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a decluttered nightstand

The nightstand is the command center of the bedroom: We want everything within arm’s reach after we’re tucked in. While sleep experts recommend using our beds only for sleep and sex, many of us use them for multiple purposes, including reading, working, studying, even eating. “When we treat our bed like a workplace, then it tends to collect more,” says Laura Benko, author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space.

Why Declutter Your Nightstand?

The bedside table is one of the last things we see before we fall asleep and one of the first things we see when we wake up. That’s one reason it has an outsized impact on how we feel. “We’re highly impressionable to the imagery in our bedroom,” Benko explains. “So be mindful of the messages that surround you while you rest and restore.”

Think of things that usually occupy the nightstand: books you haven’t read yet, maybe the spreadsheet for tomorrow’s meeting. It might be littered with used tissues and other detritus. Benko argues these items are all loaded with symbolism that can interfere with sleep, so clearing this surface can contribute to a better night’s rest.

How to Declutter the Nightstand

A perfectly clear surface isn’t necessarily the goal. For some people, a small stack of books may be more inspirational than stressful. The main objective is simply to relocate any objects you don’t use nightly to a more appropriate location.

The same goes if your bedside table has a drawer — limit what you store there to things you use on a nightly basis, like earplugs, an eye mask, and moisturizer. Clear out any extra power cords, pens, and other random items that may have found their way in. Once this space is decluttered, it can be relatively easy to keep clean. As part of your morning or evening routine, take 30 to 60 seconds to put things away and reset your space.

If miscellany does creep back in, you can create systems to contain it. I told feng shui and decluttering expert Andrea Gerasimo about the two years’ worth of dead AAA batteries from my clip-on book light rolling around in my nightstand drawer. She suggested putting a snack-size Ziploc in the drawer that holds no more than a half dozen depleted batteries at a time; when that’s full, it’s time to recycle them.

How to Defend With Beauty

Benko recommends placing a natural object on your nightstand to discourage clutter and set the energetic stage for restful sleep. “A crystal or a simple flower arrangement will [suggest] a connection to something bigger than you, something that is universally connective.”

Decluttering Inspiration

Clutter affects our mental and physical well-being. Check out “4 Easy Decluttering Projects” to discover three more high-impact areas to declutter.

Jill Patton, FMCHC

Jill Patton, FMCHC, is a Minneapolis-based health writer and functional-medicine certified health coach.

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