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9 Things You Absolutely Need in Your Nightstand

The right bedside table contents can mean better sleep for you.

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The importance of a well-stocked nightstand

Most nightstands go one of two ways: They either become a catch-all for everything that comes in your bedroom, or end up being a totally under-utilized space. Pare yours down to these essentials to enjoy better sleep, and wake up glowing and refreshed.

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A good book

When you’re tossing and turning, switching on your light might sound like it would work against you, but cracking open a book is a surefire way to zonk out fast. Reading keeps your mind off the stressors that are working you up but is relaxing enough to help you drift into dreamland. Just be sure to keep something calming on your nightstand, rather than the latest thriller. Read more about why reading is the best way to fall asleep.

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Glass of water

Assuming you’re getting a full night’s rest, your body has gone eight hours without water by the time you wake up in the morning. As a reminder to stay hydrated, keep a full glass of water on your nightstand. Before you get up in the morning, downing that eight ounces of water will help jump-start your hydration goals for the day. Plus, if you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, you won’t have to weigh the desire to stay snuggled in bed against the killer cottonmouth. Find out if you’re showing signs of dehydration.

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When you can’t stop stressing about everything you need to do tomorrow, take a moment to pull out a notebook from your nightstand and write down whatever is on your mind. Getting a good night’s rest is your most immediate need, but the act of putting your stressors down on paper will help relieve your anxiety about tomorrow’s tasks. Now you can sleep easy, knowing you won’t forget to pay the bill your racing brain just remembered. Don’t miss these other sleep doctor-approved tips for better sleep.

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Eye mask

Even with your shades shut, light could still sneak into your bedroom, keeping you from a restful night. Slip on a comfy eye mask to keep things sufficiently dark. You might need to try a few pairs before you find one that works with your head shape to block out all the light, but once you find it, you’ll be graced with better sleep. Here are more ways to fall asleep without sleeping pills.

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Alarm clock

No, this does not mean your phone that doubles as an alarm clock. Any kind of light can make it harder for your body to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, but the blue light from your devices is particularly powerful against suppressing it. Leave your phone in another room instead of your nightstand when you head to bed so you’re not tempted to do any social media scrolling when you’re winding down. If you’re worried about that chance of emergency, leave it in the room but out of reach of your bed. Before you tuck yourself in, change your settings so your phone will only alert you to calls that can’t wait, like ones from your kids or siblings. Here are more ways you’re probably sleeping wrong.

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Because you won’t be keeping your phone by your bed (right?), you’ll want to have a flashlight on hand if the power goes out. Find one that’s powerful but won’t take up much room in the bedside table drawer. Click here to find out how to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night.

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Comfy headphones

The one exception to keeping your phone away: If you’re having trouble drifting off, the right playlist could help you get to sleep. Turn on soothing music to calm down your racing brain (and get these other benefits of listening to classical music) or download a meditation or guided imagery app that will lull you to sleep. Slipping on a pair of headphones will keep you from distracting a sleeping partner if you have one. Just make sure you pick a pair that won’t be uncomfortable when your head is on the pillow.

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We’ve all been stuck with a late-night sniffle, but keeping a box of tissues by your bed will prepare you for a drippy nose. If you’re trying to cut down on the number of items you have on the top surface, tuck a small pack of travel-sized facial tissues in your drawer so you can keep some on hand without cluttering up the nightstand with a bulky box. Find out surprising reasons for your runny nose here.

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Keep your lips and skin smooth by keeping moisturizers in your nightstand. A lip balm will help your protect your pucker while you sleep, and a small bottle of hand lotion can keep you from waking up to scaly hands. Steal these moisturizer rules dermatologists follow.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.