Doctors and therapists have a lot to say about sleep hygiene. They warn us about the effects of blue light (from phones and laptops) and advise us to leave the bedroom for bed … and bed-related activities. But for a lot of us, reading in bed is a legitimate need. And for those who live in small apartments, your bedroom, and your office occupy the same square footage.
In both these cases, headboard lights are a great way to save space while facilitating your nighttime reading. They also make great mood lights if you buy the right ones. But how do you know they’re the right lights for your bedroom? Start with lumens – they should be bright enough to read but not so loud that they keep your partner awake or stop you dozing off.
Unless of course you routinely work all night, in which case you want wakeful color temperatures. But that would mean you need a bedside light, not a headboard-mounted one. You’ll need to check for wattage as well – the lower the better. LED lights are great at maximizing lumens while minimizing wattage. What else should you look out for?
Our Best Headboard Reading Light & Lamp
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- 10 Lighting Tips for Reading
Headboard Reading Light/Lamp Buying Guides
Tip #1 – Type of Bulb
Contemporary beds don’t always have headboards. But those that do will sometimes come with headboard lights pre-installed. In such cases, you just need to buy a bulb, and you want to be sure it’s the right one. Check whether it’s a screw-in bulb or a bayonet. You can also get a lampshade if your headboard doesn’t have one – the glare of a naked bulb can be annoying.
Apart from the fitting, decide whether you want incandescent, halogen, CFL, or LED bulbs. LED reading lights have the highest lumen-per-watt ratio so they use minimal electricity. Sometimes as much as 90% less for the same luminosity! But not all LEDs are removable – some are sealed.
So if LEDs are a deal-breaker, consider buying a model like the C1 reading light. Its bulb can’t be replaced, but the reading lamp will last 5 to 10 years. Anecdotally, some buyers have used the same LED reading lamp for 20 years. This saves wastage since you rarely have to replace it.
Tip #2 – Type of Headboard
The average bed is made of wood, though metallic beds (and plastic ones) are gaining popularity. And even with mass-produced beds, the headboard is sometimes padded with foam and fabric. High-end beds may have studs, buttons, and tufts. This will all influence the type of reading light you can mount. You may have to peel off the upholstery, and that can get messy!
Talk to your local hardware attendant or carpentry shop to get advice on the type of headboard light that can be installed on your bed. Some headboard lights are versatile enough to mount on wooden surfaces or even concrete walls so they’re likely to suit your needs. Have a look at A1, A1 Pro, A2, and C1 Models if that’s up your alley – they’re easy to install and they don’t take up much space on the bed.
Tip #3 – Number of Users
Do you sleep alone? This may seem like a rude question, but for the purposes of headboard reading lights, it’s a crucial one. If you have twin beds, each headboard can have a separate light. But if your bed is shared, you have a few more decisions. One light or two (or even three)? Centrally positioned or off to the side? One switch or two? Pull-chain or touch-switch?
Ideally, you want reading lights that have independent switches. Lampshades are useful too. They keep the glare out of your eyes but they also ease discomfort for your sleeping partner. The best headboard lights use pull-chains because it’s easier to reach out and tug then than it is to stretch and press a switch. Dimmers are helpful too, especially for your bedmate.
Tip #3 – Bedtime Accessories
A lot of us check our phones just before we fall asleep and the first thing when we wake up. You might leave the phone on the bedside table or tuck it under your pillow. In either case, you want a charging port close enough to keep your phone alive. This might be tricky of you construct a DIY headboard lamp. But if you’re buying a ready-made lamp, get one with a USB port.
A good example is the A1 Pro, A2, and C1 reading light which has a 5V USB jack built into the base of the reading lamp. You can plug the reading light into a socket or wire it behind the wall. Either way, the lamp will charge your phone or smart device without lowering illumination. These XXX lights have dimmer switches too, so you can turn the light down low to avoid phone glare fatigue.
Tip #4 – Bed Size
You’ll probably take this tip for granted, but it does make a difference. It’s not just about the weight of the bed. Some headboard lights are bulky and might overwhelm a small bed. Especially if you live in a studio apartment. The concept of a headboard light is ideal for small homes, but the light itself should be small to avoid crowding your sleeping space.
