The Best Light Therapy Lamps for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

updated Nov 14, 2023
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With daylight savings time back and bringing shorter days with it, you may find that the lack of light exposure has you feeling a bit off. The decrease in sunlight impacts people in different ways, with some developing a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to the American Psychological Association, S.A.D comes with many of the same symptoms as depression: fatigue, lack of interest, sleep difficulty (or, on the other hand, excessive sleeping), and feelings of hopelessness and despair. Thankfully, there are several ways you can manage S.A.D, but one popular method is light therapy. And if you want to see if light therapy lamps are the right option for you, there are plenty of high-quality and affordable options out there. But first, what are light therapy lamps and how do they work?

How do light therapy lamps work?

Since S.A.D. is largely related to a lack of sunlight, light therapy is a method of getting your body — and your mental health — back on track. Light therapy lamps, sometimes referred to as light boxes, typically provide 10,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) and can help restore your body to a normal circadian rhythm to keep S.A.D symptoms at bay, according to Harvard Medical School’s health blog.

How to Use a Light Therapy Lamp

Using a light therapy lamp is easier than you might think. Generally, you should use your light therapy lamp by sitting close to it with your eyes open, but not looking directly at it. As for how long to use a light therapy lamp, 30 minutes a day should suffice, but you can adjust this number as you see fit. It’s best if you use your lamp early in the morning, specifically right when you first wake up to help get your body on track for the day ahead. (To make sure you’re getting the most out of your light therapy lamp, HuffPost has a roundup of helpful tips.)

Note: Light therapy may not work the same for everyone and can have side effects, so it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before trying it.

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The most affordable option on our list, this light therapy lamp can easily be mistaken for an iPad. With an intensity of 10,000 lux and a built-in stand, so you don’t have to worry about propping, it’s small enough to fit into your bag or backpack and is an ideal option for those who don’t have a lot of room for anything extra on their desks.

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This compact lightbox is perfect for portable use — at 1.5 lbs., it can easily be taken to work or moved around your home. It emits up to 5,000 lux, which is about half as intense as the recommended 10,000 lux, so it’s best for more casual use. Coupled with the low price, it’s a great starter option.

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Another low-cost option, the ALBINA light therapy lamp isn’t clunky — in fact, its contemporary design fits right in with modern homes. It has a minimalist wood casing that makes it look like a fancy tablet device, and it produces 10,000 lux of light, has adjustable dimmer settings, and comes with five temperature options.

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A larger option from Verilux, the HappyLight Touch Plus adopts the slimmer, tablet-like look and has an increased intensity of 10,000 lux. It has options for personalization, with a timer, three brightness levels, and even two light colors: daylight or warm light.

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Design lovers are sure to love this next pick. The HIBOITEC Light Therapy Lamp features a sculptural, modern design that makes this a S.A.D. lamp that doubles as an eye-catching decor piece. Available in both black and white, it also features three temperature settings, five brightness levels, and a timer.

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For a different style, try the Lumos, which looks more like an actual lamp and less like a box. The perk here is the flexibility — with three hinges and a rotating panel, you can adjust the light to your heart’s desire. It’s especially good for those with sensitive eyes who need their light to be positioned just so. (No shame!)

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LASTAR's light therapy lamp is small and round and gives off a more minimalist style. It has three brightness levels that can be adjusted with a touch and a 10,000 lux intensity.

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This solid wood lightbox has an art deco feel and features 10,000 lux of light power, making it one of the most efficient decor pieces around. One great perk is the remote, which allows you to toggle between different color temperatures, brightness, and dimming settings.

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was $219.99

A more heavy-duty option, this lamp from Carex is much bigger than the others on this list and is ideal for larger spaces. It has two light settings depending on your needs: one that delivers 10,000 lux brightness, and another less intense one that is more like task lighting.

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The Philips SmartSleep lamp is the only one on our list that’s both a light therapy lamp and an alarm clock. It’s small but packs a lot — there are functions for both falling asleep and waking up naturally, plus ambient sounds and white noise. It’s on the high end, price-wise, but worth it for all the functionality.