Which is the Best SAD Light Therapy Lamp?
Light Therapy Lamp Box Reviews: My Top Picks and Why
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is one of the most prevalent and undiagnosed medical conditions in the world. The amount of light our bodies are exposed to really does affect our mental health and physical well-being. If you're reading this, then chances are you're trying to find the best and most effective SAD therapy lamp for your dollar.
I live in a beautiful city in western Canada. I love living here, but we don't get nearly the amount of sunshine some of our southern neighbours do. The long winters really take a toll on one's body, both physically and mentally. If you live in a similar situation, a seasonal affective disorder light therapy lamp is something I can't recommend highly enough.
I have written this article in order to review a few of the lamps on the market. I'm going to take into account:
- the effectiveness of the light itself
- the features involved
- the size
- the price.
Hopefully this will save you some of the legwork needed to research products and demystify the technology.
How These Lamps Affect Your Therapy
I'm going to get into the reviews in just a moment. First, I wanted to touch on the technology you'll find in these things, and how that can affect you.
- Bulb type. Not all therapy boxes use the same type of bulb. Traditionally, the most common type of bulb is either incandescent or fluorescent, but lately light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have become very popular. Ultimately it's the quality of light you should worry about, and all three can be excellent, though some are more energy efficient (more on that in the reviews).
- Brightness. There are different schools of thought when it comes to brightness. Obviously the idea is to mimic the sunlight you're missing out on, but different products have varying brightness. It's something to consider, especially if you're sensitive to brightness.
- Blue or white light. Most SAD therapy lamps use a white light, but there are a fair few that use blue instead. Both can be effective, and it really depends on the lamp in particular and your preferences.
NatureBright: Affordable & Popular
is a good entry point into the positive benefits of a seasonal affective disorder lamp. It offers a lot of features at a very reasonable price point. It's by no means the most potent or powerful one I'm reviewing here, but it does the job well and it's one I recommend to newcomers. This fluorescent and portable lamp by NatureBright
- It offers 10,000 lux worth of light, but it's filtered to remove harmful ultraviolet wavelengths, and it's a lot easier to handle the brightness from this lamp than some of the more powerful models out there.
- As mentioned, it's also fairly portable. It won't really fit in a suitcase or a drawer, but it's not as bulky as some of the bigger models. Also, it's extremely stable, so you don't have to worry about some flimsy stand.
- It comes with a built-in timer that ranges from 15 minutes to an hour, so you'll get just the right amount of exposure.
- This lamp is perfect for sitting by the makeup stand or on the counter in the morning during breakfast.
- The quality is a light blue that's meant to mimic natural light on a clear day.
This is a great and affordable lamp for newbies.
Carex Day-Light: Versatile Treatment
Here is an example of a powerful . This is a very bright and potent lamp, and the light quality is exceptional. I particularly like the included stand, which is perfect for use while you work on the computer or laptop, so you can stay productive while you bask, making it great for both home or office use. SAD light therapy box by Carex
- This lamp uses three strong fluorescent light tubes that are flicker-free. They have a built-in ultraviolet filter that renders them safe for long periods of use. It can provide 10,000 lux worth of sun quality light, and it even mimics the angle you'd experience while outdoors, which is important. The brightness is quite strong, and can take some getting used to. That being said, it's great for conquering SAD symptoms in a short period of time.
- It also has a variable setting that lets you shut off some of the bulbs for a lower brightness.
- While it's small and lightweight, I wouldn't consider it portable. The box itself is around 21 inches wide, with the lamp being roughly the same size as a small computer monitor.
- It comes with an included stand to lift it up high and let you work.
- I should warn you, this lamp shouldn't be run all day. It does get rather hot, so it's not intended for all-day use. To reap the health benefits, you really only need to have it running for between 15 and 30 minutes anyway.
This is a great lamp with fantastic reviews, definitely worth a look.
Northern Lights: A Full System
Sometimes the fiddly little tabletop style lamps just aren't practical for your home. that's cleverly built to also serve as a floor lamp. It is absolutely perfect next to your couch or a cozy chair for reading while you do your therapy. Or you can have it in the office to use while you work. It's a great multi-purpose lamp, basically. This is a full-fledged SAD therapy box
- I really like this model because it's difficult to find a SAD therapy lamp that's also reasonably attractive. The only thing that really deviates from standard floor lamp design is the oversized fixture box. In attractive and modern black color, it looks great in almost any setting.
- The fixture itself is fully UV-blocked, and it provides the standard 10k lux that most lamps in this class muster. It is very bright, but the quality is very pleasant and warm, mimicking natural light very effectively.
- It uses fluorescent tubes, and for that reason it uses very little electricity for the amount of light produced. It's about the same as running a 45 watt incandescent bulb for energy consumption.
There's definitely something to be said for sitting under a light like this: You will feel warm and happy in no time. Also, with a 7-year warranty, you know it will last a long time. Check it out.
Caribbean Sun: An Energy Efficient Option
I wanted to include an example of a more powerful LED SAD therapy light box, and this model by Caribbean Sun is a great one. Again, it doesn't use traditional bulbs; instead, it relies on a bank of tiny light emitting diodes that provide exceptional brightness and quality while using very little energy and producing almost no heat.
- It's great for general desk use.
- The upshot is that this is a very safe and efficient box to be running for long periods of time.
- The combination of LEDs provides around 10k lux of bright, cool white light. Also, like the others, there is an effective UV filter to make sure it's healthy for prolonged use.
- Despite the power and potency, this one is quite portable and easy to travel with. You can carry it from home to work and back easily in your briefcase. Because LEDs are quite robust, this lamp is very durable and far less fragile than its fluorescent competitors.
- It weighs a total of 3 pounds, with a steel construction. The power draw is tiny: this light is equivalent to a 9-watt bulb.
Light Therapy for SAD Poll:
What symptoms are you trying to alleviate?
Additional Tips and Warnings:
I'm glad that you're interested in SAD therapy and the benefits of a light box like the ones I've listed here. You should be aware of how to use them, though. I'd encourage you to consult with your doctor or naturopath about the benefits and issues involved, it can be eye-opening.
Here are a few more tips that I hope will help:
- I would be careful to avoid overuse. Obviously everyone is different, but be aware that light like this can profoundly affect your circadian rhythms and thus your sleep. Sometimes it's a huge benefit, but overuse can confuse your body's biological clock. I don't recommend going over an hour per day, but consult your physician for their expert opinion.
- Be aware of both heat and electrical draw, especially on traditional bulb. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can get really hot! They also draw a fair bit of juice, so don't leave it running all day long.
- Blue light isn't for everyone. I'd probably start out with white light and see how you go. Blue can cause eye strain for some people.
- Keep your lamp close. You should be within 2 feet of the light for best effect. If it's too far away you'll lose a lot of the benefits.
Lastly, be conscious of the fact that not all brands and manufacturers are the same. There isn't any hard and fast regulation specifying what must be included, so be sure that the light you're getting is of decent quality and specifically designated for seasonal affective disorder (not merely just any day lamp).
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.