7 essential things to keep on your nightstand

Neutral bedroom scheme
Neutral bedroom scheme (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alongside our beds, nightstands are a pretty crucial part of every bedroom. These offer a useful place to keep essential items at arm’s length whenever relaxing in bed. Plus, this saves us the hassle of getting out of our warm beds to go and get something we need.

Trouble is, nightstands often become a dumping ground for clutter or any other unnecessary item. From electronic devices (a big no-no!) and paperwork to jewelry and body products, these can all pile up. That's why it’s important to only have certain things allowed on your nightstand. 

In addition, some things on our nightstands could stop us from having a good night’s sleep. We’re all guilty of keeping our phones or tablets by our bedside, however, experts say this extra screen time can affect the quality of sleep

When it comes to decluttering our nightstands, it’s always best to keep it minimalist, tidy, and with only the essential items you may need. So, if you want a more organized nightstand, these are the 7 essential things to keep on your nightstand — and get a better night’s sleep.  

Also, should your bed face the door? Here's what the experts think.

1. A lamp 

Cream Bed headboard

Cream Bed headboard  (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Every nightstand needs a warm lamp to create a cozy ambiance, and offer a soft illumination for quick, bedtime reading. 

Always consider the size of your lamp, as you don't want something too large and cumbersome. You also don’t want a bright light, so opt for a low-wattage type, or invest in a dimmable, touch lamp like this Yarra-Decor Bedside Lamp ($24, Amazon), for adjustable brightness. These dimmable lamps come in all different designs, colors and sizes and some even have handy USB ports. Just don’t charge your smartphone or devices while you’re sleeping! 

2. Alarm clock 

Alarm clock on nightstand

Alarm clock on nightstand (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although you might be tempted to use the alarm clock on your mobile phone, it’s not recommended! Plus, constantly reaching over to hit ‘snooze’ and check the time can be disruptive to your sleep.

Go back to basics: invest in a traditional alarm clock for that very purpose! Nowadays, you can get various digital alarm clocks that come with dimmable LED displays, bluetooth speakers, a USB charger or radio. 

If you want to wake up feeling refreshed, you can opt for a Sunrise Alarm Clock that supports healthy cortisol levels. Alarms like this Hatch Restore Sound Machine, Sunrise Alarm Clock ($129, Amazon), will ensure you get a good night’s sleep. 

Find out what happened when our Editor tried using this sunrise alarm clock for one month. 

3. Good book or journal 

Books and glasses on nightstand

Books and glasses on nightstand (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Reading can be a great way to help you to relax  before bedtime. And rather than scrolling through reading material on our phone (take it out of the room!), consider a good book to keep on the nightstand. Experts also suggest keeping a journal and pen, for you to jot down any ideas, thoughts or goals before bedtime. It’s also a great way to note these as they come to mind, before you forget the next day!

If you have an abundance of books to choose from, you can invest in a Kindle Paperwhite ($139, Amazon), which uses a built-in warm light for a comfortable read without straining your eyes. Plus, this is much better than the blue light emitted from a smart device that ruins your sleep cycle. 

4. A carafe of water 

Glass of water on nightstand

Glass of water on nightstand (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another nightstand essential is a carafe of water. If you tend to carry up a glass of water every night, you can save yourself the trouble by delegating a corner of your nightstand to a carafe of water. Sets like this Bedside Water Carafe with Glass ($11, Amazon), will help you stay hydrated whenever you feel parched. 

This will save you the trip to get water in the middle of the night — and disrupt your slumber! In addition, a carafe set makes a stylish addition to your nightstand, and would make a great impression in a guestroom. 

5. A small flashlight 

Small flashlight

Small flashlight (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This may seem strange to have on your nightstand, but this is essential in case of an emergency. Be it a power outage, or sounds of an intruder, this is to ensure you can always find your way to safety, especially if you have children. 

Even if you have minimal space on your nightstand, always keep a small flashlight close by. Powerful lights like these GearLight 2pack LED Flashlights ($19, Amazon), are ideal for emergencies, as well as for outdoor use. The last thing you want is to be stumbling about in the dark! 

6. Eyeglasses 

Eyeglasses on nightstand

Eyeglasses on nightstand (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you wear eyeglasses on a daily basis, you’ll need somewhere to easily access them. Typically, spectacles are kept on the nightstand to save you the trouble of searching for them when you wake up.

You can either place eyeglasses in their original case, or you can find a lined holder like this Juvale 2-Pack Plush Lined Eyeglasses Holder Stand ($9, Amazon). Not only will these protect the lens from scratches but also add style to your nightstand.  

7. Tissues 

Tissues on nightstand

Tissues on nightstand (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you suffer from allergies, or have seasonal flu, it’s always a good idea to keep a box of tissues at hand. After all, you don’t want a messy incident to occur after a huge sneeze. This is especially the case if you have runny-nosed children climbing into bed with you!

If you didn’t want a large box taking over the nightstand, opt for a mini-sized/cubed box. To hide unsightly tissue boxes, you can invest in a stylish cover like this Tissue Box Cover Holder ($7, Amazon), are a great way to display tissues. You can also find these in any design and color to suit your home.  

Other things you can keep on your nightstand 

The ideal bedroom for sleep has blue walls, which promote calm and tranquility

The ideal bedroom for sleep has blue walls, which promote calm and tranquility (Image credit: Getty)

When it comes to your nightstand generally less is more. But if you do have a bit more space to spare, you may consider also including some of these items.

  • Decorative vase of flowers 
  • Sleep mask 
  • Pillow spray 
  • Calming essential oils
  • Small tray for loose items

More from Tom's Guide

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!