What A Sleep Expert Keeps On Her Nightstand

Keep these nighttime and morning essentials an arm's reach away.

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Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to our health, and yet it feels out of reach for so many people. It could be the result of lifelong insomnia, having an infant or small child in the home or even random external stimuli like living on a noisy street. Whatever the cause, the ramifications of a lack of sleep are far-reaching and can have serious health implications. There are, however, small lifestyle tweaks that can be made that might aid in a better night’s sleep, including, surprisingly, adding a few helpful items to your nightstand.

To get a better understanding of how we can all get quality rest, HuffPost spoke to Susan Rubman, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and sleep medicine at Yale University. She noted that there are a few basic things we should be doing as a nightly baseline to ensure better sleep quality:

  1. Maintaining a consistent wakeup time.
  2. Avoiding caffeine or stimulating substances prior to bedtime. (Caffeine has a six-hour half-life, so her recommendation is to not have any within six hours of bedtime.)
  3. Go to bed when you’re sleepy, as opposed to trying to force it when you aren’t. Sleep is not an at-will behavior. We can eat when we’re not hungry, but can’t really sleep unless our body is prepared to sleep.
  4. Make your environment sleep-friendly — cool, dark and quiet.

A surprisingly important part of your sleep environment involves your bedside table and its contents. Having sleep aids easily accessible while banishing items that might disrupt rest is a key component. “It’s important to make sure that the environment in the bedroom really sets the stage for getting into bed and going to sleep,” Rubman said. “Clear clutter away and reserve the nightstand for items that are helpful for sleep.”

Since we are all unique creatures, Rubman noted that there is a lot of variability between what individuals might need on their nightstands, but there are many things that can be universally helpful. This includes a pleasant light source that isn’t too bright, any medications you may need through the night so you don’t have to get up and hunt for them, a glass of water and reading materials. Objects like earplugs, a good-quality sleep mask, aromatherapy and a sound machine can also make a big difference.

Rubman’s own nightstand includes practical items like hand lotion, a spot for her glasses and a glass of water, alongside items that are personally pleasing, like a small memento from a vacation, a handmade ceramic bowl for her jewelry and a crossword puzzle.

Below, we’ve rounded up a list of items for your bedside table based on Rubman’s recommendations. They just might be exactly what you need to get the rest your body is truly craving — and at the very least, having a thoughtfully organized nightstand will give you a bit of peace of mind.

1. A contoured sleep mask

This popular sleep mask on Amazon is made with low-rebound memory foam that is soft, comfortable, durable and doesn't put pressure on the eyes in the way that flat masks do. It effectively blocks out light while still making it possible to blink, and has an adjustable buckle strap that won't get tangled in your hair.

$19.99 at Amazon

2. Mack's silicone putty earplugs

These bestselling earplugs are made with soft, moldable silicone putty that can accommodate all ears. They create a comfortable seal that keeps out sounds like snoring, street noise and more.

$8.99 at Amazon

3. Courant Catch: 3 Essentials charging station and catchall dish

Rubman recommends having a dedicated space for items like glasses and even your phone, and this charging station from Courant is perfect. It doubles as a catchall that is the perfect place to store your spectacles, jewelry and lip balm. It's available in a leather finish in five colors or in a soft linen finish in four colors. It is an elegant way to charge your phone and keep your bedside table tidy overnight.

$100 at Courant

4. Homedics white noise machine

The popular Homedics white noise machine has six digitally recorded sounds to choose from including standard white noise, each of which mimic the natural environment to ensure a comforting, relaxing experience. It can play sounds continuously through the night or you can pick from three timer settings.

$21.99 at Amazon

5. A clip-on book light

Book lights are the perfect way to get some reading in before bed without overstimulating your senses with bright overhead lights. They're perfect for when your partner wants to sleep before you do or if you wake up in the middle of the night and need some help getting back to sleep without looking at your phone.

$11.19 at Amazon

6. Grown Alchemist intensive hand cream

This incredibly nourishing hand cream from Grown Alchemist is infused with hyaluronic acid as well as botanical extracts like Persian rose and argan that will soothe dry, cracked hands. Make this a part of your nightly routine to keep your hardworking hands soft, youthful and moisturized.

$27 at Dermstore

7. Catbird mini jewelry dish

This sweet fiberglass tray from Catbird is made in their signature muted pink shade and is adorned with a sprinkling of stars and the moon along with a lovely motto. Grab one for yourself and another to gift a loved one and keep your jewelry safe overnight.

$12 at Catbird

8. A ceramic essential oil diffuser

This handcrafted ceramic essential oil diffuser is as aesthetically pleasing as it is relaxing. Set the mood for good dreams while you pump some moisture into the air alongside comforting essential oils like lavender or peppermint. It's quiet and can help to relieve stress and promote deep, restful sleep.

$42.99 at Amazon

9. Crate & Barrel clear glass carafe

Save yourself a trip to the kitchen by keeping a glass of water at hand in case you wake up thirsty. These clear glass carafes from Crate & Barrel are an elegant combination of pitcher and tumbler in one with a clean silhouette that will look fabulous with any aesthetic. It's just as much a design piece as it is functional.

$24.99 at Crate & Barrel

10. "The Ultimate Brain Health Puzzle Book for Adults"

If need a way to unwind before bed that isn't doom scrolling or are the type of sleeper that wakes up with insomnia, this highly-rated puzzle book for adults will keep your brain occupied and nimble without overstimulating the senses. It features a variety of puzzles like crosswords, cryptograms and Sudoku.

$9.69 at Amazon

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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