Sad lamp for depression

Pricing, Benefits, and How to Use

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  • Best adjustable SAD lamp: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp
  • Best UV-free SAD lamp: Northern Light Technologies Boxelite
  • Best portable SAD lamp: Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp
  • Best SAD lamp for leisure: Flamingo Floor Lamp
  • Best affordable SAD lamp: TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), now known clinically as major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, is a condition that causes sadness or depression when the seasons change.

It most typically occurs during the fall and winter, when days become short and exposure to sunlight decreases. It’s most common in women and young adults.

Counseling, therapy, and medication may all be effective for this condition. Light boxes — also referred to as SAD lamps or light therapy lamps — are another option that can reduce symptoms and provide relief. They work by replicating natural daylight.

Symptoms of SAD

There are two types of SAD: wintertime and summertime. SAD affects people differently, but the symptoms may vary based on the type of SAD.

Symptoms of wintertime SAD include:

  • daytime fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • increased irritability
  • lack of interest in social activities
  • lethargy
  • reduced sexual interest
  • unhappiness
  • weight gain

Symptoms of summertime SAD include:

  • agitation
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased restlessness
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss

In severe cases, people with SAD may experience thoughts of suicide.

Treatment options for SAD

Counseling and therapy are treatment options for both forms of SAD. Some people may also benefit from medications such as antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and bupropion (Wellbutrin). People experiencing SAD should speak to their doctor about which medication is the best course of treatment.

Light therapy can also be used as a treatment for wintertime SAD. This involves using a specialized light box or visor for at least 30 minutes each day to mimic natural light. Light therapy should only be used under a doctor’s supervision and on approved devices. Other light-emitting sources like tanning beds, are not safe for use.

Another type of treatment is a dawn simulator which uses a time-activated light to mimic the sunrise as a way to help stimulate the body’s clock.

Adopting some healthy lifestyle habits can also help minimize SAD symptoms. This can include:

  • a balanced diet with lean protein, fruits, and vegetables
  • exercise
  • regular sleep

A SAD lamp uses light therapy to replicate sunlight and trick the body into thinking it is the warmer months and trigger the body to release serotonin.

The light produced by a SAD lamp is measured in lux. A lux is a measurement of light intensity combined with area. A SAD lamp should offer a brightness of 10,000 lux. The viewing angle of a lamp should allow it to be positioned above the eyes and at a slight downward angle to minimize glare.

Typically, SAD lamps or lights should be used for 30 minutes to an hour. They can be used at any time of the day although they are usually used first thing in the morning.

SAD lamps are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some research shows that light therapy can help improve seasonal depression, even with as little as 20 minutes of exposure. Although the FDA doesn’t regulate SAD lamps, Healthline’s medical affairs team still every pick and brand, diving into medical credibility, the company’s reputation, and its business practices.

We chose the options on this list based on the following criteria:

  • Intensity: All the picks on this list have at least 10,000 lux, the standard intensity for effectiveness.
  • Reputation: Each SAD lamp we feature comes from a reputable brand that doesn’t make egregious health claims.
  • Price: We were mindful of different budgets by including options from various price points.
  • User reviews: We chose only highly rated options that current users love and don’t have any major complaints about.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = over $200

Best adjustable SAD lamp

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $$
  • Features: flexible stand, 2 light settings, glare-free for eye comfort
  • Size of light panel: 15.5 x 13.5 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a customizable lamp that can work well in any space, at any angle
  • Lux: 10,000

This lamp has a large surface area of 15. 5 by 13.5 inches. It generates 10,000 lux and projects light in a downward motion — this helps keep it glare-free no matter how it’s positioned.

The lampstand is adjustable, so chances are it will be comfortable to use no matter your height or chair type. Users say the lampstand doesn’t wobble and that the lamp reaches full lumens quickly for maximum benefit.


  • large surface area
  • glare-free
  • adjustable


  • pricey

Shop now at Amazon

Best UV-free SAD lamp

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

  • Price: $$
  • Features: full-spectrum UV-free light, 5 different height levels, adjustable
  • Size of light panel: 12.25 x 17 inches
  • Who it’s best for: those who like to sit further away from the light source (it’s effective at 14 inches)
  • Lux: 10,000

In addition to features such as 10,000 lux and a large surface screen, this SAD lamp is designed to last. Many users rave about it 7 or more years after purchase.

The lamp includes long lasting fluorescent bulbs and is UV-free. It also features five different height levels and is easily adjustable. Note that it weighs 11 pounds and is heavier than many other lamps.


  • UV-free
  • long lasting


  • heavier than other options on our list

Shop now at Amazon

Best portable SAD lamp

Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $
  • Features: 3 brightness levels, fixed position, one-touch operation
  • Size of light panel: 6 x 15.75 inches
  • Who it’s best for: those who want their light to blend in a little better with their decor
  • Lux: 10,000

If you love the look of modern decor, this lamp may be right for you. It features 10,000 lux of LED, UV-free, full-spectrum white light. It also boasts three brightness levels, so you can uptick or downtick the amount of light you receive.

Many users prefer LED to fluorescent light because it lasts longer. This lamp has a small surface area and a fixed position, which doesn’t allow for adjustment. Even so, it may be great for small spaces or as a lamp for travel.


  • stylish look
  • UV-free
  • 3 brightness levels


  • much larger than other options
  • may not be everyone’s taste

Shop now at Amazon

Best SAD lamp for leisure

Flamingo Floor Lamp

  • Price: $$
  • Features: adjustable, rotating head, taller than most
  • Size of light panel: 7 x 13 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone who’s looking for a little more versatility in where they can get their light therapy
  • Lux: 10,000

This 46-inch-tall lamp is a great option for those who want to position their SAD lamp near a treadmill or glider. It also fits neatly into corners for use while reading or watching TV.

