Not all of us belong to the cult of ‘Netflix and Chill’. So if you prefer your bedtime entertainment in written form, you need a good reading light for bed. Bedside lamps have a few unique requirements that other desk lamps might not. For example, you do want a lot of lumens to avoid straining your eyes. But not so many that they stop you from drifting off to sleep.
Your reading light for bed should also have a low wattage. This is because different parts of the house are allocated pre-set amounts of power. Your bedroom is mostly for sleep, so unless you have an adjoining bathroom with hairdryers, shaving sockets, and a hot tub, you probably have limited electricity in the bed-chamber. So consider buying a low-watt LED bulb for the dresser.
The number of watts will affect your selection of a bedside lamp, but it will also affect the type of bulb you select. And this – in turn – will influence the lamp you purchase. You might opt for a sealed reading light like the stylish bedside LED reading light (A2 Model). Or you might prefer a replaceable bulb. What other factors should you consider as you shop?
Our Best Reading Light & Lamp for Bed
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Reading Light & Lamp for Bed Buying Guide
Tip #1 – Mounting Options
Your bedroom is sure to have a primary light fixture, whether it’s a chandelier or recessed lighting. Your reading lamp is an additional task light specifically for late-night reading. So you want to place it somewhere near the bed. You have three installation options – wall-mounting, bed-mounting, or desktop-mounting. Desktop reading lights are generally portable.
For a wall-mounted option, you can buy a bedside light that sits in a side sconce next to the bed. You’ll have to position it carefully to avoid glare, and it will need an independent lampshade. For a side sconce light, get a pull-chain. It’s easier to tug it without getting out of bed. Alternatively, buy a bed-mounted lamp like the dimmable gooseneck reading light (A1 Model). It barely weighs a pound so it won’t weigh down the bed.
Tip #2 – Bedroom Occupants
Is the reading for your bed, your kids’ study nook, or your elderly parents’ bedroom? All three cases could benefit from a night light. In a couple’s room, the night light is a sexy tool for intimate moments. For seniors, it can guide them through their countless potty breaks without making them too wakeful. And for kids, it’s a great guardian angel against nightmares.
Pick a bulb that has a convenient switch to turn on ‘night mode’. In some models, you can activate the night light using the same button as the main light. This night light is usually colored, and the most popular selections are red, blue, or green. For kids, you can pick a multicolored LED that cycles through a pre-set rainbow. It’ll help lull the children to bed.
Tip #3 – Aesthetics
If you’re using a reading light in bed, it means your roommate is probably asleep. (If they were awake or in another room, you’d probably use the main bedroom light instead). And since it’s dark and you’re focused, the appearance of the light won’t matter much. But during the day, your reading lamp is still on display. So it helps to get one that suits your bedroom décor.
Pick a light with black or metallic finishes, since they’re versatile enough to fit almost any decorative theme. But you could also opt for fancy wall-mounted bedroom lights. Just be sure they’re bright enough – decorative lights tend to veer towards subtly and low luminosity. It’s also useful to get a light with a dimmer to avoid disturbing your sleeping partner.
Tip #4 – Adjustable Angles
When you’re buying a reading lamp for your bed, you’re probably focused on reach. You want it in a place where you can stretch your arm and reach the light without much effort. This factor is crucial as you fumble for the switch in the dark, but also when you’re getting drowsy and you want to turn the light off without losing that wave of sleepiness. If you struggle, you’ll wake up!
So get a light with an adjustable arm or neck like the bedside reading light (C1 Model). Its bulb is positioned longitudinal, and the cylindrical lampshade that holds the bulb can spin 320°. It also has a flexible gooseneck arm that can turn 360°. But wobbly necks and rotary heads aren’t the only choices. You can buy a bed lamp that has a boom, swivel, or swing arm so you can pull it closer as needed.
