SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a condition that affects a lot of people with depression-like symptoms during the darker winter months. To alleviate these symptoms, light therapy through the use of the best light for SAD disorder can be used to mimic natural light that we are not receiving during those months.
In this article, we will go over the top 7 SAD lamps that are currently available, as well as what their benefits are and provide information on SAD and how to help with the symptoms.
What Kind of Light Helps with SAD?
Generally, if you have SAD and are looking for a lamp that will help to alleviate the symptoms. you are either going to want what is called a sun lamp or a lamp with at least 10,000 LUX. These lights mimic the natural light and can be an effective part of light therapy for those who have Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Because SAD is a type of depression that happens during the fall and winter when the days are shorter, sun lamps have been shown to have a positive effect on both serotonin and melatonin; which helps to control your sleep and wake cycles.
SAD occurs around the same time every year, with severity and length of time depending on how close you are to the equator, and how long the shortest days end up being.
As you can imagine, living in an area that is more north will have a shorter amount of sunlight, and those who live in these regions will be more susceptible to SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can also cause low energy, depression, and in some severe cases lead to suicidal thoughts. Those who have used a sun lamp upon waking daily noticed a major improvement in these symptoms in as little as a few days of use.
Doctors will turn to sun lamps even before prescription drugs and anti-depressants due to their fast-acting symptom relief, and no side effects.
Consumers have reported feeling a sense of relief from their symptoms during their first session of around 20 minutes.
Light therapy has also been shown to promote more production of serotonin, which can help in combatting the depression-like symptoms of SAD.
How Many Lumens Do I Need for a SAD Light?
Because SAD lights are considered to be light therapy lamps, they work by utilizing a pretty intense light source with high color temperatures.
This means that they are going to have a lot of lumens in each light to function properly and perform their designated functions.
At the least, you will want to have a SAD light that has around 10,000 LUX; which can translate to 10,000 lumens per square foot.
It should also be noted that lumens and Lux are not the same thing. Although sometimes they seem to be interchangeable, the term lumens refers to the amount of how much light a light source produces, while lux is how much of that light you are receiving.
As you can imagine, the more distance between you and a lamp the less lux you are receiving.
This is why as relates to SAD lamps and lights, it is recommended to set it up somewhere that is close to your working or reading spaces so that you receive the best benefit possible.
However, you should still try to find a SAD lamp that has at least 10,000 lumens produced.
In some cases, you can find some that produce lumens in the range of 5,000 and while these are good for the time of night that you are winding down, they are not ideal for light therapy; which works based on providing a large amount of light within a short distance from you.
Reviews of the 7 Best Light for SAD Disorder
#1. Timing Setting – Miroco LED Bright White Therapy Desk Light Box
- With 90-degree rotatable standing bracket
- A good budget-friendly option that is currently on sale
- Highly portable and easy to take with you wherever you go
- This decent size light therapy lamp comes with an intuitive timer and 3 light modes
- Compact design that can be set up anywhere you are working on a project or relaxing at home
- Only one color temperature
This light therapy lamp from Miroco features UV-free light therapy that feels more like you are out in the sun on a bright and beautiful day, giving you the doctor recommended 10,000 LUX that is most common during light therapy practices. Great for fighting any negative effects of a lack of sun exposure and Vitamin D, such as SAD, jet lag, and work schedule changes.
There are stepless dimming light to choose from all at the touch of your finger, as well as a built-in timer that allows you to choose between 10-60 minutes with ease.
The compact portable design will make the lamp easy to carry and use wherever you are; it looks like an iPad and you will be able to easily take this traveling, to work, or anywhere you need.
This is a great product that is currently on sale and works well for those who can’t experience natural sunlight as often as they would like due to seasonal changes or work shifts, and gives you the energy and focus that you need to get through your day.
#2. With Sunrise Alarm – Philips Sleep & Wake up SAD Disorder Light
- Recommended from other users of the product
- Additional features make it a great all-rounder product for your nightstand
- From a name brand company that has been around a long time and you can trust
- Easy to use intuitive design that helps you to fall asleep faster and wake up naturally to the artificial sunlight
A great option if you are looking for a SAD light that has a sunrise alarm, this product from Philips Smart Sleep can help with your energy levels, sleep patterns, and general well-being. Some functions help you relax and fall asleep, as well as wake up naturally with the artificial “sunlight” from this light therapy lamp; recommended by many consumers after as little as two weeks of use.
This easy to use a SAD light therapy lamp has additional features as well; such as natural relaxing sounds, a USB mobile phone charging option, AUX dock, and a fully dimmable clock display. Clinically proven to work, users of this product have found that they find it easier to fall asleep and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and able to take on the day.