This floor lamp provides 10,000 lux of full-spectrum, UV-free, LED light. It’s also glare-free and adjustable. Users love the sturdy design and long lasting light bulbs, which typically last for about 5 years. Assembly is required.


  • UV-free
  • full-spectrum LED light
  • glare-free
  • comes with long lasting light bulbs


  • assembly required

Shop now at Amazon

Best affordable SAD lamp

TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $
  • Features: timer, 4 brightness levels, memory function
  • Size of light panel: 5.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a compact option and doesn’t mind sitting closer to the panel
  • Lux: 10,000

While this portable option has a smaller screen size than recommended, it still delivers a good value for its size and cost.

Designed for on-the-go use, this lamp provides 10,000 lux and one-touch controls.


  • portable
  • one-touch controls


  • might be too small for some users

Shop now at TaoTronics

PriceWho it’s best forConsiderations
Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp$$ anyone looking for a customizable lamp that can work well in any space, at any angleadjustable, but always faces in a downward position to reduce glare
Northern Light Technologies Boxelite$$ those who like to sit further away from the light source (it’s effective at 14 inches)adjustable and has a larger light panel so you can sit further away
Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp$ those who want their light to blend in a little better with their decorblends well with decor but has a fixed position and doesn’t adjust
Flamingo Floor Lamp$$ anyone looking for a little more versatility in where they can get their light therapylight angle is adjustable but not the height
TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp$anyone looking for a compact option and doesn’t mind sitting closer to the panelcompact, but you have to sit closer to the light panel since it’s smaller than others on the list

SAD lamps simulate sunlight, which helps trigger the brain to release serotonin, often called the feel-good hormone.

Studies show that using light therapy during periods when daylight hours are short can help adjust your circadian rhythm, the body’s process for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. This is beneficial for improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression.

Light therapy has become an accepted practice for alleviating SAD and other conditions such as:

  • jet lag
  • dementia
  • circadian rhythm sleep disorders

There are many lamps and light boxes marketed as SAD or light therapy lamps. Not all of these products are effective or appropriate for this use.

The FDA doesn’t regulate SAD lamps, so it’s important to buy one that provides enough light and is designed to treat SAD.

Here are some features to look for:


  • Don’t get a light box that’s designed to treat skin conditions. These devices aren’t meant to treat mood disorders and they won’t be effective.
  • Make sure the lamp filters out ultraviolet (UV) light and is labeled UV-free. UV light can damage your eyes and skin.


  • The lamp should generate 10,000 lux of cool-white, fluorescent light. An output of 10,000 lux is approximately 20 times greater than the light output generated by most indoor lighting. Lamps with less lux may need to be used more often than brighter ones.
  • Opt for a glare-free lamp or a lamp that can be positioned at a downward angle that reduces or eliminates eye glare.


  • Look for a lamp with a light surface area of around 12 by 15 inches. The larger the surface area, the higher the lux. Larger lamps also provide you with the option of moving around more, so you can be farther away from the lamp without compromising its effectiveness.
  • Smaller lamps aren’t as effective and may need to be used more often for longer sessions. That said, you may wish to purchase a second, smaller lamp if you travel a lot. Your doctor can provide individualized lamp use guidelines.

Personal style and needs

  • Think about what activity you would like to do while using the lamp and purchase one that will accommodate that purpose. For example, light boxes have been shown to help with jet lag. So, if you travel frequently, you may want to choose a small, portable option.
  • Lamp styles vary. You may be better off getting an attractive lamp that matches your décor so it can stay in position for use. For maximum benefit, you’ll want to use the lamp at least once daily, so having it out and easily accessible can be a plus.
  • Don’t start using a SAD lamp without your doctor’s approval: This is especially important if you have a diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, glaucoma, or lupus.
  • Always get the green light from your doctor if you’re taking prescription medications of any kind, including antipsychotics and antidepressants: Remember that some prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements can make your skin photosensitive, requiring an adjustment to your use of the lamp. These medications include lithium, some acne drugs, and St. John’s wort.
  • Use the lamp daily: You can use it until daylight hours increase.
  • Experiment with time frame: Many people benefit from as little as 20 minutes of use. Others require 60 minutes, which is typically considered the highest exposure you should get.
  • Consider when to use it: Many experts recommend using a SAD lamp first thing in the morning. Your doctor might also recommend that you use it during the day. Keep in mind that more isn’t always better. Overuse of a SAD lamp can produce insomnia or other side effects.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations for the position: Your lamp should come with recommendations for how close you should position yourself to it. This is very important, as your distance from it will affect the lamp’s lux capacity.
  • Position the lamp so that it’s providing you with downward light: This will ensure that it doesn’t shine directly into your eyes.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to best stop using the lamp: It may be most appropriate for you to wean yourself off slowly. Spending time outdoors, especially in the mornings, can help this process.

Although light therapy is helpful for people who bipolar disorder, you should consult with a doctor before introducing it daily. A medical professional who is familiar with your physical and mental health history will be able to help you figure out if light therapy is a good option for you.

Some studies show that SAD lamps can help boost mood and alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression, but they’re not a substitute for proper mental health care. If you feel that your depression is severe or you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to speak with a healthcare professional. You should check in with a doctor or mental health professional if:

  • You feel sad and hopeless nearly every day.
  • You no longer experience pleasure in hobbies or activities you used to enjoy.
  • You can’t sleep or are spending too much time sleeping.
  • You’re feeling irritated and annoyed nearly every day.
  • Symptoms are interfering with your quality of life.
  • You’re gaining or losing weight unexpectedly.