Tip #5 – Comfort
Traditional tungsten lights are fading out of use, but you’ll still find them in some older homes. So if you’re shopping for your bedside lamp at a garage sale or antique store, it’s likely to be fitted with incandescent bulbs. This means your bedroom reading light will probably have lots of style and character. But it will also use five times more electricity than LED bulbs.
Beyond that, tungsten bulbs can get as hot as 6,500°F while LED bulbs remain well under 200°F. So if you’re reading for a while (and using incandescent lighting), the room will inevitably warm up and it may become cloying for both you and your bedmate. Opt for LED bedside lights instead, and check that their color temperature is below 3,000K.
Tip #6 – Techie Factors
These days, almost every household item can connect to the internet of things. So unless you design a bedside lamp from household items, the lamp beside your bed is sure to need some fancy techie features. You might want the kind of bedside lights you can turn on or off remotely (by clapping or using an app). For a modern bedroom, you need a minimum of one USB port.
This is because you have so many bedside devices – the laptop, the smartphone, wireless headphones, electric blankets, maybe even a digital stylus. And that doesn’t count your bed-mates gadgets. So you want a charger by the bed. And it shouldn’t crowd your shared space, so think about getting a bed light that has a USB jack on the side. The port should be at least 5V.
Tip #7 – Circadian Patterns
You probably spend a lot of time in your bedroom, and not just at night. But it’s possible you and your partner don’t have the same circadian rhythm. Maybe you’re a night owl and they’re a morning lark. Or maybe one of you works the afternoon shift and would rather sleep in. Color temperature helps because by keeping it below 3,000K, it’s less likely to disrupt sleep.
Warm lights of 2,000K to 3,000K promote relaxation, so if you have one of these beside your bed, you can use it instead of the main light. It primes your mind for sleep. But if your bedside lamp is for online work in a different time zone – work that needs you alert at 2.43 a.m., consider getting a cooler light of around 5,000K to stimulate your working mind.
Tip #8 – Durability
What do you use the bed lamp for, and how often? Some people only read for an hour before bed while others routinely burn the midnight oil. Maybe you’re reading your kids (or yourself) a bedtime story. Or maybe you’re registered for online night school. If you use the lamp minimally, you don’t need something fancy. Just get a table lamp or floor lamp.
These can be quite affordable and though the bulbs will only last a few months, replacement bulbs are cheap. But if you’re a heavy-duty user, invest in a bedside lamp that lasts 5 to 10 years. Check the warranty and the expected shelf life. Some LED bed lamps can be used continuously for up to 50,000 hours, so they’re worth considering, especially for students and night nurses.
Tip #9 – Power Points
Is your reading light installed on the headboard or mounted on the wall? Is the wiring concealed or does it plug into a socket? Wall-mounted bed lights are sometimes directly linked to your home’s main cabling. Instead of plugging into a visible outlet, they follow the electrical pathways behind the drywall and connect to your fuse box. In such cases, buy a lamp with hidden screws.
This maintains the clean, minimal finish of your bedroom. But if your bed lamp has an external plug, or if it’s a table lamp or floor lamp, consider the position of its power source. By a reading light whose cords are long enough to reach the electrical outlet without causing a tripping hazard. This will depend on the layout of your room … and you might need bedside drawers.
Tip #10 – Local Power Settings
Beyond the number and location of sockets, you should consider what your regional voltage is. European homes and offices use 220V to 240V while America uses 110V to 120V. So when you buy your bedroom lamp, think about the place it’s shipping from. You’ll have to get something that suits your local levels. But if you want an import, get a step-up or step-down adapter.
While you’re at it, check the type of plug your lamp has. Australia and European countries often have three-pronged rectangular plugs. America and Asia are more likely to have rounded pins in twos or threes. Some lamps have a mix of shorter rectangular plugs and a longer round one, or they might have flattened pins with holes in them. Be sure to buy one that matches your room.
What type of reading light do you use for your bed? Show us a photo in the comments!