on reading lights fastened to our headboard and only put 15 watt bulbs in them. It makes plenty of light for reading that close to the lamp, but doesn’t disturb the other person.

Olga February 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm


That used to be my rule, not even books alowed. But then I had a baby and for the last 7.5 months I spent endless hours nursing him in bed and watching him sleep in our bed. Now, i read blogs or wiki, or emails in my bed ALL THE TIME. I don’t know how I am going to break this horrible habbit. Our son sleeps in our bed and it doesn’t bother me at all, i love it in fact. But I hate reading on my phone in bed and I still do it. It’s evil, don’t let it happen to you!

Jessie K February 14, 2013 at 10:04 am


I haven’t and I won’t….ergo, “the sacred space.”

Molly O February 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm


Woah, looks like I’m the only one who likes having electronics in bed! I usually use my phone in the morning to read the news before I get out of bed. It helps me wake up slowly. Sometimes we watch shows on our laptop in bed too (we don’t have a TV). I’ve never really had sleep problems though and it seems like the light doesn’t keep me from falling asleep.

Kim February 18, 2013 at 1:16 am


We have a no tv policy for our bedroom. He is still working while I am retired. I am a night owl and he is an earlier riser. If I read before bed I will stay up later and later while he reads to fall asleep. We have no children together but do have pets. I refuse to have the dog sleep in our bed because despite her small size (minature dachshund) she takes up a lot of room. The cat gets to sleep with us – I’ve had the cat much longer than my husband!

mouse February 27, 2013 at 5:22 am


I love my dog to pieces, but he is absolutely not allowed on the bed. We tried it for a while, but he would always take up my side instead of my husband’s and it started to make me feel like a second-class citizen in my own home. Granted, he’s a giant lab. I might feel differently if he didn’t take up so much space!

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