10 Best Light Therapy Lamps on Amazon for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Learn how bright light exposure can help alleviate the symptoms of season affective disorder, and check out the highly rated light therapy lamps on Amazon that meet the expert criteria.
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Light therapy lamps for SAD
Winter weather can come with many frustrations—the need to layer up, increased risk of cold and flu symptoms, and also this list of weird things that happen to your body in the winter.
But the effects of seasonal affective disorder or SAD can be among the most debilitating. “SAD is a type of depression that’s related to a change in seasons,” says Nina Maisterra, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at the University of Washington in Seattle. “If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” The symptoms may start out mild but become more severe as the season progresses, she says.
While SAD shares some of the indicators of depression like sadness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and withdrawing from family and friends, there are unique symptoms of SAD, says Norman Rosenthal, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School in Washington, D.C., and the doctor who first described the condition. “People get low energy and have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning; they need more sleep and when awake they are fatigued; and they eat more, especially sweets and starches,” he explains.
One of the first, and most effective, treatment options is a light therapy box, Dr. Rosenthal says. “It’s very time-efficient, cost-effective, and has low side effects,” he says. An analysis of 19 studies of light therapy treating SAD, published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found light boxes can be regarded as an effective treatment for SAD. And light therapy may be so effective that it has the potential in treating other types of depression, compared with Prozac, according to a 2016 peer-reviewed study in JAMA Psychiatry.
The light appears to activate connections between the retina and the brain involved in emotional and chemical regulation, Dr. Rosenthal explains. “It seems as though the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is the chemical some antidepressants work on, are also influenced and activated by light.” He says that in the darker months the pathways between the eye and the brain don’t register as powerfully because there isn’t enough light to trigger them, so supplementing light intake in individuals with SAD will help activate the pathway which is connected to key mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Here are 10 of the best light therapy lamps to help alleviate symptoms of SAD, according to reviews on Amazon.
Carex Day-Light Classic Plus
Designed similar to the models university researchers use to study the effectiveness of light therapy lamps, this full-spectrum light is easily adjustable in terms of height and angle. Mounted on a pedestal stand, the light projects downward, an angle that light-therapy experts recommend. This light is multi-functional with two settings, therapy and task, so it’s also a useful work lamp. Tip: Dr. Rosenthal advises looking for a light therapy device that gives off 10,000 lux of light, which is the intensity that has been studied in the research.
Northern Light Technologies Flamingo
A 46-inch-tall floor lamp, the stylish Flamingo is fashionably at home in any décor, brightening reading areas or workspaces. The novel Northern Light Technology design enables the light to be used while on an exercise bike or treadmill. The extra-long power cord allows you to position the Flamingo wherever you need the rejuvenating light. Dr. Rosenthal advises to make sure the lamp has an illuminated surface area of at least a square foot so you are absorbing enough light for a therapeutic dose. And make sure the device has a UV screen so you are not exposing yourself to damaging rays, he cautions.
Sunrise Sensations DayBright
Made from sustainable wood, this modern designed therapy light lamp beautifully blends form and function. A remote control adjusts brightness settings from 5,000 lux to more than 10,000 lux in the broad surface of the light panel. The light also allows you to toggle through preset light phases which simulate sunlight from morning to evening. Dr. Maisterra suggests using the lamp within the first hour of waking in the morning for about 30 minutes. You should position the lamp about 16 to 24 inches in front of you and not look directly into the light.
GLIME Happy Sun Lamp
With three settings—6000, 10,000, 32,000 lux—this portable therapy light has dimensions and weight as a tablet. Pre-set with 10-minute, 20-minute and 30-minute timers, the Happy Sun Lamp will power off a light therapy session. Similar to a tablet, this device has a foldable bracket that allows you to set it up just about anywhere. Aside from using bright light therapy, these 14 little habits can help you avoid seasonal affective disorder.
Carex Theralite Aura
This light can be used as a desk lamp and for light therapy, and the height and angle of light are easily adjustable. The lamp has four light settings and includes 168 energy-efficient LED lights for light therapy or work at a desk. Using a light box means the weather doesn’t have to get the best of you. Here are other things about SAD that psychologists wish you knew.
Aura Daylight Lamp
With over 200 five-star reviews, the sleekly designed, the Aura Daylight Lamp is an Amazon favorite. It allows light output to be set between 3,500 lux and 10,000 lux. For a comfortable position, the light can be tilted at a 70- or 85-degree angle and easily mounts to a wall in addition to setting on a table. An internal timer can be set at 10-minute intervals and can be set to automatically turn off at the end of a session.
Serfory Light Energy Therapy Lamp
With the same surface area of two tablets for more light exposure, this lamp offers three timer settings, three light colors, and five brightness levels–from 25 percent or 2,500 lux up to 100 percent and 10,000 lux. Styled similar to a desktop computer monitor, the lamp can be angled for maximum benefit. If you’re not sure what your symptoms mean, here are some warning signs for SAD that are easy to overlook.
Northern Light Technologies BOXelite Desk Lamp
This delivers 10,000 lux at 14 inches distance from the screen, making it easier to receive the SAD-busting lights. With classic, understated styling, this lamp is ideal for the office or home. This lamp is also handy to have for any other work or home tasks that require additional lighting. Your eyes should be open so your retina is absorbing light, so you can read or eat breakfast while taking advantage of your light therapy box, Dr. Maisterra suggests.
Circadian Optics Lattis
Is it a piece of art or a light therapy lamp? Both! As seen on “Shark Tank,” this lamp combines style and function in an elegant, artful way. Simple to use, the Lattis has one-touch operation with no complicated set up and three levels of light. And just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get natural light. You can still take a walk outside and enjoy the benefits of natural light.
SAKOBS Bright White Therapy Light
This slim, portable lamp is one of the most affordable models among the top-rated Amazon therapy lights. The slim profile is designed for easy packing and travel. The lamp includes a 360-degree standing bracket, enabling you to optimally position the lamp just about anywhere. The SAKOBS lamp offers four timer settings from 15 to 60 minutes and three brightness levels, 2000 lux, 10,000 lux and 12,000 lux. Find out if your symptoms go beyond SAD and could indicate clinical depression or everyday sadness.
Before trying light therapy, Dr. Maisterra warns that you should speak to a doctor because the lamps can induce manic episodes in those with bipolar episodes. To find out what it’s like to try light therapy, this is one woman’s story about how using a light therapy device worked for her.
- Nina Maisterra, MD, board-certified family medicine physician at the University of Washington in Seattle
- Norman Rosenthal, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School in Washington, D.C.; author of Winter Blues
- Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics: "The Efficacy of Light Therapy in the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- JAMA Psychiatry: "Efficacy of Bright Light Treatment, Fluoxetine, and the Combination in Patients with Nonseasonal Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial."