What Lamp For Seasonal Affective Disorder Is Best For You?

Person leaping in front of sun

If you are approaching the topic for the first time the question of what lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder is best for you can seem a complicated one to answer.

  • Are the most expensive lamps better than the cheapest ones? (Not necessarily)
  • How strong does it need to be?
  • What are the practicalities of using it?
  • Do you want a free standing lamp that sits on the floor that you can place next to your chair to use whilst you read for instance?
  • Or would a light box that sits on a work top that you could use whilst eating breakfast or using your laptop be better?

There is a lot to consider, so lets see if we can get to the bottom of the question – what lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) should you get?

What Is Your Budget?

I guess the first thing you should think about is how much you are prepared to spend. Are you looking at the cheaper end of the market, lets say under $80? Would you be able to stretch your budget a bit further within the $80 to $160 bracket? Or are you lucky enough to be able to pay out for a top of the range SAD lamp – and spend over $160?

Generally it is true that the more you pay the better quality of SAD light you will get. But of course, this isn’t always true and there are some really gems out there at a lower price.

$100 bills

What Kind Of Lamp Do You Want?

So you’ve established how much you are prepared to spend. The next thing to do is to decide what kind of SAD lamp or light you want.

For instance do you want a full standing lamp, such as the Northern Light Technology Flamingo Bright Light Therapy Lamp. This is a floor lamp, the benefit of which is you can just set it up in your lounge next to your favourite chair and have it on whilst you read or watch TV, etc.

On a similar vein would you prefer a desk/table lamp like the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky? Like a floor lamp you can set them up on a desk in your home and leave them there. So you could sit at the desk using your laptop with the light on to get your dose of light therapy.

By the far the biggest range of products are SAD lightboxes – generally rectangular shaped devices that can be placed on any surface and switched on so you can get your dose of light whilst having breakfast (the morning is the best time for light therapy) or reading the paper, etc. Many such as the Circadian Optics Lumos are also portable meaning you can take them on holiday with you or easily move them around the house.

Is There An Alternative To A Lamp Or Light?

As unusual as it seems scientists are working with manufacturers to come up with other ways to tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder outside of the conventional SAD lights we have discussed.

You can get portable light therapy visors such as the Deluxe Feel Bright Visor. These visors you can wear like you would a cap, except the light shines on (not in) your eyes – it should shine on the lower edges of your eyes or above your cheekbones. The great thing about this kind of device is that it allows you to get your dose of light therapy whilst you go about your everyday business – ie getting ready for work, washing up, using the computer, etc, just don’t use it whilst you have a shower!

You can also, believe it or not, get your dose of bright light therapy through the ear canals! The Valkee 2 Bright Light Headset channels light through the ear canal and skull to the light-sensitive parts of the brain where light affects mood and energy level. The best thing is you only need to use it for 12 minutes a day – perfect for a commute to work!

Man with earphones in

What Color Is The Light?

More and more SAD lights are now being made that emit blue light. This is worth an article in its own right but essentially researchers have found that blue light at a lower intensity, can be just as effective as high intensity white light boxes. So why is this?

The light given by the sun is made up of a range of colours but appears white. However this range of includes colours such as red which is not at all effective in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Scientists have discovered that blue light, which is always within sunlight, is very beneficial to people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder – essentially it is the most energizing colour amongst the spectrum of colours in sunlight.

Effectively very bright white light works because it contains blue light. By using this blue light in isolation products such as the Philips GoLITE BLU Light Therapy Device can be very, very effective in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder.

However you must remember the use of white light is backed up with much more research as it has been around longer and there is a concern that blue light could cause macular degeneration of the eyes.

How Does the Light Enter Your Eyes?

During light therapy the optimum positioning for light to enter your eyes is if it shines down from above onto your eyes. This is as the special light receptors in your eye are mostly found in the top half of your visual field. These receptors are designed to tell what time of day it is by noticing the brightness of the sky, which is (obviously) above the horizon, not below. Meaning light therapy is most effect from above.

Also think about when the sun hits your eyes in real life, it comes from above you. Many SAD lights rest on your desktop and the light is angled upwards to your eyes but some, such as the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic and the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky, can be positioned so the light is above you and shining down on your eyes.

Check studies on light therapy and they all say for it to be most effective the light needs to shine from above

Other Things To Consider…

How is big is the surface area of the light?

Some lights have bigger surface areas than others. A larage

How strong is the light?

Typically SAD lamps or lights will be 10,000 lux – ideally this is the strength you will be looking for. Some may not be as strong and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing be aware that as the lux strength decreases the session times will increase and/or the lamp or light may need to be closer.

How close you need it?

Again check how close you need to be to the light for it to be effective. Most SAD lights need to be placed 12 inches away, some need to be closer and some can be effective at around 17 to 20 inches. Be sure to check this for any product prior to buying it though.

Is it UV free?

If you can find a device that is 100% UV free then this is going to be even safer for your eyes. Most SAD lights do now filter out the majority of UV light.

The sun shining through clouds

What Lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

There are so many SAD lights on the market now that it can be a little difficult to work out what is best for you. Here are a few recommendations:

If you are on a budget…

  • The Circadian Optics Lumos
    Great budget light.  Has a rechargeable battery, so can be used cordlessly for maximum portability, three light intensities, flexible light head that can be rotated to pretty much any angle and a fantastic design.

If you are looking for a mid-range light…

  • The Verilux Happy Light Liberty 10,000 lux
    This light has a tremendous reputation and rightly so. Four different light intensities, light weight and portable and a beautifully toned light. A top notch SAD Light.

If you can afford to spend a bit more…

  • The Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky
    This is expensive, but worth it. It has a huge field of light, the light comes from above – the optimum way to receive light therapy, is sturdy and stable and the light face can be maneuvered to suit your needs – I love this lamp!

There are of course many, many more options. Do your research properly and you will soon find a product that suits you and will help you banish Seasonal Affective Disorder.


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