#3. With Adjustable Light – Sunrise Bright Wooden Tabletop SAD Lamp
- Fully programmable and adjustable
- Sleek and elegant design that is both functional and attractive
- Features a bright Full-Spectrum LED light that will last a long time
- Can be set up anywhere in your home, and is especially useful to wake up to in the morning
- The wooden lamp can’t be used in the bathroom
One of the most uniquely designed sunlamps available on the market, this adjustable light from Sunrise Sensations is functional while being elegant in design, made from all-natural wood and controlled remotely. The fully adjustable light from this SAD lamp gives off a warm UV-free full spectrum LED light that is known to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
You can choose from 5,000 LUX to up to 10,000 LUX at the touch of a button, and is large enough to be seen and enjoyed around any room. One of the best parts about having a SAD lamp like this that is adjustable is that you can change the settings depending on the time of day and your needs, making it feel like the sun is affecting the lighting in the room to help alleviate symptoms of SAD and depression.
#4. With Interchangeable Lenses – Verilux Full-Size SAD Lamp
- Provides full-spectrum non-UV light to aid in SAD symptoms
- From a reputable company with a good customer service department
- A good mid-priced option that is great at doing the job it was designed to do
- Interchangeable lenses give more options as relates to your light therapy sessions
- The integrated light bulb can’t be changed
A great option for customizable and interchangeable lenses, this SAD lamp from Verilux features UV free full-spectrum light that delivers up to 10,000 lux designed for light therapy purposes. Included in the purchase and the highlight of this product is the 2 interchangeable lenses that offer two brightness settings.
One is aimed at providing high energy while the other is better suited for glare control to be easier on your eyes. This features a broad surface area and large lens size as well as a tilt feature that will enable you to have a better and more efficient light therapy session, and the UV-free lighting is safe for both your eyes and skin.
This has been proven to help with your sleep patterns, mood, energy levels, amount of focus, and productivity throughout the day; especially if you are currently suffering from SAD.
#5. Full Size – Verilux LED SAD Lamp with 2 Interchangeable Lenses
- Set at a decent price point for what you receive
- Easy to program and control the timer and light output
- A durable product that will last a long time even with daily and repeated use
- The stand is adjustable so that you can get the correct angle for your needs
- You have to put it on the flat surfaces
A good choice if you are looking for an automated timer for your light therapy sessions, this SAD lamp from Miroco features a streamlined design with a large surface and intuitive controls. This will enable you to experience the recommended 10,000 Lux for light therapy purposes, with adjustable brightness settings to set it to the correct level for the time of the day; giving your further control and versatility.
You can set this with the smooth dimmer which is easy to control and is located right next to the customizable timer. This timer allows you to set the amount of time that the light will be anywhere from between 10-60 minutes at a time in 10-minute intervals. For further control, this comes with a stand that is adjustable allowing you to get the desired angle for your light therapy needs.
#6. Tall – Flamingo 1000 Lux Therapy Floor Lamp
- Easy to set up with little to no assembly required
- A larger lamp head that allows more light to penetrate the room that it is in
- The lamp head is easily adjustable to get the necessary angle at any given time
- For the size and functionality, this is priced with the budget-conscious consumer in mind
- Heavier than the table therapy light box
One of the only high rated tall SAD lamps available on the market, this Flamingo model from Northern Light Technologies when assembled stands at 4 feet tall and has a rotating head that allows you to direct the light where needed. This light offers non-UV lighting at 10,000 Lux and ensures that there will be no flickering or noise when powered on.
Full-spectrum lighting imitates natural sunlight that those who suffer from SAD are needing, without any of the harmful aspects of other light sources. Perfect for exercising around, or as a large reading light that can be directed at you as you are at home or working throughout the day.
Because there is a larger surface area of this light, you are receiving more Lux than standard SAD lamps and this is priced very affordably.
- A great looking SAD lamp that will fit into any decor scheme
- Budget-friendly while maintaining a clean appearance and functionality
- The lighting portion of this is one of the largest available on the market
- Provides the necessary amount of Lux, and space-saving design that can be placed anywhere in your home or office
- Small Size
If you are looking for a high-quality SAD lamp that will look great in any living space, this option from Circadian Optics is a great choice. This is a taller SAD lamp that is priced reasonably, and will fit into any type of design scheme that you have. This is a clean looking accent piece that features a modern design and integrated light panel; a fully functional piece of artwork.
