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How to Organize Your Bedside Table for Better Sleep

Our well-being is dependent on how well we rest each night.
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Twin beds with table lamps lighted up in a high class, dimly-lit hotel room
Twin beds with table lamps lighted up in a high class, dimly-lit hotel room

I have spent the past 12 years helping clients let go of unnecessary items in their homes, offices and lives -- one area at a time. This post focuses on cutting back on the clutter from your bedside.

I've worked with a lot of people on the space next to their bed, and the feedback they gave me is that it truly helps them sleep better at night. This is my process:

1. Excavate. Take everything off of and out of your bedside table. Also remove anything from off the floor next to the bed, and anything under your bed. Place everything on top of your bed. If you can remove the table or cabinet next to the bed, do so. Take a few minutes to focus on the empty space that's left. Sometimes a space vibrates after you remove the things in it, like it comes back to life. Notice the calm it produces in your body and mind.

Stand over your bed and survey all your stuff. We absorb what's in our space. You have been taking all this stuff with you when you go to sleep at night. It makes it hard to get good sleep. Our well-being is dependent on how well we rest each night.

2. Carefully choose what soothes you. You're going to go through each thing on the bed and see if it supports a restful night's sleep or not. Pick up the first thing and ask, "Does this make me feel peaceful or not? Does this relax or agitate my mind? Does this make me want to lie down on my bed right now and close my eyes, or does this worry or adrenalize me?"

Our sleeping life is the antithesis of our waking life. What supports one doesn't support the other. You want to remove what keeps you awake. You want to invite in with pampers and soothes.

Toss what you no longer want into the trash bags, and put back things that belong in another part of the house.

Put back the nightstand next to your bed with nothing on it. Lay down on your bed, close your eyes and feel the stand. Ask yourself, "Do I like the stand? Does it feel like we are friends? Does this support my sleep or not?" If not, let it go. You may not have something to replace it with, but you're better off having the empty supportive space.

I'm tempted to tell you what not to put by your bedside based on clients that I've worked with, but you know best what supports you.

3. What to put back. Take a look at the remaining items on your bed. You're going to pick the ones you want to take to sleep with you at night. The fewer the items the better. If you like to read before you go to sleep, pick one or two books that you most want to read. I had a client who had multitudes of moisturizing creams. Looking at them as a whole made her anxious. So we chose the few she would buy if she were shopping at a spa store. What basic essentials are going to make you melt into your bed?

Make sure not to layer or stack things. We feel more peaceful when things are unobstructed and there is space between things.

Don't put anything you're keeping on the floor next to the bed.

Leave the space under your bed open. Things under the bed have a way of distracting us while we sleep. It's nice to have the support of the open space.

Please write and tell me your experiences clearing your bedside clutter; it helps inspire people when you share.

Brooks Palmer is the author of Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back (New World Library, 2009) and Clutter Busting Your Life: Clearing Physical and Emotional Clutter to Reconnect With Yourself and Others (New World Library, 2012). To schedule an over-the-phone clutter busting session, go to

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