Light therapy is a great way to help treat the effects of dark, dreary weather and other conditions revolving around energy levels and happiness. If you’ve been recommended to use one of these lights, it’s important to learn how to pick the right one for you. Looking for the best light therapy lamp (SAD lights) means comparing what you need to what might be available to purchase.

Why Use a Light Therapy Lamp?

Light therapy is an effective way to increase energy levels and to make you happier, if you are experiencing symptoms based on certain conditions. Most often, light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression, jet lag (or an abnormal circadian rhythm, sleep disorders, unnatural sleeping habits (like working the night shift), and even dementia. (Reference link)

The brightness used in therapy lights mimics the effects of the sun. This has a positive impact on your body and mind, especially when you aren’t being exposed to natural sunshine. Many people try light therapy because it has few sides effects, it can increase the effectiveness of some medications like antidepressants, and it is a drug-free alternative for pregnancy or organic living.

Benefits of Light Therapy

What makes light therapy a better option than some other treatments for the same disorders? There are a few notable benefits that come with the best light therapy lamp:

  • Treatment can be done while you do other things

You can use a light therapy lamp while you’re working, reading, watching TV, or anything else that doesn’t require constant movement. For this treatment to work, the light has to indirectly enter your eyes, so you can’t use it while sleeping or resting, nor while moving too much.

  • Proven effective for many people

Studies that used a light therapy lamp versus a placebo showed that the lamp actually worked for many participants. It’s an effective way to treat the disorders I mentioned above, and it works for almost everyone to some extent. It’s impossible to find a treatment that’s 100% effective for everyone, but light therapy does work for many different people.

  • Helps to supplement many antidepressants

Light therapy has shown itself to be a useful aid in beating depression. It can be used alongside antidepressants to make them more effective. In some cases, your doctor may be able to lower your dose of antidepressants when you’re using light therapy. You should discuss the use of light therapy lamps with your doctor if you are using antidepressants.

  • Few sides effects, if any

Small side effects like a headache, temporary irritability, eye strain, or nausea are the only real risks associated with the average person using light therapy. If you have bipolar disorder, light therapy may not be a good solution, because it can create bad reactions in your body and cause mania, hyperactivity, or euphoria. Also, if your skin is light sensitive, you are taking a medicine that makes you sensitive to the sun, or if you have an eye condition than light therapy will not be a good choice. (Read more)

How to Use a Therapy Lamp

When you buy a light therapy lamp, what are you supposed to do with it? Your doctor or psychologist may have specific instructions for you. If not, the lights themselves can also give some guidance. In general, you’ll likely be instructed to place the lamp above your head level, but only about a foot away from you. It should be shining from above your head, without being too far away. Many people put them on a pile of books, or on a shelf nearby while in use.

The reason the light should come from above you is because your eye has more light receptors in the bottom than in the top of the eye. Light receptors in the bottom of the eye can sense light above you more easily than you can sense light below you. For the full effect of these lamps, you’ll need to get the most light into your eyes (indirectly) as possible.

How to Choose the Best Light Therapy Lamp

There are so many different light therapy lamps to choose from on the market today. Some are not as effective as others, or they may not be just what you need. Here are some of the things you should take a look at when you’re searching for a light therapy lamp:

  • Brightness

Light therapy lamps need to mimic the sunshine. For this reason, most of them are made with 10,000 lux brightness, because this is what most closely resembles the amount of light we normally get from the sun. If you choose a light with lower brightness, you may have to use it for ever longer than normal. With 10,000 lux brightness, 20 to 30 minutes is all that’s needed. Lower brightness means adding on more time to your treatments.

  • Power Consumption

The larger the light, the more power you will use to get it working right. Maybe this isn’t a big concern for you, but if you have to use your lamp every day for around half an hour per day, the energy needed to run it could become substantial. Look for energy-efficient parts and design that won’t bring your power bill up too high.

  • UV Light Filtration

Although light therapy can help you, it will be really bad for you if you don’t have any ultraviolet light filtration. UV light can be harmful to the skin and the eyes, especially when you’re pointing it directly at you for long periods of time (Reference link).  If you buy a poor-quality light therapy lamp, it may not have enough of the UV light filtered out. Check the percentages to make sure you get the right kind of light.

Read more

This is one reason tanning beds are not a good substitute for light therapy. Some people believe that going tanning is just as effective for light therapy, but it’s actually a completely different type of light that’s used for light therapy versus tanning. Tanning beds may actually harm your skin, and they will not provide any of the same benefits as light therapy lamps; they are purely cosmetic.

  • Type of Bulbs

LED bulbs are the most common type of bulbs used, but you can sometimes find other bulbs in older or cheaper models of therapy lights. The LED models are the most efficient, and usually the brightest, plus they don’t produce heat.

Also, pay attention to the color of the bulbs on the therapy lamp. Some lamps are made with pure blue light, while most are made with white light. There is some debate about this subject, because it’s not unanimously decided which one is the best. Blue lights have a lot less research to show their benefits, while white lights have been proven to be effective. If you want a sure thing, go for white light. If you’re willing to take a risk that may or may not pay off, blue lights are okay to try.