Keep in mind

If you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Can SAD lamps damage your skin or eyes?

UV light should be filtered out of SAD lamps, so they shouldn’t damage your eyes or skin. However, light boxes used to treat certain skin conditions do emit UV light, so you should be sure that your light box is designed to treat SAD.

Can SAD lamps increase vitamin D levels?

While some people have found that SAD lamps can increase vitamin D levels over time, there’s not enough research to confirm this.

A 2007 study investigated whether patients with cystic fibrosis and short bowel syndrome were able to absorb vitamin D through commercial portable ultraviolet lamps. The study found that the lamp increased or maintained circulating vitamin D levels in the winter months.

However, other studies have shown that for light therapy to be used effectively to increase vitamin D levels, it needs to produce UV light, which most SAD lamps do not.

According to the FDA, UV lights can cause damage to the skin and should be used with caution. Long-term exposure to UV rays can also cause premature aging and skin cancer. If you’re using UV lights on your skin, you should speak with your doctor first.

How bright are SAD lamps?

The recommended brightness for SAD lamps is typically 10,000 lux.

How long does it take a SAD lamp to start working?

The University of British Columbia found that people can start to respond to light therapy within a few days and you should see improvements within 2 weeks. Be sure to speak to your doctor if your body does not respond to a SAD lamp after 2 weeks.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t use a SAD lamp?

You should avoid using a SAD lamp if you have an increased sensitivity to light. This may be due to:

  • macular degeneration
  • a connective tissue disorder
  • lupus

Interested in other resources for mental health?

We’re here to help. Explore our evidence-driven reviews of top providers, products, and more to support your physical and emotional well-being.

Seasonal affective disorder can often be alleviated with proactive lifestyle changes. These include:

  • going to bed early and waking up at or near dawn
  • going outside for extended periods of time, especially first thing in the morning
  • avoiding substances that can adversely affect your ability to sleep, such as alcohol
  • eating whole, nutrient-rich foods
  • exercising

Seeing a mental health professional and taking antidepressant medications, as advised, can also be beneficial.

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, previously known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a condition caused by lowered exposure to sunlight or a change of seasons. Women and young adults are most affected by this condition.

Using a SAD lamp, also known as a light box, can help alleviate symptoms, boosting your mood.

SAD lamps can be effective when used as a solo treatment or combined with other forms of treatment. Either way, always use these lamps under a doctor’s supervision.

Best SAD light therapy lamps in 2021

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Dana Holmes/CNN

Whether winter makes you want to sleep all day or you’ve been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you may have considered purchasing a light therapy lamp — or, as it’s often called, a SAD lamp — to literally brighten your days. Research has shown that a lamp with light intensity of 10K lux set 16 to 24 inches away at a 45-degree angle from the eyes for 30 minutes can help in treating SAD and other mood disorders.

We tested seven of the most popular, highest-rated SAD lamps. We evaluated everything from the variety of useful settings and features to whether it can survive a tumble off a desk. In the end, three lamps shined brighter — figuratively, not literally — than all the others.

Prime Early Access Deal

Happy Light Luxe by Verilux

Best light therapy lamp overall

The Happy Light Luxe by Verilux is sleek, slim, packable and stable, and its well-thought-out controls — which were missing from almost every other light that we tested — made customizing the experience a pleasure.

$99. 95 $55.99 at Amazon $69.99 at Walmart

Circadian Optics Lampu


Though not as customizable, the Circadian Optics Lampu performs the most important functions of a SAD lamp like a star. It's sturdy, well designed, easy to use and bright —and its nonslip bottom should be standard among all SAD lamps.

$69.99 at Amazon

Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp

Best portable light therapy lamp

Although the Circadian Optics Lumos's surface area is smaller than any of the other lamps that we tested and, therefore, may take longer to produce the full effect, this little workhorse gets the job done and won't quit on you.

$49. 99 at Amazon

Happy Light Luxe by Verilux

Dana Holmes/CNN

Hands down our favorite SAD lamp, this light has it all with zero unnecessary fluff. It’s packable and powerful, and it’s the most customizable lamp we tested. It’s a true champion, seriously outperforming the competition even at its relatively reasonable price. Each of the extras that it does come with are useful and well thought out. For example, no other light we tested offered a color temperature adjustment. Quick lesson: No light is actually white. Color temperature is the warmth or coolness of the light, or the amount of pink or gold or blue tint. Generally, higher-lux lights like SAD lamps tend to have cooler — more blue — temperatures. But the Happy Light Luxe allows you to adjust its brightness and temperature. Opt for cool light like a summertime sunlight, or go for a warm light, to mimic a cozy late sunrise or early sunset.

The three controls are easy to figure out — with a quick test or read through the instructions — and are right on the front so there’s significantly less fumbling, picking up or feeling around for a button, like on other models that we tested. Overall, setting combinations seem endless, especially when we factor in not just the whopping four brightness levels and three color temperatures, but also a timer that can be set by five-minute increments all the way up to one full 60-minute session. The timer is ideal for a long morning session or an afternoon pick-me-up at the tap of a button. Finding the perfect combination is part of the charm of this lamp; you can adjust the settings until you find which of the 144 possible combinations work best for you.

Other interesting things to note about this lamp are its versatility and durability. It can be mounted on the wall using a simple kit that’s included in the box. Basically, you just swap the foot from the bottom to the back of the light and use a screw with an included anchor to hang it wherever you’d like. This makes it able to work with even the smallest, most cluttered room or desk.

