Skip the Sleeping Pills, Get a Nightstand

One of my favorite interior images is the nightstand shot; it’s a soulful glimpse into the most personal of practical spaces. I always find myself studying the details and styling of bedside tables.

Here are five essential (and pragmatic) items to rest on your nightstand that will help you rest easy.

1. Literature: Reading a book for 15 – 30 minutes before attempting to retire into sleep can help prepare your brain and body for the rest it deserves. Leave the non-fiction in the living room, fictional content tends to quiet the mind most effectively.

2. Light: The lower the ambient light levels during your nightcap reading, the better (optometrists everywhere are nodding disapprovingly). Turn off your bedroom light and read by lamp light instead. There’s an added bonus here, too – you won’t have to leave the bed to turn off the light when reading lulls you into sleep.

3. Water: There is a plethora of water carafes and cup products (this one is handsome) begging to lounge on your nightstand. Pour a little water into the cup at night before retreating to bed, allowing you a cup ready for sipping if you wake up parched (and if your cup is already full, you won’t need to turn on the light to pour). If all the midnight sipping has you heading to the bathroom, skip turning on the light, which can interrupt your natural melatonin levels during sleeping intervals.

4. Notebook & Pen: We all have thoughts that keep us from sleeping.  Whether you wake up in the middle of the night with a stroke of creative genius, or simply remember your dentist appointment the next day – having a place to write it down allows your mind to release the thought and drift back into sleep.

5. Indulgence: This is something that flirts with your senses or your soul. If your nasal passages love a great scent, keep a candle or diffuser on your bedside table (think aromatherapy scents for sleep and relaxation like lavender or peppermint eucalyptus). If leafy green vegetation calms your mind, keep fresh cut flowers or a houseplant next to your bed. While fresh petal blooms are indulging, opting for a healthy houseplant requires way less maintenance. Perhaps a picture of your loved ones or your favorite travel experience lends you a warm fuzzy feeling? Keep one indulgence that suits you.

You’ll notice two things missing from the five essential items, an alarm clock and cell phone. Keep your alarm clock on your dresser – crossing the room to hit snooze will mean you are more likely to wake up on time. Turn on the light and your chances of oversleeping dwindle even more (back to the melatonin interruption). Leave your cell phone in another room, or at least on the dresser, keep your connection to socializing and work far from your slumbering mind.

Select a nightstand that has storage – hidden compartments allow for the rest of your nighttime needs without creating two square feet of chaos next to your dreams. Keep your hand cream, lip balm, ear plugs, sleep mask, and the rest of your nighttime novelties tucked away. Keeping your bedside sanctuary clean and uncluttered gives your chaotic day a hint of order at the end (and beginning) of each day.

Images: Rue Magazine, Fritz Hansen, & Pia Ulin