  • Size

Therapy lamps are designed in different ways, including in many different sizes. It’s nice to get one that’s taller, so that you can easily place it above you. The light from these lamps is supposed to shine down on you, not up at you, so a tall lamp is very useful for that reason.

You also have to consider the fact that these lights are meant to shine indirectly into your eyes. If you use a small light, it might be more difficult to get the angle correct for the light. A large light makes it harder to mess up the angle, so you can easily get the light exposure you need without have to fidget around too much with how it’s positioned. But, as I mentioned above, larger lights tend to use more power, and they take up a lot of space.

  • Portability

When you’re on the road a lot, you may need to use your therapy lamp in hotel rooms or other spaces that you don’t normally visit. Or, if you want to take your therapy lamp to the office and back home with you, a smaller and more convenient lamp is going to be an asset. You can’t use a therapy lamp while driving or moving around, but if you get a portable device that is easy to travel with, you can use it during your working hours or downtime while on the go.

  • Extra Features

Modern therapy lamps come with a lot of unexpected features that you may be interested in. It’s worth taking a look at some of the features that are present beyond what I’ve talked about already. I can’t list all of the features available, because the list would be too long and some of them are unique to one or two brands only. Take a look for yourself and see if anything you see if important enough to you.

Top 10 Light Therapy Lamp Reviews 2017

1. Verilux HappyLight Liberty 10,000 LUX Light Therapy Energy Lamp

Verilux HappyLight Liberty 10,000 LUX Light Therapy Energy Lamp
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This is a compact, portable therapy lamp that shines up to 10,000 Lux of UV-blocked light. The light is pure white and safe for use at home. You can easily adjust the brightness up or down if you want a different level of lighting for your treatments. More comfort is added by the optional no glare lens that you can use to cover the light.

You’ll be able to easily mount this unit on the wall nearby to help it shine from the right direction above you. It’s got a slightly curved design that also aids you in getting the best angle for treatments. This Verilux works with a natural spectrum florescent bulb that uses 36 Watts of power.

Pros

  • Helps to give you energy in the morning
  • UV blockage and anti-glare lenses make this light comfortable and safe for your eyes
  • Great customer service from Verilux
  • Easy to set up anywhere
  • Operates silently

Cons

  • Size is a little small
  • Bulbs must be replaced every 2 – 3 years

2. Circadian Optics Lumos Light Therapy Lamp

Circadian Optics Lumos Light Therapy Lamp
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For true portability, this therapy lamp offers the convenient benefit of full USB power (battery or power operated). It’s compact enough to make it easy to carry around, and it is very easy to set up on your desk, or anywhere else you need it. The LED bulbs have a listed lifespan of 50,000 hours, meaning you will probably never have to replace the bulbs in all the time that you own and use this light.

Full spectrum white light shines from the lamp, giving as close of a mimic to natural light as possible in a lamp. You’ll find that this lamp is easy to set up in any different way you need it, and it looks sleek and modern, not bulky or clumsy.

Pros

  • Lamp never gets warm with use
  • Standard USB to AC cable comes with the lamp
  • Can be charged or powered directly through USB
  • Anti-glare filter helps reduce eye strain and discomfort

Cons

  • No timer included in device
  • Must be placed very close to your face to give the full brightness benefits of 10,000 Lux

3. Northern Light Technology Travelite

Northern Light Technology Travelite
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You can use this therapy lamp at the full 10,000 Lux up to 12 inches away from your eyes. It’s got a larger surface area than the more compact devices we looked at above, so it will be a bit easier to get the light shining in the right direction.

This silent lamp is lightweight and can be packed up pretty easily to take around with you if you’re traveling, although it is a little larger than standard portable lamps. It uses florescent bulbs with up to a 20,000-hour lifespan and 48 Watts of power consumption.

Pros

  • UV light is filtered out to keep your eyes and skin safer
  • Operates silently
  • Sits on the tabletop for easy use
  • Durable design will resist most accidental falls or bumps

Cons

  • Weight is around 2 – 3 pounds, making it a little heavy to travel with
  • Built-in stand is not adjustable

4. Aura® Day Light Therapy Lamp

Aura® Day Light Therapy Lamp
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This is an easily adjustable light therapy unit that’s convenient for you and very easy to set up wherever you are. It’s a tabletop lamp with a range from 3,500 to 10,000 Lux brightness. If you would prefer, you can also mount it on the walls for a more convenient placement.

One added feature that makes this a nice choice is the timer feature. You can set it to turn on and off at certain intervals to help you get the treatment you want without forgetting anything. It uses a florescent bulb, and includes a UV filter on the light to keep harmful UV rays from reaching you.

Pros

  • Bulbs rated at 8,000 hours can be replaced easily with new bulbs
  • Lots of settings for adjustable use
  • Small footprint helps you use it anywhere without running out of space
  • Shut the light off automatically using the timer feature

Cons

  • Has to be placed 8 – 10 inches from you to get the full 10,000 Lux
  • Timer cannot be set for certain times during the day, just for shutting off at certain time intervals during treatment

5. NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp
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This is not just a therapy lamp, but it also features a negative ion treatment along with the 10,000 Lux lights. The combination of these two types of treatment makes it an even better treatment for depression and seasonal affective disorder.

