How to Organize a Nightstand

White nightstand with brown clay vase behind wood tray and cup of water

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Most nightstands take up very little room and even a very small, narrow table next to your bed will improve the organization and functionality of your bedroom. At a minimum, a nightstand can hold a lamp and an alarm clock. If you're lucky to have room for a nightstand with a large surface, drawers, and shelves, it can be tempting to keep a hodgepodge of books and toiletries nearby. That may only lead to knocked over water glasses and lost eyeglasses.

Learn what to keep near you while sleeping and how to keep your nightstand tidy.

What to Keep on Top

The goal for your nightstand's top is to keep essentials handy. But your tabletop may quickly get out of hand if you need to wrangle large items like an alarm clock and tissue box with smaller items like a book and reading glasses all crammed together on a small surface. Items tend to roll off the top of your table or get knocked over by accident. Here are a few ways to prevent clutter, rollovers, and spills that inevitably happen in the middle of the night.

  • Keep smaller items, such as your watch, jewelry, and eyeglasses in a small, decorative tray or dish on the top, or a nightstand caddy organizer specifically designed to hold items.
  • Use your smartphone for its alarm and a flashlight capabilities instead of keeping a bulky clock and flashlight on your tabletop.
  • Opt for a floor lamp or wall sconce instead of a bedside lamp to free up valuable tabletop real estate.
  • Keep only the current book you're reading on the top instead of a pile of reading material.
  • Place a white noise machine on the floor between your stand and your bed, or on a nightstand shelf if you have one, to clear off your tabletop.
  • Keep a small, shorter cup or glass on your nightstand rather than taller versions that are more easily knocked over.
Rattan tray with jewelry and eyeglasses next to glass of water and phone

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Handle Cords

Fasten the cords and plugs to a leg of the nightstand with clear plastic cable clips to keep them from becoming unwieldly. or, consider the selection of bedside charging station solutions that minimize the jumble of cords.

What to Keep in Drawers

A nightstand drawer can become a catchall for random odds and ends. Prevent your nightstand drawer from becoming a junk drawer or a black hole where things disappear with the following tips.

  • If you have multiple drawers, consider putting your most-used items in the top drawer and less frequently used things in lower drawers.
  • Opt for travel- or trial-sized toiletries, such as lotions and tissue packets, to keep in your nightstand drawers.
  • Use clear acrylic drawer organizers in your drawers to quickly find what you need.
  • For deep drawers, consider stackable organizing trays; there are many models with sliding tops that let you store double the items in one drawer.
Sunglasses, keys, earphones and jewelry organized inside nightstand drawer

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

What to Keep on Shelves

Bedside tables come in all designs, including those with a shelf or two. Bedside table shelves are notorious for collecting dust (they are lower and closer to the floor) so keep simple items on them that can be moved when a dusting is required. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep only a couple of books or magazines on the shelves instead of piles of unread material; remember that paper items are also dust-collectors.
  • Fill lidded storage baskets or decorative boxes on your shelf with items that may not fit on top of your tabletop or in your drawers.
  • Use the bottom shelf to store electronics (such as your tablet) overnight that remain turned on; you don't want the glow of blue light to interfere with your sleep.
Books stacked on lower shelf of nightstand with wooden box on top

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Add More Storage Beside Your Bed

If you can't fit everything on your nightstand, opt for a hanging caddy that slips between your mattress and box spring (some even attach to the side of your nightstand). It's a handy spot for slipping in your remote, glasses, and earbuds as your nodding off to sleep.