The A1, A1 Pro, and A2 reading lamps have slim silhouettes. Their circular mounting bases are less than 3 inches in diameter and their slim arms are subtle enough to tuck out of the way. You could easily install two or three of these lights, even on a small 6 x 3 bed. And they have elongated power cords of up to 10 feet, so you can reach the socket from anywhere in the room.
Tip #5 – Installation Process
Some headboard lights are remarkably easy to install. Some come in strips with self-adhesive tape so you just need to press them into place. Others require hacking, sawing, and drilling. So if your carpentry skills are superior, you can buy complex headboard lights. Otherwise, you may have to pay extra for safe, professional installation. Otherwise, you’ll ruin your bed.
This is especially important for the wiring. You want to lay the cables and cords in a way that prevents tripping. And if it’s a heavy bed, you may need extra hands to push it away from the wall (and push it back after installation). You might even have to remove the upholstery, lay your cabling, then repair or replace the fabrics, foam, and furniture panels, so shop carefully!
Tip #6 – Functionality
What specific reading activities do you do in bed? Do you just want a low light to mitigate the darkness as you review your night-time social media feed? In such cases, multi-colored LED strips may be sufficient. They’re dimmer than white light, so they won’t keep you too wide awake, but they reduce the contrast of the darkened room, so they’re better for your eyes.
After all, reduces contrast means less eye fatigue, fewer headaches, and less sleep disruption. If your bedtime reading is a textual lullaby, get low-lumen lights that are 3,000K or less. But if your headboard light is a task light for serious work or long-term night shifts, get a light that’s 500 to 600 lumens. You can go as high as 1,000 lumens if you need to stay alert and focused.
Tip #7 – Style Selection
Headboard lights come in various designs. You could get a plain, unadorned one like the A1, A1 Pro, and A2 Models. You could make something fancy with decorative light fixtures. You can buy headboard lights without lampshades or opt for something with glass bell housing. As a rule, avoid lampshades that make the light too dim. They might beat the purpose of reading in bed.
But if you’re worried about glare, you could get the A1, A1 Pro, and A2 Models with conical metal lampshades. Or the C1 Model with its sidelights. Both these models control the direction, diffusion, and arc of your headboard light. Sidelights are diffuse while narrow lampshades are micro-spotlights. These metallic lampshades are fitted with permanent LED lights keep the casing warm, not hot.
Tip #8 – Reach
We talked about pull-chains earlier, but that’s not your only option. Some contemporary reading lights have rotary lampshades and flexible arms. The lampshades can spin the bulb up to 320° while others can swivel a full 360°. These spinning heads can be paired with adjustable arms.
These could take the form of a pivoted arm, an arched gooseneck, or a bendy arm that can flex in multiple directions. This latter system is used in A1, A1 Pro, and A2 headboard lights. The flexible arm is between 16 inches and 18 inches, depending on the model you buy. So even if it’s centrally mounted, you can easily tug it to your side of the bed and avoid bugging your bedmate.
Tip #9 – Non-Reading Needs
Are you afraid of the dark? Or do you have a small bladder? Traditionally, night lights are for kids and elderly (grand)parents. It helps with their endless bathroom breaks and can prevent accidents and midnight emergency trips caused by stubbed furniture. But even a regular adult can benefit from a nightlight. It helps you navigate the room in the dark without waking up.
To be clear, those midnight toilet trips can make it hard to get back to sleep. So want a nightlight dim enough to keep you from falling over in the dark. But it must have low lumens and light temperatures so it doesn’t break your sleep cycle. You want to be drowsy but lucid.
Headboard lights sometimes have a night-mode with colored lights in blue, red, or green. The C1 reading light has a red night light that you can switch on using the main operating button. This red light is ideal for intimate moments, so you can use ‘regular mode’ for yourself and ‘red mode’ when you’re playing with your partner. And you can adjust the brightness of both to suit your needs.
Do you have reading lights mounted on your headboard? Show us a photo in the comments!