When we drop-tested the UV-free Happy Light Luxe, we satisfyingly pushed it off of a desk onto both a rug and a hard floor from a countertop several times. The attachable foot fell off each time but easily slipped back on without any physical damage or malfunction afterward. Speaking of design, this light is slim, slick and easy on the eyes. The corners are rounded and the matte screen prevents glare whether it’s on or off. The white case could contrast with some decors and could potentially get dusty, but swiping with a damp cloth would easily clean that up.

One odd downfall of this light is that its cord isn’t as long as the competition at just under 6 feet. The other two winners have cords longer than 7 feet, which isn’t a big difference, but we struggled to get the Happy Light Luxe’s cord to reach the outlet behind our 36-inch-deep desk and ended up using an extension cord. We also found ourselves wanting the ability to swivel or raise the light to customize the experience even more.

Circadian Optics Lampu

Dana Holmes/CNN

For $10 less than the overall winner, you can snag the Circadian Optics Lampu. Even in the box, from the very beginning we had a hunch we were going to love this light. The packaging was thoughtful and the design well beyond necessity, which gave us hope that more attention to detail was to come. Turns out we were right. It’s got looks, it produces brilliant light, it’s easy to move around the home or office and it won’t break easily if dropped.

Lampu is more of a modernist sculpture than other lamps we tested, which makes it both simple and a conversation piece. Its circular shape also seems to benefit its durability, because when we conducted the drop test its lack of corners to shatter helped it immensely. After multiple drops, the Lampu still looked and functioned as new. The construction overall feels very solid, with all its components tightly connected with no jiggling or rattling. It got the highest score for the drop test of any lamp we tested, though it is weighty enough that it won’t knock over easily. After much twisting and testing, none of its parts showed signs of loosening. The cord is also much longer than the winner’s — 7 feet 4 inches versus 5 feet 10 inches. The Lampu has a slightly smaller light-surface area than the Happy Light Luxe — 38.5 square inches for Lampu and 54 square inches for the Happy Light Luxe. Something about its round shape, though, made it feel more like a sun lamp and more cozy than the Happy Light Luxe, which seemed more utilitarian with its rectangular shape and stand.

There are several reasons why this lamp didn’t snag our winning spot; however, the biggest is its lack of settings. The Lampu has only three brightness levels that you access by tapping the button one, two or three times. The single button’s placement is also not ideal: It’s on the back of the lamp, so until you have become one with your lamp and know exactly where it is — you can’t feel it because it’s purely touch, not a switch — you will have to pick it up and look for it or feel around until something happens. We found feeling around to be annoying and just picked it up each time, which, admittedly, is also annoying, but faster and less awkward.

It doesn’t have a timer, which means you’ll have to set your phone or something else to know when to shut it off. It doesn’t have color temperature adjustment either, so you’re stuck with the standard cool shine. Also, its glassy face does look shiny and slick, but it can reflect other light sources in the room and cause a slight glare. Speaking of the design, although it looks like something out of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and we appreciated that, it may not work with more traditional decor. A wall-mount option is not included, but for what it lacks in extra features it makes up for with quality construction and thoughtful design — other than that button on the back.

Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp

Dana Holmes/CNN

If hopping one planes to different time zones or heading farther north or south regularly are part of your routine, then the Circadian Optics Lumos 2. is the right SAD lamp for you. It folds up in such a fun, swivelly way and emits a surprising amount of light for such a small light-surface area of 9 square inches. The folding could be seen as an issue if the parts were janky in any way, but this lean, mean light therapy machine swivels into uncountable positions so that you can get your shot of 10K lux in almost any scenario.

The swivel is a nice feature that lets you point the light at exactly the right angle. Folded up, the Lumos measures a petite 14 by 2.5 by 1.25 inches, so you can take it with you almost anywhere in your work bag or carry-on suitcase. This long, tall light is also wall mountable, which makes it ready to work in any situation where space is at a premium. Another thing we really like about both Circadian Optics lamps is the organized, well-designed and simple-to-open packaging. When it came time to the drop test, this little guy took a licking and kept on ticking. We thought the slender design would cause it to break apart when knocked off of a counter onto a wood floor, but it survived all of the drop tests completely unscathed.

Although the light is bright and can be swiveled for maximum benefit, the light doesn’t provide a true sunshine experience because of the small surface area, which is why it didn’t take top honors. This lamp also doesn’t have a timer or any other setting beyond the three light brightness settings. The single button is placed right on the front so it’s easy to find and tap once, twice or three times to achieve your preferred brightness, but of the three settings, it seemed like only the brightest could be considered competitive with the other lamps. We tested this on a particularly dark and groggy winter New York City morning and the highest setting was the only one to break through the gray overcast natural light that came in through the window.

The Lumos comes with an attachable foot for using on a desktop rather than wall mounting for added versatility, but it comes across like a bit of an afterthought. This lamp is very lightweight and somewhat unstable on a crowded desk. We’d like to see the base more weighted for maximum stability. The plastic of the base is sturdy, but a nonslip bottom would also be an improvement. As it is, it’s pretty easy to knock over. Even just pushing the button on the front caused it to push back and wobble.

Before committing to purchasing one of these lights you may be asking, “What is SAD, anyway?” Seasonal affective disorder is basically defined as a bout of depression during the same time frame each year for at least two years in a row, followed by remission during the remaining months, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Women and people who live in areas that see less daylight in the winter months seem to be more affected than others, according to the National Institutes of Health.

