Best Bright Light Therapy Lamps for SAD (Review & Buyers Guide)

I went out looking for the highest rated & most recommended options to compare.

Here is a list of recommended light therapy products to help you feel better if your get the Winter blues a.k.a seasonal affected disorder.

Top Rated SAD Light Therapy Products

1. NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light & Ion Therapy Lamp – Best Desktop Lamp Option

NatureBright exclusively sells light therapy products, including sun screens and wake-up lamps. The SunTouch Plus emits prescription-strength light rays and has the optional capability to provide aroma therapy. NatureBright was established in 2001 and is committed to enhancing mood with natural light rather than drugs and traditional medicine. Their website features a comprehensive discovery page that explains the science behind light therapy and biorhythms. (ref)

Specs
  • Suggested use time: 15 – 60 minutes
  • Size/shape: tabletop
  • Intensity: 10,000 LUX
  • Additional features: negative ion therapy

Lets compare some of the other features:

  • Includes negative ion therapy, which has rejuvenating properties
  • Suggested use time is flexible
  • Includes a timer with four different settings: 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes
  • Recommended by the New York State Psychiatry Institute and the Columbia Department of Psychiatry
  • The company only sells light therapy products, so they are solely focused on the quality of this product line
  • Uses UV-free light
  • Is too large to travel with
  • Users have to spend time sitting in front of the screen to get the benefits

2. Valkee HumanCharger – Best Portable Lights Option

Black HumanCharger device
Valkee is headquartered in Oulu, Finland and specializes in health-centered technology. Created in 2007, their HumanCharger is the first product of its kind. The light is transmitted directly to the brain through earphones, bypassing the eyes entirely. Their website offers in-depth instructions on how to use the product. They also have a pretty good customer support infrastructure that includes online user manuals, an FAQ section, an online contact form and of course email and phone contact information. (ref)

The HumanCharger comes into two available colors:

  1. Black Version
  2. Silver Version
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Specs
  • Suggested use time: 12 minutes
  • Size/shape: compact, fits in a pocket
  • Intensity: unavailable
  • Additional features: earbuds

Lets compare some of the other features:

  • Is fit for traveling; it is smaller than a smartphone and can fit in a pocket
  • Transmits light directly to the brain through earbuds
  • Doesn’t require a huge time investment
  • Comes with a smartphone app
  • Since this is Valkee’s only product, the company is solely focused on its quality and success
  • Uses UV-free light
  • Light intensity information is not available
  • This technology seems to still be early in its development, and it may not yet be as reliable as other, more established methods of light therapy

3. ReTimer Light Therapy Glasses – Best Green Light Option

ReTimer is a university-owned company that sells only one product: light therapy glasses. Although the intensity of emitted light is relatively low, ReTimer says that due to their proximity to the eyes, the glasses are just as effective as a lightbox that emits 10,000 LUX. The glasses can conveniently be worn while performing other tasks, but they are much larger than regular glasses. The ReTimer website features a jetlag calculator and a sleep calculator which tell you when you should wear the light therapy glasses to minimize jetlag and reset your sleep schedule, respectively. (ref)

Specs
  • Suggested use time: 30 – 60 minutes
  • Size/shape: large glasses
  • Intensity: 500 LUX
  • Additional features: none

Lets compare some of the other features:

  • Since these are glasses, they are compact and fit for traveling
  • Although they require 30 – 60minutes of wearing to be effective, these glasses can be worn while performing other tasks such as eating or watching TV
  • The ReTimer website has tons of useful information on the science behind light therapy and how to use the glasses
  • Uses UV-free light
  • The glasses are quite bulky; you probably don’t want to wear them in public
  • This technology seems to still be early in its development, and it may not yet be as reliable as other, more established methods of light therapy

4. Philips Wake-Up Light – Best Dawn Stimulator Alarm Clock

Philips is a well-established global company that is based in the Netherlands and has been making technology products for over a century. They sell personal care products, lighting, health products, automotive products and electronics. Their charity, the Philips Foundation, contributes to such causes as education, natural disaster relief and childhood obesity prevention. (ref)

Specs
  • Suggested use time: 20 – 40 minutes
  • Size/shape: tabletop
  • Intensity: 300 LUX
  • Additional features: FM radio, alarm

Lets compare some of the other features:

  • Acts as an alarm clock with a radio
  • Philips offers a 90-day money back guarantee
  • Philips is a trusted company that has been around for over 100 years
  • Has 20 brightness settings
  • Automatically dims when the room gets dark
  • Timer is adjustable
  • Uses UV-free light
  • Requires a long time investment
  • This product is limited to its use as a sleep-inducer and wake-up alarm
  • Since Philips sells such a wide range of products, their resources are not 100% committed to the wake-up light
  • The intensity is low compared to other options on the market

5. Lighting Science GoodDay HealthE Biological Light – Best Light Bulb Option

Lighting Science is based in Rhode Island. Their product range includes their HealthE light line and their VividGro line for growing legal cannabis. The HealthE line includes light therapy bulbs optimized for either night or day, and one that is meant for ensuring a good night’s sleep for infants.