It is easy to use thanks to the one-touch operation, with three levels of brightness to choose from to fit in with your particular needs. The full spectrum UV-free light provides the recommended 10,000 Lux of brightness to combat the depression-like symptoms of SAD, as well as regulate your serotonin and sleep patterns.
What Is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD, is a feeling akin to depression that affects people during changes in season and temperature. This is most common during the colder winter months when the sun is out for less amount during the day, and it is harder to get outside due to the cold.
SAD is commonly treated with light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy to help those affected deal with the symptoms.
Those who are affected by SAD will show many of the same signs and symptoms of depression, such as moodiness, loss of energy, feeling of sadness, and lack of motivation.
It should be noted that those who have bipolar disorder may be experiencing SAD as well, oftentimes in a more heightened sense. They may go through mania or hypomania during summer, and alternatively depression during the fall and leading into winter.
While almost everyone has experienced the winter blues in their lifetime, this is different than SAD; as these symptoms can last for more than a couple days at a time, and get in the way of your normal life and daily routine.
It is more common among women than it is men, according to studies, and can be treated the same as depression.
Studies have also shown that a major reason for SAD is the lack of sunlight and vitamin D that you are receiving during those winter months.
This lack of sunlight creates a chemical imbalance in our brain that triggers SAD, as well as a shift in our natural bodies rhythm and sleeping patterns.
Because of this, SAD lights and light therapy are a great way to treat this disorder and in most cases is enough without taking any other type of therapy or prescription drugs.
Do SAD Light Boxes Work?
Although lightboxes won’t cure SAD because like depression there is no cure, medical studies have shown that they can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with this disorder as the root cause of SAD is a lack of natural sunlight, which these lights are known to mimic in a way.
The science behind this is that bright natural (or in this case artificial) light stimulates cells in the retina that are connected to the part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms. By using bright light every day, you are almost retraining and resetting your circadian rhythm which can alleviate the symptoms of SAD.
Light therapy will consist of sitting close to a SAD lightbox that is great at providing around 10,000 LUX which is a measure of light intensity.
Most indoor lighting will consist of 1,000 LUX, while natural outdoor lighting is around 50,000. While these are not as beneficial as being outdoors in the sun, when that is not possible it is a great way to get the light that is so beneficial to our moods, energy levels, and productivity.
While you shouldn’t look directly at any type of light this intense, they are great tools that can be set up in your reading area or computer desk at home or in the office.
This type of light therapy may not be for everyone, especially those who suffer from Bipolar disorder, as it can trigger hypomania or mania.
And some people just don’t do well with a lot of light, especially if you have diabetes or other eye conditions that can harm your eyes.
For the average person, looking straight into the light from these SAD light boxes won’t damage their eyes, but it should still be avoided.
Does a SAD Light Give Vitamin D?
Research has shown that one of the main contributing factors to SAD is the lack of Vitamin D production due to less daylight during the fall and winter months. While SAD lamps do mimic the light of the sun and natural light to a certain extent, they are not capable of helping out bodies produce Vitamin D, as they do not utilize UV rays.
However, even though they are not capable of providing this essential Vitamin, we can still find it when the sun is shining and through quality Vitamin D supplements.
A common misconception about sun lamps and SAD lights is that they do produce Vitamin D, which research has shown not to be the case. Again, this is because although they do help with SAD they do not use any type of UV rays or light that would push our bodies into producing Vitamin D.
The mood elevation that you can experience with a SAD lamp is from the amount of serotonin that is produced and does not correlate with Vitamin D production.
What Light Bulb is Closest to Natural Sunlight to Cure SAD Disorders?
Out of the main types of lightbulbs available for us in this day and age (fluorescent, incandescent, LED, and halogen), studies have shown that halogen light bulbs are considered to be the most like sunlight largely in part to their full-spectrum lighting capabilities.
They are a variation of incandescent light bulbs, and are often referred to as “white lights”. They are the closest color warmth to natural sunlight, and colors will appear sharper and more clear under the lighting of halogen bulbs.
Halogen lights are all full-spectrum; what this means is that they are designed to emit light that is closest to the visible spectrum of the solar spectrum. To achieve this, these types of lights will emit trace amounts of infrared and UV lights as well.
However, regardless as much as we have tried and continue to try to this day, there is not the technological capabilities quite yet to fully achieve the reproduction of the sunlight spectrum.
That said, full-spectrum halogen lights are as close to it as you can currently achieve.
Hopefully, we were able to shed some light on SAD, how it can affect you, and what steps can be taken to alleviate the symptoms associated with it. All of the products listed above are made from high-quality materials and will provide you with the recommended 10,000 Lux of brightness for SAD depression.