If that sounds anything like you, the next logical question may be “Can a SAD lamp help?” Since 1984 when it was first researched, bright light therapy (BLT) has proven to improve those winter doldrums again and again. Enter the SAD lamp. Scientists have started zeroing in on exactly what kind of light, when to use it and how much light will do the trick best. The two key things that have been identified in order to get the best results are 10K lux brightness and UV filtered light. In general, the light should be 16 to 24 inches from your face and point toward your eyes from the side and at an angle of about 45 degrees, or halfway between your nose and your shoulder. Never look directly at the light. (You wouldn’t look at the sun, would you? That’s basically what this is mimicking.) Thirty minutes at 10K lux first thing in the morning (generally recommended to occur before 8 a.m.) is the equivalent of one hour of sunrise. See the lamp’s instructions for its specific recommendations.

Before adding a SAD lamp to your morning routine, speak with your doctor. Certain supplements, lifestyles and medical conditions have shown to reduce or negatively impact the use of light therapy. Even with a doctor’s approval, it’s recommended to test your personal reaction to the light by setting it about 18 inches from your face at an indirect angle (ideally 45 degrees from your forward glance) for about 10 minutes. If you feel dizzy, get a headache or experience any other odd symptoms, a SAD lamp, sadly, may not be for you.

To make sure we truly found the best light therapy lamp, we spent weeks testing. We compared performance, build, features, warranty — all by the same criteria. We took notes on how each handled, from unboxing to falling off of a desk onto a hard floor.

As much of the United States is in the danger zone and experiencing those darker months right now while testing, it made for a perfect scenario to test the brightness options and overall light experience. Our home office was overloaded with boxes and cables, but it quickly became clear which were the front runners and which just didn’t have what it takes to edge out the competition. Lining them all up and testing them enables us to identify differences you wouldn’t otherwise notice when using one lamp at a time. Subtle differences in things like brightness and light experience became obvious, while important features like a timer and desk footprint emerged as stark points of differentiation.

All of the lamps we tested met the 10K lux light therapy brightness recommendation, but from there they each provided their own unique experience. From packaging to customizing the light’s angle, brightness and color temperature, we ran each light through the paces to see which rose to the top — more details on exactly how we tested and scored can be found below. Lamps with larger surface areas did produce a more enveloping light that felt less pointy (is that a technical term? No, but you know what we mean) than the smaller lights, but their bulkiness along with other factors made them less appealing overall. Most of the lamps we tested didn’t have timers, which we thought was odd considering there’s a fairly standard recommended time limit for exposure to a light therapy lamp of 20 to 60 minutes. It’s not too much extra work, however, to use an egg timer or the timer on a phone. Our three winners scored high marks in the usefulness of their various light settings and controls as well as their mobility.

This is how we tested each lamp to determine our winners:

Overall performance

  • Sitting time: The lamps fell into three categories for this test. There were those that required a minimum of 15 minutes, those that required a minimum of 20 and those that required at least 30. The lower the required use time, the higher the score.
  • Light quality: Does the light filter out UV light? Does it generate 10K lux of light? Does the light glare? Almost every lamp got the full points for this. Points were deducted for glare and lack of mention of UV filter.
  • Number of settings: All lamps turn on and off, but any setting beyond that scored additional points. This includes swivels, timers, brightness settings, color temperature settings and beyond. More settings meant more points.
  • Versatility: Lights earned points for their ability to be used in various situations, such as on a crowded desk or wall, carried in a suitcase or placed on a hotel nightstand.
  • Heat: The less we felt the heat of the light during a full recommended session, the higher the score. Sweating in your desk chair is gross, but luckily, none of the lamps radiated heat, although some did feel warm to touch.
  • Difference in settings: While testing, we were careful to note whether the settings felt noticeably different — whether compared to each lamp’s own settings or the settings of the competition. The more noticeable, practical and intuitive the settings, the higher the score.
  • Timer: Does the lamp have a timer setting capability? If so, how customizable is it?


  • Durability and quality: The top of the chart for us, as far as build goes, is the quality of the construction and materials. We rattled, we twisted, we knocked them off of counters onto a hard floor twice and off of desks onto carpet two times as well to see if we could damage each light with typical stressors. We also looked at the instructions for cleaning and maintenance and assessed how easy or difficult it is to care for. There were some clear winners in this category and some clear duds.
  • Cord length: It’s surprising how much a few extra inches, or feet, can make in a cord. This is especially important for a lamp that has a high potential to be moved from bedroom to dining table to desk to hotel nightstand. Not being able to reach an outlet means no light therapy, which makes the lamp completely useless. We definitely struggled with getting a few plugged in under the desk and had to opt for an extension cord — yuck. So, we made sure to give lamps with ample cord length a higher score.
  • Overall design: If this light is going to be a permanent fixture in your office or home, you’re going to want it to look good there. Although this may be seen as a subjective analysis, we tried our best to consider how each lamp would fit in a variety of rooms and decor. The more versatile the design, the higher the points. Most of these lights were designed for practical use, but a few stood out as better designed than the others.
  • Button placement: Buttons came in all sorts of shapes, sizes, functionality and locations. Sometimes we were hunting for the switch; other times it was so simple that we wished all lamps could follow suit. We asked ourselves whether the buttons were easy to use and clearly marked.
  • Extras: We made sure to evaluate additional features that weren’t standard across the board to see if they were brilliant or useless. One extra that we saw a few times and loved was a nonskid base — genius.
  • Noise level: Although this was a category for testing, it turned out that none of the lamps made enough noise for us to notice. So, they all earned full points here.


Length of warranty ranged widely from one year to seven years, and points were awarded accordingly.

