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What is a Bedside Lamp?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A bedside lamp is a light that is placed next to a bed. It is usually small in size so it can fit on a nightstand or table, but basically any lamp designed to be near the bed could be called a bedside lamp. Some bedside lamps are clip-on types that attach to a shelf or bed post, while others are attached to the wall.

The classic style of inexpensive bedside lamp is a small ceramic or plastic table lamp with a fabric or vinyl shade. These are often sold in neutral colors such as white, tan or black as well as pastels and popular decorator colors. Bedside lamps may be sold in pairs since bedrooms with a double or queen-size bed usually have two nightstands or bedside tables.

Small metal gooseneck desk lamps may also be used as bedside lamps. These are often practical for reading lights since the flexible gooseneck section between the lamp base and the shade can be adjusted. When reading in bed, the glare from the light bulb in a bedside lamp shouldn't be in the eyes. The amount of light from bedside lamps should be enough to comfortably see the reading material without putting strain on the eyes.

Another type of bedside reading lamp is the clip-on type. These lights are usually very small and they clip onto a bed rail or a shelf. Other types of space saving bedside lamps attach to the wall and swing outward on a metal arm mechanism when needed. The swing-out bedside lamp style is often quite contemporary in design and may feature an aluminum base.

Although a bedside lamp is a light used at night, it's not the same as a night light. A night light usually refers to the very small lights that plug into an electrical socket and give a very dim glow. They aren't made for reading or for giving a high amount of light to the bedroom or hallway. Floor lamps usually aren't used as bedside lamps unless they have a table area of some type attached to them so that they also serve as a nightstand. Many people prefer some type of shelf or table near the bed to hold items such as an alarm clock, reading material and water glass, as well as a table lamp.

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Discussion Comments

By Pippinwhite — On Oct 31, 2014

My husband and I both have bedside table lamps, along with our own nightstands and alarm clocks. Because we work different shifts, usually one or both of those bedside reading lamps will be on all night. I had to look for a bedside lamp shade that allows me to read in bed but doesn't shine light all over the room while he's trying to sleep.

I wouldn't mind having a more contemporary bedside lamp arrangement, because we didn't buy matching lamps and it looks a little clunky. I think that bedside lamps should match each other and the style of the bed itself.

By Grivusangel — On Oct 31, 2014

I love my bedside lamp. I like to read before bedtime, and my husband just wants to turn out the lights and go right to sleep. Now I can use the bedside reading lamp and I won't bother him much. He says he can still sleep with that bedside light on, since the shade keeps the light out of his eyes. I also like having a light source I can reach if I wake up in the middle of the night and want to check the alarm clock.

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