A nightstand, alternatively night table or bedside table, is a small table or cabinet designed to stand beside a bed or elsewhere in a bedroom. It serves the role of a coffee table during nighttime hours, at a person's bedside.
Before indoor flushing toilets became commonplace, the main function of a nightstand was to contain a chamber pot. As a result, early nightstands were often small cabinets, sometimes fitted with a drawer, and usually containing an enclosed storage space below covered by one or more doors. Another term sometimes given to such cabinets was commode.
Traditional nightstand showing space (lower) for a chamber pot
Modern nightstands are usually small bedside tables, often with a drawer. They are often used to support items that might be useful during the night, such as a lamp, alarm clock, mobile phone, desktop intercom, reading matter, a glass of water, or medication.
French, Italian and Spanish antique nightstands usually have one drawer and an enclosed storage space with one door. They can be embellished with gold leaf finish, bronze or parquetry inlaid.