Specs
  • Suggested use time: morning, late afternoon
  • Size/shape: light bulb
  • Intensity: 650 LUX
  • Additional features: none

Lets compare some of the other features:

  • Can replace a normal light bulb
  • Requires no time investment as long as the user is in the affected space
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee
  • Since Lighting Science sells a limited range of products, they are wholly focused on these products
  • Cannot be taken with you; the lightbulb is fixed in one place
  • Requires you to spend time in one specific room or area to get the benefits
  • The intensity is low compared to other options on the market

Buyer’s Guide Information

I know you were looking for what are the best options, but here is some more detail as to why we need seasonal affective disorder lamps to help us wake up and beat the winter depression blues.

What is Light Therapy for SAD?

Bright light therapy, or phototherapy, is the use of artificial light to treat certain conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People with SAD often experience depression in the fall or winter months due to limited exposure to natural light. Light therapy has been proven to help relieve symptoms of SAD and is also used to treat jet lag, dementia, non-seasonal depression and sleep disorders. The intensity of light is critical and is measured in LUX. Normal room lighting is not bright enough to be used as light therapy. (ref)

Do SAD Lights Work?

Yes, seasonal affective disorder lights have been found to help treat SAD. Although bright light therapy is not a cure for SAD, it can be effective in treating the symptoms. Researchers in more than 15 studies have found that even individuals who have a long history of SAD experience relief within one week of bright light exposure. (ref)

In one four-week study, 96 patients were either exposed to bright light therapy in the morning or the evening, or given a placebo. Those who received the morning light therapy showed the best results. The evening light therapy was shown to be more effective than placebo, but not as effective as the morning light therapy. Overall, the findings showed that bright light therapy, especially given in the morning hours, is effective for minimizing and even eliminating depression in a significant number of patients. (ref)

Types of SAD Lamps Available

In the past, bright light boxes were the only way to engage in light therapy. But in today’s tech world, many other options are popping up. Some of them are wearable, making them more convenient for people with on-the-go lifestyles. Here are a few devices for receiving bright light therapy treatment. (ref)

  • Light boxes
  • Lamps
  • Light bulbs
  • LED Glasses
  • LED earphones
  • Dawn simulators
  • Sun visors
  • Light timers

When to Use SAD Lamps to Help Improve Mood?

While SAD is the condition most commonly treated with bright light therapy, there are many situations in which light therapy can help people. People in the following situations may want to try light therapy. (ref)

  • People who live at high northern latitudes with periods of little to no sunlight
  • People who struggle to wake up in winter
  • People who experience jet lag
  • People with sleep disorders
  • People who have dementia
  • People who experience non-seasonal depression

Benefits of Using Light to Improve SAD

Those with SAD can put their depression in remission with light therapy. Here are some of the benefits you might see after implementing this treatment. (ref)

  • Better mood
  • Decreased feelings of depression
  • Regulated circadian rhythm
  • Increased energy
  • Light therapy is shown to be more effective than antidepressants, with fewer side effects

Although you may see short-term benefits when using light therapy, you’ll probably still be affected by SAD when winter comes around the following year. Light therapy should typically be repeated each year during the season in which you are affected. (ref)

Is It Safe to Use Light Therapy Lamps?

Light therapy lamps are very safe. There is no indication that they cause any long term damage to the body. Side effects of light therapy are rare and relatively mild; however, here are a few to be aware of.

  • Eyestrain
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Dry eyes
  • Nausea

These side effects can be minimized by limiting the amount of time you spend with bright light, as well as the intensity of light. Also, using a light box free of UV rays can reduce your chances of experiencing negative side effects. (ref)

Although light therapy has never been shown to cause any damage to the eye, people with eye conditions or diabetes may be more susceptible to side effects and should consult a doctor before commencing treatment.

People who have bipolar disorder should consult a doctor and use light therapy with caution. Light therapy may trigger episodes of hyperactivity or mania. (ref)

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