How to Organize a Nightstand for a Better Night’s Sleep

If you are looking for help on how to organize a nightstand then you are in the right place. Get a step-by-step approach to setting up one of the most important pieces of furniture in your home.

How to organize a bedside table so you can fall a sleep quicker and rest more soundly.

How to organize a bedside table

It’s funny, well maybe not so much now that I am thinking on it, but the older I get the harder it is for me to get a good night’s sleep. I either have a hard time falling asleep or, and this is just as frustrating, I have a hard time staying asleep.

Over the last few years, I have learned some tricks to help and it all comes down to one thing.

If you want to fall asleep and sleep better, then you need a good and organized bedroom and most especially a good and organized nightstand.

waking up next to an organized nightstand

Hmmm, didn’t see that coming? Okay, maybe you did since the word “nightstand” is in the title of this article, but seriously this little area in our bedroom is more than just a table to hold more random things.

It is the place where you keep all the items you need to finish out your day, to fall asleep more easily, and even begin your day off on the right foot.

There is nothing worse than reaching for a drink of water during the night only to knock down a towering pile of books instead. Or wanting to blow your nose and rather than finding just what you are looking for your hand is greeted with an empty tissue box.

And since a good night’s sleep is always my number one goal, I have become a pro at setting up a nightstand that helps me to do just that.

After a long, busy, and stressful day you deserve to sleep a deep and peaceful sleep without waking up over and over again. By setting up your nightstand as your actual sleep aid, you will be better able to do just that. 

To fall asleep more easily. And if you happen to wake up at night, an organized nightstand should have just what you need so you can fall back to sleep fast.

What are the different types of nightstands?

A nightstand also called a bedside table can be just a table, a cabinet, or even a small chest of drawers. Picking the best fit all depends on what you are looking for.

I like having drawers in my nightstand because it allows me to have all the things I need without having to SEE all the things I have.

The drawers make it easier to keep the top cleaned off with all the random items put away down inside of the drawers.

I have found that the less clutter in my bedroom, the easier it is for me to fall asleep at night. And this includes the top of my nightstand.

And it’s funny if you walk into a bedroom, especially ours, the nightstands couldn’t be more different. What I like to have close to my bed is completely different from what my husband likes to have.

nightstand next to a bed


Women’s Nightstand Organizing Essentials.

The easiest way to keep things neat and clutter-free is to have containers to hold your items. This not only makes it easy to put things away when you are done with them but it also helps you to find the things that you need more quickly.

Women, I have found, tend to have more items in their bedside tables than men do. I think we just have a larger checklist to go through before drifting off to sleep.

Creams for our hands, faces, even our feet, ties to keep our hair contained, rings, journals, books, magazines, tissues…so many things. And because of that, I think our nightstands need to have plenty of room to hold it all of those items without things looking cluttered or messy.

D/M PRO TIP: When looking for the perfect nightstand for your room, you do not have to match up with your spouse. The trick here is to choose something that YOU will use. This also allows you to pick exactly what you want and allow your spouse to do the same.

A few nightstand organizing options are:

And it’s true that your list is going to be different than mine and for that reason, I find it is best to do a bit of prework before you go shopping. To decide just what you need on your nightstand so you know just what you need.

To do this, just take a piece of paper and write down all the things you are doing now before you go to bed, along with any tasks you want to add in.

This is basically your bedtime routine and knowing this list will better help you to set up your table.

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Once you know what you need or want to do, you can more easily set up your bedside table to help you do everything on your list more easily.

Men’s Nightstand Organizing essentials

Let’s face it, men like to dump and go. Whatever is in their pockets usually just gets tossed on the top of any open surface and left to be dealt with later.

Sometimes….much much later. (As in never) I have found that the more I can help my Hubby contain his pocket clutter the easier it is not only for him to deal with it later but for me to look at it until he does.

  • You can use a small dish you no longer need from the kitchen.
  • A sturdy and shallow lid from a box.
  • A felt-lined purchased organizer that matches your room’s decor.

When setting up a bedside table for men there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind when looking for the perfect organizing option.

What they consider important, meaning what needs to be out and what do they consider not quite as important and can be stored inside.

Here are a few items that may need containers to more easily organize them.

  • Tissues
  • Phone charger
  • Phone stand
  • A good and adjustable lamp
  • Eyeglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Pen and pad of paper
  • A few good books
  • Headphones

I have found that for my husband, easier is most definitely better. He wants fewer things than I need and wants them to be much easier to get to and then put away when he is finished.