Aura Day Light Lamp, 10,000 Lux of Full Spectrum Bright Light With Adjustable Lux Dial and Timer ($127.89;

With the fourth-highest score behind our top three, we really wanted to like this lamp. As the second-most expensive lamp we tested, we wrongly assumed this light would dazzle us. It didn’t. It completely broke! First, the good stuff: The Aura Day Light Lamp has the lowest minimum recommended exposure time of 15 minutes. It has five brightness and six time settings. The patented LuxDial dimmer knob lets you customize your brightness, or start low and increase the brightness as you adjust to the light. The other buttons have a satisfying gentle click when pushed and are easy to use right on the front. Other notable features are that the Aura is wall mountable and comes with a 7-foot-long cord — one of the longest we tested. However, this lamp failed our drop test. We knocked it off of the desk onto the rug and it made a rattling sound but kept working. When we knocked it off of the kitchen counter onto the hard floor, the light dimmed, flickered, went out and would not turn back on.

Even before the drop test, we could hear rattling inside the light, and the casing felt flimsy right out of the box. The materials didn’t seem tightly put together, and there was a lot of space inside the light that made it bulky on the desktop. Its size wasn’t a major issue — we definitely tested larger lamps — but it was bulkier than the winner and had a larger light-surface area of 96 square inches to go with it. Aura’s design also feels a bit dated, but the dimmer knob and large buttons make it easy for older folks to use. Overall, this light could be good for someone who will leave it in one place (ideally in a carpeted room) and needs a timer as well as easy, clicking buttons and turn dial features.

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp ($109.99;

The bulkiest light we tested was hands down the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus. This was a beast to get out of the packaging, required assembly and came with its own tool to put it together. With such effort to get it on the desk along with its $100+ price tag, we hoped it would be the star of the show. Alas, this lamp did not meet our expectations. For such a bulky stand, we wanted it to go higher so that it could fit over our computer monitors, not just over a laptop screen. Also, the swivel only goes up and down, not side to side. It’s still nice to have the ability to adjust, but it feels overengineered while still underperforming.

The large forked base helped stabilize the extra-large and -bright light box that is perched on a swiveling arm, but the top still felt heavier than the bottom, and it was easy to knock it off of the desk with an elbow. After multiple falls, the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus kept on working, so we didn’t dock points there. We were surprised that the swivel arm didn’t break its hinges at all when it crashed to the floor in its bent state, mostly because it seems like it would take the brunt of the weight and pressure on impact. So, we’ll give credit to its very strong construction.

On another note, the slide switch sticks out of the side panel and adjusts from “hi” to “lo” to “off” positions. The switch construction and location make it easy to find but felt a little jangly when we wiggled it. The five-year warranty is a great bonus, but it wasn’t enough to rise this light to the top. If you’re looking for a big, bright and enveloping light that will be a permanent fixture behind your laptop — the low setting works as a desk lamp too — this behemoth could be the lamp of your dreams.

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite ($160. 10, originally $189.99;

We appreciated Northern Light Technologies Boxelite’s black metal casing and massive surface area, but this light box doesn’t have what it takes to be our winner. Here’s what we loved: The large surface area meant the light enveloped us like being outside in summertime without putting off any heat, and we expected the metal to get hot, but it did not. The top got slightly warm to the touch by the end of the recommended time frame of 20 to 30 minutes, but that warmth never radiated out. The basic on/off switch was easy to use and did the job well. We should note that the on/off switch is the only feature on this lamp; there aren’t any settings or adjustments to be made. It also comes with a whopping seven-year warranty — the longest warranty of all of the lamps we tested.

Although packaging wasn’t a specific criterion, it was part of the overall design that we considered. The Northern Light Technologies Boxelite packaging was not impressive, which was surprising considering the price point. The light was simply covered in bubble wrap and packing tape, then placed in a basic cardboard box with an 8.5-by-11-inch black-and-white sheet of instructions. Each time we knocked the Northern Light Technologies Boxelite off of the desk, one of the white plastic screws holding the screen onto the box corners would break off. We ended the drop tests with the light itself still working but only one screw still intact and a flapping screen. There weren’t any extra screws provided in the box, and we couldn’t figure out how to get a broken screw out of the lamp anyway. We thought this would be a great box light for a film photographer to use with slides or negatives, but unfortunately it missed the mark as a SAD lamp due to its construction and lack of versatility and lack of customization.

Verilux HappyLight VT10 ($29.99, originally $39.95;

At first glance, the Verilux HappyLight VT10 seems quite cute and versatile because of its small size. You could potentially put it in a travel bag or on a crowded desk or small nightstand. Its price tag is also appealing from a value perspective, plus the included instructions are thorough. But in short this lamp was a dud. Because of the small, 20-square-inch surface area, the light felt less bright than the others we tested, and could really use the ability to adjust the angle. There aren’t any brightness settings or other extras to customize the light experience at all. The cord is the shortest we tested at 5 feet long. We could hear rattling pieces when we took it out of the box, as if poorly constructed, not damaged in transit. Our initial reaction to the rattling pieces was proven correct during the drop test. First, pieces broke off of the top and bottom, then on the second drop, the entire lamp shattered all over the room, including the fluorescent lightbulb. Overall, this lamp is not even worth the low price tag. Spending a bit more will get a much better and long-lasting product.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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Top 5 Sunlight Lamps for Winter Depression and Light Therapy

According to the US National Library of Medicine:

“Some people experience severe mood changes during the winter months when there is less sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms.”

This once neglected issue is finally being recognized as a real problem. In the USA from 1.4 to 9.7% of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder – and the farther north you live, the more likely you are to experience it.

Symptoms may resemble mental exhaustion:

  • Sad, anxious or "empty" feelings.
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or pessimism.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Tiredness, oversleeping or trouble sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions.
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

There is a big difference between seasonal depression and clinical depression .

