Create a routine that helps your brain switch to sleep mode.
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As the place where you start and end each day, your bedroom is one of the most important areas in your home, and how it's designed can have a profound impact on your daily life. Your bedroom should be a relaxing retreat, one that's warm, tranquil, and comfy. Although there's no one-size-fits-all solution where style is involved, there are expert-approved strategies you can use to create a calm space that lulls you into a sound slumber.

It's important to pay attention to the items you keep near your bed and how they could be affecting your sleep, says Dr. Eve Van Cauter, a sleep expert and chair of the scientific advisory board for Sleep Number. "Normal activities within daily routines are the ways in which we maintain the rhythm of our lives," she says. "Anxiety levels rise when those routine activities are taken away." To help create healthy routines, consider the items on your nightstand. Here are six must-haves that can help you fall asleep faster and wake up well-rested.

slate walls bedroom with midcentury modern nightstand
Credit: Kim Cornelison

1. A Drawer

Make sure your nightstand is outfitted with a spot where you can stash items like phones and tablets when it's time to sleep. "Part of the bedtime routine is putting your devices in a drawer and saying goodbye for the night," says designer and therapist Anita Yokota. Many nightstands now have built-in outlets or charger openings that make plugging in easy. If your bedside table doesn't include a drawer, tuck a lidded box or basket underneath so you can easily stow away devices at night.

2. A Lamp

Place a lamp on your nightstand (or install a wall sconce directly above it) to provide a reading light you can easily switch off from bed. You should also consider the color temperature of the bulb. "Blue light is the type of light that tells our biological clock that it is daytime," Van Cauter says, "and therefore we want to avoid blue light exposure when we want to go to sleep." Swap in a C by GE Tunable Smart Bulb ($25, Target) for better control of your light's temperature. You can program cool light to wake you up and warm, dim light to help you wind down at night.

nightstand black white bedroom
Credit: David A Land

3. A Small Tray

"Keeping your bedside clutter-free and organized can also help reduce stress," Van Cauter says. Place a small tray on your nightstand to corral jewelry, glasses, and other miscellaneous items. In the morning, empty the tray of anything that belongs somewhere else.

4. An Alarm

With your phone in a drawer, you'll need another type of alarm for the morning. Any clock will do, but if you have trouble falling asleep or waking up, consider the Hatch Restore ($130, Amazon). You can build a bedtime/wake-up routine with timed meditation, light cues (including a sunrise), and a sound machine.

room shot of bedroom with blue patterned wallpaper and headboard
Credit: Annie Schlechter

5. A Coaster

Protect your furniture while you help yourself stay hydrated. To ward off rings, keep a coaster on your nightstand for a water glass. If desired, place the coaster inside a large tray with a rim to safeguard the nightstand's surface against spills.

6. Space for Books

Leave room on your nightstand for a book or two for nighttime reading. Or keep a small notebook or journal there to create to-do lists for the next day, Van Cauter suggests. Use it to put your thoughts and worries to bed so you can sleep soundly.

By Jessica Bennett and Katy Kiick Condon

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