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Best SAD light therapy

Best SAD light therapy
(Image credit: @Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash)

Light therapy lamps help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which typically occurs when there are fewer hours of daylight including low mood, fatigue, and lack of focus. By recreating the effects of natural sunlight, the SAD therapy lamps boost levels of serotonin (the ‘happy chemical’) in your brain, to help you feel more energized, happy, and productive. SAD light therapy lamps are also effective at taking the edge off jet lag and help those who work night shifts light. 

Best overall

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Lamp

(Image credit: Carex)

Carex Day-Light classic therapy lamp

For severe daylight deprivation

This LED therapy lamp emits 10,000 lux of glare-free white light with large, 16-by-13-inch coverage to deliver maximum results. The height and angle are adjustable on a flexible stand.

Pros:

  • Ideal for dimly lit home offices
  • Fully adjustable stand
  • Doubles as a task light

Cons:

  • Large size won’t suit all

This light therapy lamp projects light downwards, which is recommended by experts. There are also two settings so you can use the Carex as a standard desk lamp, too. Used for just 20 to 30 minutes in the morning, over time this SAD lamp will boost your energy and improve your mood. While the large coverage 16 x 13in screen delivers maximum results, there’s no denying this light therapy lamp might be a little on the big side for some.

Best value light

LASTAR Sunlight therapy lamp

(Image credit: LASTAR)

LASTAR sunlight lamp

Get the brightness you need

This is a great SAD lamp for those just venturing into this area. The LASTAR Sunlight lets you adjust the brightness between 20% and 100% to reach various distances.

Pros:

  • Various brightness
  • Basic and easy to use
  • Compact

Cons:

  • No setting reminders
  • No tilt
  • No timer

It's really easy to use since it is a basic light. Simply plug it in and you're ready to go. It's also pretty compact, so it's easy to take along while traveling. However, because it is so, you won't get some features like tilt control, setting reminders, or a timer.

Best portable lamp

Verilux HappyLight SAD lamp

(Image credit: Amazon)

Verilux HappyLight lucent LED light therapy lamp

Desk stand and wall mount

The Verilux HappyLight therapy lamp has three modes (low, medium, and high). It has a sleek, minimalist frame and a compact size, which makes the HappyLight ultra-portable for work or home. 

Pros:

  • Compact and thin
  • Multiple light intensity settings

Cons:

  • Basic design

It comes with an adjustable, and detachable desk stand, but also has an option to hang it on the wall. The light of this lamp is bright and even. It doesn't produce flickering or glare and stays cool to the touch. It is a basic light, though, so it lacks advanced features, including a timer.

Best design

Circadian Optics Lattis

(Image credit: Circadian Optics)

Circadian Optics light therapy lamp

Masquerades as furniture

The Circadian Optics lamp offers the recommended amount of light needed for effective light therapy with a pure-white color of the noonday sun. The light is also full-spectrum and free of UV rays, with a bulb that should last around 50,000 hours.

Pros:

  • Discreet lamp design
  • Long-lasting bulb
  • Free from UV rays

Cons:

  • Awkwardly positioned power cord

Circadian Optics is known for putting a lot of thought into its sun lamps, and this is particularly evident with the lamp, which has an elegant design that looks great on any desk. More importantly, the light quality is particularly pleasant and not harsh on the eyes. There are three brightness settings in total. The highest setting exudes a warm and natural light, and can fill a corner with cheerful light on dark winter days.

Do light therapy lamps work? 

Light therapy lamps, or sun lamps, mimic outdoor light, which researchers believe triggers a chemical change in the brain that helps with the symptoms of low light levels, such as fatigue, low mood, and lack of focus.

Many reliable sources, such as the National Sleep Foundation are supporters of light therapy lamps, but while these SAD lamps are effective for most people, they won’t work for everybody or they might only work to a lesser degree. However, when tested against a placebo, studies showed the sunlamps genuinely do make a difference, whether it’s a little or a lot. 

Ultimately though, proof can be found by testing out a lamp for yourself. There are plenty of cheaper options that you can start with to provide you with your 10,000 lux every morning. And, should you find the extra light beneficial, then you can upgrade to a lamp with more features or buy an extra one to take to the office – handy for those long winter workdays. 

Can a sun lamp ease Seasonal Affective Disorder?

If you have SAD or any other type of depression, the first port of call should be with your doctor, but light therapy lamps can certainly help with symptoms. As ever, a well-rounded approach is needed, and if your moods and concentration are suffering because of SAD, other factors such as exercise, diet, and sleep need to be taken into consideration too.

While sources such as Harvard Medical School do not cite the lamps as being a cure-all for SAD, they do suggest the lamps are effective, but they may not be for everybody, especially if you have more severe underlying mental health problems. 

Other trials have reported on the effectiveness of these lamps after putting them to the test on small groups of people. The American Psychiatric Association also claims that light therapy can certainly help, and has seen positive results in SAD patients within as little as one or two weeks. 

Why trust us?

At Top Ten Reviews, we recommend the best products to enhance your life. As experts, we handpick products based on quality and usefulness to positively impact your life. We take our responsibility seriously — testing products, reading reviews, and sourcing knowledgeable outlets to ensure our selections are worthy of your time and money. Our detailed product overviews balance objective information with subjective opinions, so making the best choice for your home and lifestyle is easy.

Freelancer writer and sub-editor Davina has over 20 years’ experience under her belt, and is one of our go-to writers for wellness content. From handheld massagers to mattresses, Davina has a keen interest in all things relaxation and rejuvenation, and spends a lot of her time covering these areas for Top Ten Reviews. So if you’re wondering which essential oil to use for easing stress, or whether a percussive massager really can banish your knotty muscles, Davina is the one to ask. When not working, she loves reading, practicing yoga and writing fiction.