How To Light Your Bedside Table 101

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When it comes to bedroom lighting, one of the mistakes I see most often is poorly used task lighting. By task lighting, we mean lighting used in a specific area with the purpose of helping us perform an activity.

You see where this is going: the bedside table is one of the most important task areas in the bedroom.

So how do you light your bedside table properly? There are a few steps you need to follow and we’ll go through them one by one!

Light your bedside table

The steps you need to take to light your bedside table are:

  1. Decide what fixture you will use
  2. Make sure your lighting will be convenient
  3. Calculate your lumens
  4. Select your bulb (color temperature)
  5. Install the fixture
  6. Enjoy a well-lit bedside table!

Before we explain each of these steps, let’s see why this topic is so important.

Why You Need To Carefully Light Your Bedside Table

Most of us know the detrimental effects of artificial light on our health and sleep routine. Our circadian rhythm is directly affected by our exposure to light, and so our sleep schedule can easily be thrown off by improper artificial lighting, especially at night.

Your bedside table is one of the areas that can impact your sleep routine the most. Too much light at night might make it harder to fall asleep, while too little light will strain your eyes.

Pro Tip: Install motion-activated LED strips under your bed. Late night trips to the bathroom or kitchen will become so much easier without blinding lights!

So how do you find the perfect balance and what steps do you need to take to achieve the most convenient lighting for your bedside table?

1. Decide what fixture you will use

The best fixtures for the bedside table are:

  • Table lamps
  • Sconces
  • Floor lamps
  • Swing-arm sconces

Table lamps

Table lamps are a very safe choice to light your bedside table. They come in a large variety and can look awesome next to your bed.

Their main advantage is that they are very easy to install and use. Their main drawback is that they take up space from the already small bedside table.

Pro Tip: For contemporary bedrooms, go for monochromatic (white, black, gray) lamp shades with sharp corners. For more traditional bedrooms choose earthly colors and more rounded lamps.

Best table lamps for bedside table


Sconces are preferred for traditional and transitional styles, although modern sconces can also be used in contemporary architecture.

Their main advantage is that they don’t take up too much space but give off enough task (and sometimes ambient) light. Their main disadvantage is that they can be complicated to install, especially if you don’t want the cables to be visible.

Install two sconces, one on each side of the bed.

Remember: Do not use different sconces – it can end up looking tacky and off-putting.

Best sconces for bedside table

Floor lamps

Floor lamps are a good choice if you want to avoid the hassle of installing sconces and your bedside table is small. They work best next to tall beds and in corners.

Their main advantage is that they are easy to install and they provide ambient light as well. Their main disadvantage is that the switch might be out of reach from the bed.

Best floor lamps for bedside table

Swing-arm sconces

Swing-arm sconces are an excellent choice to light your bedside table! They are very elegant and practical at the same time.

Their main advantage is that they can be adjusted to point the light exactly where you want to (e.g., for reading a book). Their main disadvantage is that they are complicated to install and also potential head bumps (ouch!).

Best swing-arm sconces for bedside table

2. Make sure your lighting will be convenient

The most important thing when it comes to bedside lighting is the switch. You definitely want the switch to be within reach from your bed!

So when you decide which fixture to use, make sure that its placement will be convenient.

Next you need to ensure that it doesn’t get in the way or take too much valuable space.

For example, don’t get a table lamp if your bedside table is already small.

3. Calculate your lumens

Lumens measure the brightness of the bulb and they have replaced watts.

Measure the area of your bedside table and a small part of your bed, and multiply that by 30-40 for square feet or by 300-400 for square meters. That will give you the required lumens for your task lighting.

This range depends on the overall brightness of your room and your personal preferences. Often times, I go for slightly lower lumens for the bedside table or make sure to have installed dimmable LEDs.

I have written an entire guide on how many lumens you need in your bedroom. Check it out here!

4. Select your bulb (color temperature)

Next, it’s time to select your bulb if your fixture does not have one already.

I always suggest LED bulbs because they are more energy-efficient and versatile.

You can connect them to a dimmer switch or use a remote and adjust the brightness and color temperature whenever you feel like it. That’s really useful, especially for the bedside table.

Color temperature should be about 2500-3500 K. You need warmer colors at night to help you relax, as they are easier on the eye.

5. Install the fixture

If you decided on floor or table lamps, then you can skip this step. Simply assemble them if you need to and plug them in!

However, if you prefer sconces (or even pendants!), you will need to install them properly.

If your wall already has sockets, you can follow the video guide below. Otherwise, you might want to call an electrician.

6. Enjoy a well-lit bedside table!

And there you have it. A perfect way to light your bedside table properly!


  • choose some nice fixtures
  • make sure they won’t get in your way or be annoying
  • calculate your lumens and color temperature following the instructions above
  • get your bulbs if needed and install your fixtures!

The bed can be an almost holy space and you need to treat it accordingly. A well-lit bedside table can not only affect your mood but also your sleep routine, so take good care of it!


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