Nightstand Essentials for Every Bedroom

bedside table with essentials

The Spruce / Olivia Inman 

Every bed deserves a nightstand (or two) and every nightstand deserves to be stocked with the essentials that make bedtime easier and more enjoyable. While you might not keep every one of the following items in or on your bedside table, you’ll appreciate the convenience of having the majority of them close at hand when instead of having to get out of your warm, comfortable bed when a need strikes, you merely roll over and reach into your bedside drawer.

Read on to discover the eight things that belong on a well-organized nightstand.

Light Sources

A bedside light is a must, both for reading and for nighttime preparations for sleep. While a well-chosen lamp adds a big dash of style to your bedroom, if your space is limited, you can do just as well with a wall-mounted sconce just above and to the side of your headboard.

If you like to read in bed, a lamp that's around three inches taller than the height of your bedside table will shine a light right where you need it—on your book, not in your eyes.

A flashlight is another safety measure that belongs in your nightstand. When a natural disaster, power outage, or other emergency strikes, you don’t want to be stumbling in the dark. Check the batteries periodically and replace if necessary.

Nothing says romance like a flickering candle on the bedside table. It’s even better if the fragrance is one known to stir the libido, such as rose, jasmine, or vanilla.

Alarm Clock

One of the little pleasures of life is waking up, glancing at your bedside clock, and realizing that you still have a couple of hours before you need to be out of bed. Plus, the alarm assures that once you drift back off, you don’t oversleep. Just be sure you remember to set it before drifting off to dreamland!

Pen and Paper

You never know when inspiration will strike for that important work presentation, you wake up from a dream you don’t want to forget, or you suddenly think of a few things you need to add to the grocery list. Another fine use of bedside paper and pen is keeping a gratitude journal; just jot down three things you are thankful for each day before closing your eyes to sleep.

Intimacy Items

Your bed isn’t just for sleep—it’s also for romance. Stock any items that are needed for those intimate moments in your nightstand drawer, and the mood won’t be spoiled by a trip out of bed.

Morning breath is a fact of life. If you want a kiss upon awakening—or you ate garlic before bed and now it’s time for romance—a breath mint or two will keep things fresh until you have a chance to brush.

A small box of tissue paper on your bedside table means you don’t have to get up to fetch Kleenex when the sniffles strike or your eyes well up while reading “Marley and Me.”

Beauty Products

Smooth on hand cream before sleep, and you’ll wake up with softer, smoother skin. This is especially important in the winter when dry indoor air often leads to itchy, flaky skin. A lavender-scented cream will not only help your skin, but it will also help you fall asleep, as well.

Donning an eye mask not only makes you feel like a glamorous actress from the 1940s, but it’s also a great way to block out light from outside or another area of the house. It’s an absolute must if you work nights or have a baby young enough so that you nap when she naps.

No one wants to wake up with dry, flaking lips. Keep lip balm handy and your lips will always be moisturized.

A snagged or cracked fingernail can scratch you in your sleep. Keep a nail file handy for smoothing away rough or sharp edges.

Your Phone

It’s the stuff of nightmares—waking up to the sound of an intruder or the smell of smoke, only to realize that you have no way to call 911. Whether it’s your cell phone or a landline, keeping a phone nearby at night is a safety measure, but feel free to switch off the ringer so you aren’t awakened unnecessarily.

Reading Material

What a pleasure it is to slip between comfortable sheets and enjoy a few minutes—or even a few hours—of your favorite novel, magazine, or book of fascinating facts. Bedtime reading is one of the best ways to transition between the busy day and a good night’s sleep.

A Glass of Water

Who wants to get out of bed and pad down to the kitchen just to get a drink of water at 4:00 AM? Keep a small glass of water on your bedside table, and when you wake up thirsty, relief is right at hand.