A sun lamp, or a light therapy lamp, has been found to be an effective treatment for people having seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is now clinically known major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. This type of depression causes persistent sadness or depression when the seasons change, especially in the fall and winter months, when the days become shorter, and there is less exposure to sunlight. Medication, therapy, and counseling are all effective treatments for seasonal affective disorder, and SAD lamps or sun lamps are one treatment option that many people use to reduce the symptoms and provide relief. Here are some of the best SAD lamps for treating seasonal affective disorder.
What is a SAD Lamp?
A SAD lamp, also known as a sun lamp or light therapy lamp, is an effective form of treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is a type of major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, and it is associated with the lack of sunlight that occurs as the days become shorter in the fall and winter months.(1, 2, 3, 4) Since people take in less natural light during this time as compared to the sunnier and brighter summer season, they experience a fall in the levels of serotonin, which is the ‘happiness’ hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies. This makes some people feel more depressed and exhausted. SAD lamps or light therapy lamps help people feel better by providing light that mimics natural sunlight.(5, 6)
SAD lamps can also help people with general depression. Since people with other forms of depression also experience low serotonin levels, such people can also experience alleviation of their symptoms from using light therapy lamps.(7, 8, 9) SAD lamps are also known to help people with sleeping disorders like insomnia, jet laugh, or just drowsiness caused by a change in working shift schedules. This is because light therapy helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which is your natural sleep and wake cycle. SAD lamps help fight against fatigue and restlessness created when the body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted (10, 11, 12)
How To Choose The Best SAD Lamp?
There are many types of sun lamps and lightboxes available in the market and online that are frequently marketed as SAD or light therapy lamps. However, not all of these lamps are appropriate for use or even effective for seasonal affective disorder or other disorders.
Since SAD lamps are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is why it is so important to ensure that you buy a SAD lamp that provides sufficient light and has been specifically designed for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder.
Some of the features you should look for while choosing a SAD lamp include:
Specifications: An effective SAD lamp should generate 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light. A lux is the measurement of light intensity along with area. Having an output of 10,000 lux means that the lamp generates 20 times more than the light output of most indoor lighting. Lamps with less lux need to be used more frequently than the higher lux ones. You should get a glare-free SAD lamp or at least a lamp that can be positioned at a downward angle so that it eliminates or reduces eye glare.
Safety Considerations: You should not buy a light therapy box that has been designed for the treatment of skin conditions. These lamps are not intended to treat mood disorders and depression. So these won’t be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder. Make sure that the lamp is able to filter out ultraviolet light, and there is a label on it that says UV-free. UV light causes damage to your skin and eyes.
Size: The SAD lamp you buy should have a light surface area of approximately 12 by 15 inches. The larger the surface area, the higher will be the lux of the lamp. Larger lamps also allow you the freedom of moving around more, so you can sit farther away from the lamp without compromising the effectiveness of the light therapy. Smaller SAD lamps are not considered to be as effective as the larger ones, and you may need to use them more frequently and for longer time periods. However, you may also wish to buy a second, smaller lamp if you travel a lot and would like to carry the lamp with you. If your doctor has prescribed a SAD lamp for you, they will also provide individualized usage guidelines for you.
Personal Needs and Style: You should also keep in mind what activity you are most likely to be doing when you use the lamp. You should buy a lamp that will let you easily carry out this activity. For example, lightboxes are known to help with jet lag. (13, 14) So, if you are a frequent traveler, you should ideally buy a small portable lamp.
Best SAD Lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Here are some of the best SAD lamps to use for treating seasonal affective disorder.
Verilux Happy Light Therapy Lamp
This lamp comes in a symmetrical, square design and measures 8.5 x 6.5 x 0.5 inches. This makes it small and discreet, and perfect for frequent travelers who face a space crunch. However, just because the lamp is small in size, its brightness more than makes up for its effectiveness. It operates at 10,000 lux brightness, matching the brightness of the morning sun that people with SAD require, and that too without the harms of any UV rays.
The light from the lamp completely stretches across the front panel, covering whatever room it is placed in with clean and customizable white light. The brightness helps provide comfort and improve your focus, enhance your mood, and also promote a healthy sleep cycle.
Priced at approximately $60, some of the pros and cons of this lamp include:
- The lamp is super portable and compact.