That means just one or two organizers is all he needs, whereas I prefer many to keep my things sorted by task.

Whenever you are setting up a space, even one as small as this, you will want to use organizers that encourage you to keep things put away and surfaces clutter-free. If you prefer one-step organizers then a basket is more your style.

If you prefer pretty organizers then a basket with a lid might be what you want. This is called your organizing personality and when you work WITH it rather than against it you will be more successful keeping up with any systems you put into place in your home.

Nightstand Options for the Bedroom

If you do not have a nightstand or you do not love the one you. have now, here are a few ideas to check out.

An open table setup.

This option is best for the minimalist that needs few items and prefers to be able to more easily get to what things they do have nearby. A simple nightstand like these may be all that you need in your bedroom.

A chest of drawers.

Drawers are my favorite style of bedside table because it really allows me to keep all sorts of things inside without the messy look outside.

This bedside table has one small shelf and a few drawers allowing you plenty of room to store all of your things.

A combo table with shelves and drawers.

A combo bedside table gives you the best of both worlds. I think this option is perfect for the person that loves to read and has a nice supply of books and magazines nearby at all times.

How to organize a nightstand

Whenever you are setting up a space it is best to look at it in levels. Closest to your eye (or the easiest to reach) level is your “prime real estate” the most valuable simply because it is the easiest to get to.

This area is where you will want to focus on first. Decide from the routine you created above, what top 3 tasks you will be doing before drifting off to sleep.

Set those actions up in your prime real estate space using bins or baskets to hold what you need to do each task.

So, for example, if lip care is a top action you may want a small basket to hold lip balm, cold sore medication, or wrinkle care. Try not to overcomplicate this step. Your goal here is to just “contain” the tools you need to do a task.

This will not only make it easier for you to DO that task but it will also be easier for you to put those items away when you are done. Helping you to always keep your bedside table neat and organized.

Work your way through your top three tasks finding bins, baskets, or my favorite DIY nightstand organizer, box lids, to keep things contained together. Next, you can move onto the lower area.

This is where you will keep things that are not on your top list. Reading, footcare, journaling, etc are a few options for a lower drawer or shelf. Since you do these tasks less frequently you can keep them on a lower shelf and out of the way until you are ready to do them.

In the beginning, this might be a bit frustrating because you will have a pretty large list of activities to fit in a small area. If you find this is what is happening to you, take a step back, and reevaluate what your top list is.

  • Can you combine things together? Keep lip care and medicines in one basket.
  • Can you pare down on what you have? Keep just one hand lotion rather than 3.

This is your space and yes, you make the rules but if it’s not working it’s time to make new rules until it does.

What should you put on the top of your nightstand?

When I am not sleeping I prefer to keep my nightstand as bare as I can. Having a clutter-free bedroom, I have found, is the key to sleeping better at night. The less visual clutter I see the more easily I will drift off to sleep.

When I do go to bed, I will take out the main items I may need during the night.

  • Tissues
  • Bottle of water
  • Lip balm
  • Phone
  • Eyeglasses

Yes, things are a bit clutter as I am sleeping but when I wake up in the morning part of my routine is to reset my nightstand back to clutter-free. This is easy to do since my drawers are set up to hold these items allowing me to just drop them into their basket and go.


Super quick and easy. This is my organizing personality and one I try to incorporate throughout my home.

Seeing your nightstand as a tool to help you fall asleep and stay asleep will make it easier for you to declutter and organize it. When you see your things as tools it is easier to know just what you need and what is excess or things you do not need.

Remember, as you find items you no longer need with each of these organizing projects, toss them in your donation basket, and keep working. The less you focus on what you are keeping rather than what you are removing, the more easily this will be for you to do.

Now that you know how to organize a nightstand, I hope you, too, can get a better night’s sleep.

More Bedroom Organizing Resources:


  1. I went upstairs straight and tidied my bedside table!!! It looks great now that it is all empty of clutter (which has been put in a little basket underneath). Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this excellent blog. I am less bothered by clutter, but when the piles on the nightstand get too high disasters can occur. You have some very good ideas, and I have a great chest nightstand. I need to use the drawers more appropriately. Again, thank you for the inspiration. Oh, my husband loves the collapsible trays that I made for travel. That which goes into our trays does not end up on the floor during the night and does not get left in the hotel when we leave.

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