If your depression occurs only during certain months of the year, then it is most likely seasonal, in which case it can be treated with light therapy and sunlight lamps. If your depression is more than just a season, seek help from one of these online resources to learn about depression.

How does light therapy work?

Typically, animals experience a period of reduced activity during the winter months. People may also experience slowdowns during the winter because sunlight regulates our body clock, and reduced sunlight availability leads to hormonal changes that affect sleep and mood. However, the exact cause of seasonal depression is still unknown.

Light Therapy works on the "reduced sunlight" hypothesis and tries to solve the problem with artificial sunlight (or at least something that mimics sunlight). The theory is that you can "reset" your biological clock during the winter by making up for the loss of sunlight, which should prevent seasonal internal changes.

Light therapy is the first line treatment for seasonal depression - if you are diagnosed with winter affective disorder, then light therapy should be one of your first treatment attempts. If it works, great! If not, other treatments should be considered.

Only certain types of light should be used in light therapy. Avoid all forms of full spectrum light, UV light, tanning lamps and heat lamps! When in doubt, always consult your doctor, especially if your case of seasonal affective disorder is self-diagnosed.

How to choose a solar light therapy lamp

Sunlight lamps go by many names: "light therapy lamps", "light therapy devices", "phototherapy boxes" and even "lightboxes". These devices tend to do the same thing - they emit a bright light that mimics sunlight, but not all sunlight lamps are equally effective.

Some solar lamps are not designed for seasonal depression. Light therapy is actually used to treat a number of other problems, including some skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. These types of light therapy lamps emit ultraviolet light, which can be dangerous. Stick to sunlight lamps that are explicitly labeled for seasonal depression.

Whiter and brighter is usually better. The brightness of a lamp is measured in lux, and the higher the lux rating, the more light it emits. Brighter lamps require less exposure time per day, but can be inconvenient to use. Your distance from the lamp also matters - the farther away you plan to sit, the brighter the light should be. For best results, stay between 2500 and 10000 lux.

You may also find that some solar lamps emit "blue" light while others emit "white" light. There is no conclusive evidence that one is more effective than the other, but white light is generally cheaper and generally considered safer.

LEDs are the most energy efficient. Sunlight lamps are available in incandescent, fluorescent and LED options. The brightness of the light is more important than the type of bulb, but if you can, use an LED sunlight bulb, which will use much less power than an incandescent or fluorescent bulb.

Recommended Sunlight Lamps for Light Therapy


Alaska Northern Lights NorthStar

If you're looking for a solar lamp that's effective, clinically tested, doctor-recommended, and built to last for years, it's worth a lot of money. It may hurt to shell out a few hundred dollars for a solar lamp, but this one is worth it.

Alaska's NorthStar Northern Lights is a sunlight lamp specially designed to combat seasonal depression. At 24 inches and 10,000 lux, you'll get a lot of light from this thing - enough that you can sit up to 2 feet apart (instead of the more common 1 foot).

This lamp has a 60 day money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. It uses fluorescent lamps, emits no harmful UV rays, and has been on the market for over two decades. Do you want something proven and true? This is the one.

2. Carex Day-Light Sky

For an option that's more affordable than NorthStar but still built with quality and efficiency, consider this Adjustable Sunlight Bulb from Carex Health Brands.

The Carex daylight sky is similar to what you'll find in a doctor's office, but don't let that scare you. It produces bright fluorescent light with two settings - 7,000 lux or 10,000 lux - and emits virtually no UV light.

The lamp is 24 inches tall, but the lightbox itself is only 12 inches. Both the lightbox and the extension arm can be rotated to a noticeable degree, which is very handy when you need to move the lamp for any reason.

3. NatureBright SunTouch Plus

If you're on a budget, we recommend saving until you can afford one of the two lamps above. But if you really need it right now without spending too much, here's the next best thing for you: NatureBright SunTouch Plus.

This thing comes with a plastic case so it won't be as reliable as the alternatives above (both have metal exteriors), but the light itself shines at 10,000 lux so it's still effective for light therapy against seasonal depression.

The light emitting area is about 12 inches, which is large enough for home use, but doesn't have any hinges or hinges to adjust, so it might be a little awkward to adjust comfortably.

4. Lightforia Gadget Sphere

Large sunlight lamps are good if you sit at your computer all day, but if you work in an environment where you are constantly moving from place to place, a stationary lamp will not do you much good.

That's why you might need a portable solar lamp. And for that matter, nothing beats the value of Sphere Gadget Lightphoria. The device is about 6 inches long but puts out an impressive 10,000 lux of light (you can turn it down if it's too bright for you).

The main thing is that it has LED lamps, so it does not consume much energy at all, and also has timer functions for 15, 30 and 45 minutes. No wonder this item is a bestseller in Amazon's Light Therapy product category.

5. Verilux HappyLight Liberty

If you can't get Lightphoria for whatever reason (maybe it's too expensive) or if you don't like it (maybe it's too small), then consider another portable solar lamp. light: Verilux HappyLight Liberty .

At 7 inches it is slightly larger than the Lightphoria, but only emits light at a maximum output of 5000 lux. It is still effective for light therapy, but you will need to expose it for longer periods of time and place it closer to you - about 8 inches apart.

It's not perfect, but incredibly cheap. You will not find another light therapy lamp at this price with the same level of efficiency.

Light therapy doesn't always work

Although light therapy is a first line treatment, it is not perfect. If you happen to buy a solar light bulb and it doesn't help you, then you should see a doctor and get a professional diagnosis.

Seasonal depression may not even be your problem. You may be suffering from too much stress as a result of working too hard (i.e., workaholism). Maybe you need to start exercising more. Perhaps your computer habits are preventing you from sleeping.

