In today’s day and age, it’s no longer standard to have a metal frame and box spring support your bed. Now-a-days, people sleep on mattresses supported by platforms, adjustable bed frames, canopy bed frames, or if you’re like some college students — directly on the floor. This trend has evoked demand for nightstands of all different shapes, sizes, and functionalities. Unfortunately, this can make it hard for nightstand shoppers to make a decision, especially if they aren’t sure what exactly they’re looking for.

Proper Nightstand Height

As a general rule of thumb, the top of your nightstand should be level with the top of your mattress, or about 2-4” taller. It’s much easier for somebody to reach above to grab something when they’re laying on the bed, as opposed to reaching below.

Level Bedside Table Example
The top of your nightstand should be even with the top of your mattress, or a few inches taller

A taller nightstand also prevents you from having to bend over when you’re standing up and want to grab something from its surface. The average height of a mattress and foundation is about 25”, so in turn, most commercial nightstands are around 24”-28” tall.

Three Main Types Of Nightstands

Like we mentioned earlier, nightstands come in all different sizes and we could go on forever if we wanted to list every specific kind of nightstand. In general, though, there are three types that are most common.

Bedside Chest – These nightstands are ideal for those looking for a little extra drawer space to keep their socks, underwear, etc., because they come equipped with two or three drawers for storage. Imagine a miniature dresser that fits right at your bedside.

bedside chest nightstand
A look at a bedside chest with two drawers

Bedside Cabinets – A bedside cabinet is similar to a bedside chest because it comes with extra storage, but it’s split between one or two drawers and…you guessed it — a cabinet. This space comes in handy when you want to keep larger items like an alarm clock out of sight, but still near your bedside.

bedside cabinet nightstand
A wooden bedside cabinet with one drawer and one cabinet

Bedside Table – A bedside table is more for looks and aesthetic purposes than functionality, although some may come with a small drawer for extra storage space. But for the most part, their main purpose is to look nice and hold small items like a lamp or houseplant.

Bedside Table nightstand
A charming, but small bedside table

Take Proper Measurements

Before you start the search for your perfect nightstand (or two if you want a matching set), first you’ll want to measure the height of your mattress on its bed frame. Remember, you want your next nightstand to be level and or a few inches taller than your mattress. If your bed is resting on a flat platform base, your measurement may come out to be on the lower end around 18”. On the other hand, if you have a canopy bed or an adjustable bed frame, your measurement might come out to be higher — around 36”. As you can see, there is a significant difference between the two so you want to make sure your next nightstand properly measures up to your mattress.

When you’re shopping for a new nightstand, you also want to consider its width, depth, and how its size compares to your mattress. For example, if you sleep on a king or California king mattress, you’ll probably be better off with a larger chest or bedside cabinet to compliment your larger sized bed. Those of you who sleep on a twin mattress, however, might want to pair it with a slim bedside table instead.

You should also be wary of nightstands with a depth larger than 24” to prevent yourself from bumping into it when you’re hopping in and out of bed. There aren’t many things worse than accidentally ramming your shin into a solid surface, especially if it’s a sharp corner.

Other Considerations When Picking Out A Nightstand

  • Storage Space – How important is extra storage space to you, do you need a few extra drawers to keep papers, your sleep mask, electronic chords, etc.? If so, you might want to stick with a bedside chest or cabinet. A table may look real nice in your bedroom, but it won’t necessarily function the way you need it to.
  • Surface Area Of Tabletop – All this talk about how tall a nightstand should be, we haven’t even touched on the appropriate surface area of a nightstand’s tabletop. It really all depends on the objects you want on your nightstand. If you just keep a small bedside lamp and water bottle at your bedside, most nightstands should be able to accommodate that. If you’re like me (Slumber Yard member McKenzie) and keep a decorative lamp, essential oil diffuser, and wireless phone charger perched on your nightstand, however, you’ll want to ensure the one you find has a top with a suitably sized surface area.
  • Style Of Nightstand – The style of your bedroom should help you determine the look you want your nightstand to have, and you want to choose one that flows well with the rest of the furniture in your room. For example, you probably wouldn’t want a vintage, antique looking bedside stand in your contemporary styled master bedroom.

There are literally hundreds of nightstands on the market both online and in-store, so the right one for you is out there! It just might take a little research to find it.