How Tall Should Bedside Lamps Be? – Choosing the Right Size

Those of us with bedside lamps know how often they can get in the way when you move around or stretch in bed. If knocking off your giant lampshade is a common occurrence, perhaps your lamp is too big. So what’s the ideal height for a bedside lamp?

Bedside lamps should be as tall as one-third the width of your mattress. As such, the height depends on the size of your bed. When your mattress is thicker than the height of the lamp it reduces the chances of you knocking the lamp off in your sleep.

In this article, I will discuss how to choose the ideal bedside lamp in relation to your bed. Read on to learn more.

General Tips for Placing Lamps

When choosing a lamp for your nightstand, there are some basic tips you can follow to make the process easier. Following these simple rules will result in a stylish and symmetrical illuminated space with proper lighting.

  • Move things around. Sometimes you end up buying a lamp that’s too big or too small, but you can’t throw it out just because it’s not the right size! If you end up getting one that’s too tall for the bedside table, simply place the lamp on a shorter table. If you have a lamp that’s too short, place it on top of a stack of books.
  • Ensure all lamps are the same height. If you’ve got multiple lamps in the room, space them out or place them at different, appealing angles. Multiple lamps at different heights can give off strange lighting if they’re crowded together too closely.
  • Match the light to the tone of the room. For example, a bright red lamp will not suit a bedroom with an overall blue theme. By keeping the colors complementary you can prevent the jarring effect produced by clashing themes.

The Ideal Bedside Lamp

Bedside lamps are essential because people don’t just use their beds to sleep. Most of us read, watch television, talk on the phone, play video games, knit, eat snacks, and relax in bed. Not to mention, sometimes you need lighting for midnight bathroom visits.

The point of the bedside lamp is to provide light should any of these activities take place during the night.

And for a lamp to adequately light up your space it needs to be placed at the ideal height. For instance, if you decide to read in bed at night, a lamp that’s too tall will throw unnecessary glare into your eyes. Conversely, a short lamp won’t shed enough light on your book.

To avoid the problem of having to deal with awkward reading light, focus on the height of your lamp’s shade. The top of the lamp shade needs to be at least at shoulder level when you’re sitting up in bed. This height will allow the lamp to shed its light over your shoulder and onto the book.

Here are some excellent reading lamps from that will provide adequate lighting in your bedroom.

  • The Ominilight LED Desk Lamp has a modern look and comes without a lampshade. It’s a popular option due to the convenience it provides to bedside readers.The “gooseneck” design allows you to adjust the aim of the light to your liking, and it has three dimming levels.
  • The Encomli Dimmable Table Lamps come in a set of two and have a more vintage, farmhouse aesthetic. As the name implies, they can be easily dimmed to adjust to the kind of lighting you’re looking for. This fancy lamp also comes with a USB charging port, allowing you to charge your devices while you sleep.
  • The Shine Hai Touch Control Table Lamp is perfect for the minimalist. Its design is simple, modern, and elegant with three levels of lighting and two USB ports. According to the product description, you can charge three different devices simultaneously.

Choosing the Right Lampshade

Now that we know the importance of a lampshade’s height, how do we go about choosing the right one? There are many different styles of lampshades made from different materials. While the variety is exciting, it can be complicated to select one that suits your requirements.

Here are a few different types of lampshades to choose from:

  • Bell shades: These are probably the most common lampshades out there. Bell-shaped lampshades are, as their name suggests, shaped like bells. They are narrow at the top and flared at the bottom.
  • Empire shades: Another standard lampshade, this version is shaped like a bell lampshade, except the flare is straightened out rather than curved. They’re pretty much a more modern version of the Bell Shade.
  • Nautical shades: These lampshades have a quaint sea theme. Some are made from grasscloth and cotton and many have beach motifs featuring seashells and anchors.
  • Rustic shades: These lampshades are similar in shape to the Bell and Empire lampshades. What makes Rustic Shades different is the pattern on the lampshade. The design is often reminiscent of farmhouse or country decor.
  • Colorful patterned shades: These lampshades are meant for fun and to brighten up living spaces. Their patterns can range from a simple flower print to an entire painting. The lampshades typically resemble drums and are often referred to as “Drum Shades.”
  • Vintage-inspired shades: Vintage or “Bohemian” Inspired lampshades give a bedroom a certain elegance and charm, and convey a sort of nostalgic feel to the space. They are made of many materials and come in multiple shapes and designs, some even exhibiting unique designs such as a ‘scallop dome.’
  • Pleated shades: As their name suggests, pleated lampshades have a material covering that is pleated. The pleats are typically several folds of material that resemble a ruffled gown.
  • Square and rectangular shades: These lampshades are generally found in the more modern designs of bedside lamps. These shades are often square or rectangular in shape and of one uniform color, typically white.

One Lamp or Two?

Though every bed has two sides, you don’t necessarily need two lamps. Sometimes the room may be too small or the bed may be pushed against a wall. Additionally, the occupant may prefer only one lamp. The number of lamps depends on the size of the room and the taste of the occupant.

For those concerned with improving the aesthetic appeal of their rooms, two matching lamps on either side of the bed are ideal. If you want something more unique you can even get one regular lamp and one other that matches a piece of decor in your room. For example, you may choose a lamp that matches your bookshelf, alarm clock, or a nearby vase.

Here are some stylish lamps from to get you started:

  • The Robert Louis Tiffany Lamps have a rustic style that suits a home with gothic decor. In the first image, you can find these lamps matched with a black vase containing a plant. The vase matches the black and red theme of the lamps quite well. These lamps can be purchased as a set or individually.
  • This WERFACTORY Tiffany Style Lamp is beautifully crafted using stained glass. The piece stands at 22 inches tall and has a lovely azure-blue theme. According to the product description, this piece is made using material of high quality. Aside from the beautifully painted lamp, the lampshade is also made from stained glass.

Your Bedside Lamp vs. the Headboard

Now that we’ve covered the height and style of a good bedside lamp, it’s crucial to take a look at its placement. When it comes to placing a bedroom lamp, remember that the headboard of your bed is always going to be the focal point of the room. By keeping this in mind you can gauge where to place every other item in your room.

As such, it’s imperative to consider the height of your lamp in relation to the height of your headboard. In this instance, the top of your lamp should be in line with the top of your headboard. For example, if your headboard is unusually tall, you want a taller bedside lamp so it lines up beside it.

However, if your headboard is short, or you don’t have a headboard at all, a shorter bedside lamp will suit the aesthetic of the room better. You want to place this lamp keeping the headboard in mind, so you may need to place it on an elevated surface on the floor.

However, if you’re a nighttime reader and require a taller lamp, you may want to consider a small book light or a wall lamp attached to the wall behind your bed.


When selecting the appropriate bedside lamp it’s imperative that you consider its height, design, and placement in the room. While it may not seem like much, the right bedside lamp can elevate the aesthetic of the room and make the environment more relaxing.

So it’s best to take these factors into consideration before you invest in a bedside lamp, By exploring the various options out there you can create a pleasant bedroom environment.

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