If light therapy is not an option for you, consider these alternatives, especially those related to sleep health. Check out our article on devices to help you sleep better. that will help you fall asleep, fall asleep that will help you sleep better.

Image credits: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock

How to get out of depression and blues, and how they differ

The WHO predicts that depression will become the world's most common disease, ahead of cardiovascular diseases and infections. This is already one of the most common causes of disability in a person. Depression is called the plague of the 21st century. Over the past 50 years, the number of people with depression has increased 10 times!

Pharmacology is developing and there are many effective drugs in the fight against depression. But it is much more important to observe preventive measures when such an epidemic is raging in the world. To maintain health and mood, you need to know the safety measures and ways to deal with a depressive state.

In this article:

Depression or blues? If bluesHow to get out of depression

Depression or blues?

Photo by Khoa Võ: Pexels

It is worth distinguishing correctly states: depression or depressive state. In moments of sadness or apathy, many “diagnose” depression in themselves. But this is far from true. Depression is a mental illness that can lead to disability and disability.

Healthy people experience depressive states, reduced emotional background, in other words, spleen. It is with her that you can cope on your own and at home. Depression is not just about being sad. With depression, a protracted, maliciously dreary state often occurs.

When depressed, a person becomes irritable and impatient, extremely tired.

Depression noticeably worsens the condition:

  • Memory decreases. A person forgets simple things, becomes distracted, and may even forget something important. For example, going to the store without a list will not work. Or describe your symptoms to a doctor - a person can forget even what is important. Or maybe forget about making an appointment with the doctor.
  • Decreased flexibility of thinking. It becomes difficult to perform mental work, attention is scattered, any mental operations quickly exhaust.
  • Irritability and melancholy. It's not just a sad mood. In such an emotional state, it is difficult to communicate with a person.
  • Seriously disturbed sleep - insomnia or constant drowsiness that does not go away.

How to get out of depression?

  • Disorder of appetite. A person ceases to feel hunger, food can be disgusting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of interest in important aspects of life.

If these symptoms persist for more than 14 consecutive days, then depression can be judged. In this case, it is necessary to consult a neurologist and a psychiatrist. Self-medication is dangerous.

If spleen

Symptoms of spleen or depression that everyone has:

  • Sleep disturbance. These violations do not exhaust the person much. It can be difficult to fall asleep due to a stream of thoughts, or after waking up - in the morning - a bad mood. But gradually the melancholy dissipates, you get distracted at work and the mood evens out. In general, a person sleeps normally. Sometimes there may be drowsiness, especially on cloudy days. But at the same time, a person copes with work and everyday affairs.
  • Disorder of appetite. Taste preferences may change. For example, you want more sweets. Or the appetite decreases and you don’t know what to eat, homemade food bothers you, you want something special. But you still eat something, snack, grab pieces, but there is a need for food.
  • Nightmares. Frequent companions of depression. There may even be repetitive scenes.
  • Gloomy thoughts, sadness, thoughts about death and the meaning of life.
  • I often want to cry.

With these symptoms, normal activities persist: work, at least some household chores, communication with relatives. A person is able to communicate, sometimes he can be fun. And these symptoms do not last long, usually for a few days.

How to get out of depression

If you don't have clinical depression, you can manage it yourself.

  • Watch your sleep pattern. Set an alarm and in the evening, be sure to go to bed on time! It is strictly not recommended to fall asleep later than 23.00. the ideal time is 22.00. while sleeping in the room should be fresh and dark. No lights, not even the dimmest ones. The brain reacts to any glow and does not produce hormones that are so necessary for good sleep.
  • Morning should start in the morning, not closer to dinner. If sleep deprivation has accumulated, give yourself a little more sleep, but too much sleep will cause lethargy.
  • Morning shower. Warm, closer to cool. Gradually do the contrast. Increasing the difference in water temperature. This will give energy for the whole day.
  • A glass of clean water in the morning. And during the day, be sure to follow the drinking regime - maintain the health of the body.
  • Take the caffeine off for a while. This insidious stimulant takes your own resources and drains your strength. Coffee invigorates only for a while, and then causes a decrease in energy. Switch to herbs if you can't live without the tea ceremony.
  • Watch your diet. A healthy, balanced diet will give you energy and a desire to move. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, and generally natural products. For example, instead of artificial sugar - natural honey.
  • Exercise in the morning. A few simple exercises will wake up the body and appetite. And also, at least 1-2 times a week, devote time to sports. Leave all the negativity in the gym. Choose what will please you - dancing, yoga, power.
Photo by Polina Zimmerman: Pexels
  • Read good books. Fill your mind with bright thoughts, good stories. Information is like food, you choose what you fill yourself with.
  • Do not watch news and negativity. From your participation, the situation in the world will not change, but your condition will become better. Be careful with gadgets and the Internet. It is better to minimize information that causes negative emotions. Why do you need them?
  • During the day, continue to filter the flow of information: avoid gossip and negative conversations with colleagues and friends. Associate with those who are filled with positive thoughts and feelings. Learn new things, share positive emotions. Become the kind of person next to whom you don’t want to talk about bad things.
  • Smile. To yourself in the mirror, to children, to girlfriends and relatives. With age, the expression with which he walked most often is imprinted on a person’s face. Do you want to be a cheerful, sweet grandmother or a gloomy old woman?
  • Write a gratitude journal every evening. Remember what happened that day? What have you learned? What did you talk about with people? What did you do that was especially successful for you? Don't forget to thank yourself too.
  • Watch your wardrobe. Clothing has a very strong effect on mood and condition. Get rid of things that don't make you happy. Leave only those that affect your state positively.
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