- It can be used both vertically and horizontally.
- It comes with a detachable stand.
- You cannot control the brightness setting.
- The six-foot cord is not considered to be too long by many.
- The stand works best only when placed on even surfaces.
Lavish Home Sunlight Floor Lamp
This lamp is for those who want to use it at home in a comfortable setting. The floor lamp has a flexible gooseneck design, and whatever room you place it in will get bathed in clear, bright light to energize anyone who walks in. The lamp has a 270 watt CFL bulb that provides as much light as a 150-watt bulb but without using the same amount of power. With this, you can experience a total spectrum of daytime sunlight to increase your energy levels focus and also promote better sleep.
The measurement of the lamp is 60.0 x 10.0 x 9.0 inches, and it features a weighted base to provide stability. The lamp operates with 1300 lumens, and the bulb can last up to seven to eight months without needing to be replaced. You can purchase the lamp for $42, and it is available in a variety of bright colors.
The pros and cons of this floor lamp include:
- It is vibration and shock-resistant.
- The lamp can be easily assembled.
- You can adjust the height and angle of the lamp.
- It is only ideal for rooms that are over 350 square feet.
Verilux Happy Light VT10 Compact Personal
If you are on a budget, then this SAD lamp comes inside a pocket-friendly budget. At just $30, this Verilux SAD lamp is not only affordable but also compact. The lamp is entirely UV-free and includes flicker elimination technology and optic glare control lens lighting to decrease the strain on your eyes and prevent damage to your skin.
This lamp has a full spectrum of 10,000 lux light intensity. It boosts your energy, focus, mood and also helps improve your sleep. Measuring just 6.3 x 3.0 x 7.4 inches, the lamp is super compact and weighs only 1.5 pounds. This makes it easy to take along with you while traveling.
The pros and cons of this lamp include:
- The lamp is completely UV-free.
- It has been specially designed to reduce eye strain.
- It has a compact design.
- You have to maneuver it a little bit to position it at eye level.
Theralite Aura Bright Light Therapy Lamp
This is a glare-free and UV-free lamp with 10,000 lux light intensity. You can adjust the height and angle, which lets you set it up just how you want it to fit nicely on your desk. The lamp has four settings, and 168 energy-efficient LED lights. The lamp is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their focus and mood, combat sleep disorders, boost their overall health, or just brighten up their work table.
There are fought light settings so that you can adjust the light as per your preferred brightness. The manufacturer recommends placing the light just above your line of vision to maximize the amount of light that reaches your eyes. Make sure that you face the lamp with your eyes open when using it so that you can get maximum benefits. But there is no need to look at the light directly. This therapy light is available for $70 and weighs just under four pounds, making it easy to store and move around.
Pros and cons of the Theralite Aura Bright Light Therapy Lamp include:
- Adjustable angle and height.
- Comes with four brightness settings.
- Compact and lightweight.
- The top is heavier than the bottom, causing it to tip over.
Carex Day-Light Classic Light Therapy Lamp
Priced at $120, this SAD lamp emits 10,000 lux of glare-free LED white therapy light. The lamp comes in two light settings. It also blocks 99 percent of the UV rays and projects the light at a downward angle to ensure maximum effectiveness. Having a broad surface to project the light from, this lamp offers a full dosage of light from 12 inches away. This means that you do not need to sit right next to the lamp.
The lamp has been designed to improve sleep, enhance your mood, and also improve concentration.
The angle and height of the lamp are adjustable, and the entire lamp stands on a pedestal. The lamp also comes with a five-year warranty.
Pros and cons of this SAD lamp include:
- The lamp has an adjustable height and angle.
- It has a broad/large light face.
- There are two brightness settings.
- The lamp is heavier than most other options.
Seasonal affective disorder, or major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, is a condition caused by a change of seasons, particularly in the fall and winter months when the amount of sunlight is less. Women and young adults are most affected by this type of depression. Using a SAD lamp, or a light therapy lamp, or a lightbox is an effective form of treatment for seasonal affective disorder. A SAD lamp can help provide relief from your symptoms and also boost your mood. SAD lamps are effective for treating this type of depression when used either as a solo treatment or even when combined with other types of treatment like therapy and medications. However, it is always advisable to use these lamps after consulting your doctor.
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