Light emitted from the lamp is UV-free for your safety. You can set the built-in timer to turn the light off at your chosen interval between 15 and 60 minutes of treatment. Both the negative ionizer and the therapy lamp work together while the lamp is on.

Pros

  • Added benefit of negative ionizing treatment on top of light therapy
  • Great for retraining your brain into new sleep habits
  • Large enough to easily be present in your peripherals, even if you shift or move a little
  • Very bright light helps you get energy on dark mornings

Cons

  • Timer cannot turn the device on at a set point, can only turn it off
  • Ionizer may not work well for those with some medical conditions

6. Verilux HappyLight Liberty Personal

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp
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If you want a light therapy solution that’s going to go wherever you do, this is a good choice to look into. The small size and light weight (only 1.5 pounds) make it very easy to stick into your bag and bring along to wherever your next destination is. No matter how small of a space you have, this light will easily fit into it and has enough brightness to keep you energetic and happy.

Natural spectrum florescent lights are used to illuminate, and the device uses 26 Watts of power.

Pros

  • Small and portable
  • Good for winter morning mood pick-ups
  • Easily turn it on and off
  • Works well as a lamp for your desk or working space
  • Value for your money

Cons

  • Does not reach a full 10,000 Lux brightness
  • You may have to use it for longer sessions, because of the lower brightness settings

7. Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp

Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic Plus
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While this is not a very portable design for a therapy lamp, it’s got a built-in stand that makes it very easy to set up on your desk or table. This stand is tall enough to help the light shine down on your from above, as experts have recommended. You can adjust the height and the angle of the light to get the best exposure for your specific size and positioning.

CFL light tubes are used to create the 10,000 Lux brightness. It’s a glare-free light that won’t disturb you on your working surface. This is a much larger home device that can produce great results for you if you use it daily. There is a 99.3% UV filtration over the lights. 108 Watts of power are consumed by the three bulbs in this light.

Pros

  • Adjust between 2 light settings for your choice of brightness
  • Easily make it fit your height and angle requirements
  • Light shines from above, as is recommended by most experts
  • Long life bulbs are easy to replace if necessary

Cons

  • Not easily portable
  • Some odor for the first week or two of use

8. Sunlight Desk Lamp Natural Full Spectrum Sun Light

Sunlight Desk Lamp Natural Full Spectrum Sun Light
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This is not a traditional light therapy lamp, but it can work in that capacity if you need a simple lamp with a bright light. It does not reach the full 10,000 Lux brightness that’s most recommended, although it can be very bright and will still give you many of the same benefits if you use it for longer sessions.

There are a few advantages to using this lamp over others. It has a low power consumption of only 27 Watts, it’s useful as a multi-purpose desk or therapy lamp, and it is easy to adjust the angle of the light to help you get light shining from above you.

Pros

  • Fewer symptoms from light therapy treatment
  • Height is highly adjustable
  • Pure white light is great for all different uses
  • Uses LED bulbs, so you won’t have to replace the bulbs in the life of the device

Cons

  • Not as affective for moderate to severe SAD or depression
  • Base is a little light, so the lamp may fall over sometimes if bumped

9. Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky

Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky
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Another great light therapy lamp from Carex, this uses a balanced white light that’s safe for the eyes and 99.3% UV filtered. It can reach a brightness of the recommended 10,000 Lux with glare-free light that won’t bother you if you’re reading or working while using it. Power consumption is 110 Watts for the two bulbs that make it work.

This is not a portable lamp. It has a sturdy built-in stand that makes it easy to adjust and helps it to shine down, as experts recommend. It’s large enough to make it easy to use, even when you’re moving around a bit in your space.

Pros

  • Highly adjustable to fit your exact needs
  • Works as a therapy lamp or a regular desk lamp
  • Great for a desk at work or at home
  • Strong, flicker-free light that’s safe for your eyes and skin

Cons

  • Not portable; it can’t travel with you easily
  • Takes up a large space with its larger footprint

10. Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria

Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria
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This is a portable therapy lamp that’s small enough to go around with you to pretty much anywhere you can take a bag. It can provide the recommended 10,000 Lux brightness with wide-spectrum light from LED bulbs. Low power consumption of just 7.2 Watts makes this an attractive device from a cost saving point of view, and for the efficiency of traveling needs.

Pros

  • Great for travel
  • Long-lasting bulbs and design
  • Compact size and durable build
  • Programmable shut-off timer for set intervals

Cons

  • Not effective as a wake-up light
  • Stand is poorly made and moves too easily when bumped

Conclusion

From our light therapy lamp reviews above, I would recommend the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp as the best light therapy lamp. It isn’t portable, but it’s a fantastic desk or table lamp that provides exactly the kind of light and the intensity needed for full benefits. You can adjust it easily, and it stands high enough up to give light from above, as experts recommend. UV rays are filtered out to 99.3%, which is about as high as any light is able to do without ruining the output.

There are a lot of things to look at with a therapy light, but I hope you now understand enough to make your own informed decision! Making the right choice could mean a new, more energetic and happier life for you.