person reading from bed with bedside reading lamp next to them

Best Bedside Lamps for Reading: How to Choose the Right One for You

/ July 27, 2022

It can help to do something relaxing before bed to lull your body into a more restful sleep. Reading is one such activity to wind down at night. 

A bedside lamp can make it so much easier to read from bed. Plus, it’s a better option than reading from an electronic device, which can emit blue light and disrupt your sleep.

“Reading is an excellent alternative to relaxing before bed and can be incorporated into a bedtime routine,” says Carleara Weiss, PhD, RN, sleep advisor for Aeroflow Sleep.

If you’re wondering how to choose the best bedside lamp for reading, you’re in luck. Below, we've rounded up what to look for in a reading lamp along with recommendations for the best bedside lights for reading.

How to choose the best bedside lamp for reading

First, understand the link between light and sleep

“Light helps synchronize our ‘biological clock,’ the circadian rhythms responsible for sleep and wake cycles during the day," explains Weiss. 

This synchronization happens through melatonin suppression. "Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in our pineal gland and tells our body when it is time to sleep," says Weiss. "Melatonin is suppressed by light, thus making it more difficult to fall asleep.” 

In other words, we need dim light at night to sleep and bright light in the morning to wake up. “Therefore, bedside lamps play an important role in sleep quality and composing a sleep-friendly environment,” says Weiss.

Consider a dimmable lamp

One of the most important features to look for in a bedside reading lamp is the ability to adjust brightness. Weiss says it can be helpful to have a dimmable lamp you can adjust in intensity throughout the day.

Think about the full spectrum of color

White light lamps have a full spectrum of color, including blue light, which has the strongest effect in suppressing melatonin. “Thus, white and blue-green lamps are ideal for daytime,” explains Weiss. 

Blue-green is particularly important within the first hour of waking up, says Weiss, while yellow and orange lamps are ideal for nighttime because they have minimal effect on melatonin suppression. 

The best bedside lamps for reading

Not sure where to turn when it comes to purchasing the best nightstand lamps for reading? Here are our top recommendations.  

Hatch Restore, $129.99: Weiss says the best features of this lamp include dimmable, adjusted brightness and light color for sleep and wake-up that you can control using an app. It also doubles as a white noise machine, offering music and sleep stories.

Hatch Rest+, $89.99: Weiss calls this lamp “a good option for kids.” It features soothing sounds, a customizable nightlight, and colors that help kids learn when it’s time to get up for the day. Reviewers are fans as well, noting it's helped their toddlers get a good night’s sleep and that it’s perfect for kids’ rooms.

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light, $99.95: “This bedside lamp is dimmable, has five different options for natural sounds, and mimics the sunrise to help you wake up in the morning,” Weiss says. “In addition, the display automatically dims itself when the bedroom gets dark, so you will not have unwanted exposure to light while sleeping.”


Is it safe for the eyes to read with a bedside lamp?

Eye safety is contingent on some precautions. “For example, staring at bright light can affect the retina and damage vision," says Weiss. She suggests avoiding bright white and cool lamps with fluorescent bulbs since those emit UV radiation. 

"Lastly, staring at blue light not only from bedside lamps but also from smartphones, tablets, and the TV, can cause eye strain, headache, and dizziness,” adds Weiss. 

What kind of lamp is best for reading in bed?

It’s ideal to purchase a bedside lamp that’s dimmable, has multiple light color options, and also includes some sleep-benefiting features, like nature sounds and sunrise-like light to wake you in the morning.

How many lumens should a reading light have?

Generally, experts recommend around 450 lumens, or units of visible light, for reading before bed. This can help prevent eye strain.  

Which reading lamp is best for kids?

The same rules for adult bedside lamps apply to ones for kids. Weiss says the best reading lamp for kids should follow the same brightness and wavelength (color) for eye safety and impacts on circadian rhythms and sleep.

“Certified anti-blue light and UV radiation hazards are best for kids,” she adds. “In addition, make sure that the lamp does not overheat and have the kids follow the 20-20-20 principle: turning the eyes 20 feet away from the lamp for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.”

Can watching television from bed ruin your sleep? Read up on the pros and cons of having a TV in the bedroom.

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