Best Light Therapy Lamps Review

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Best light therapy lamps review seasonal affective disorder

Best Light Therapy Lamps

If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you may well dread the first days of autumn. The sun sits lower in the sky, the days are shorter, and the skies are often clouded over—and that is when depression rears its head. 

Your doctor may have recommended that you purchase a light therapy lamp for SAD. Research studies have demonstrated that light therapy treatment is effective in reducing depression in those with seasonal affective disorder. 

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the top-selling light therapy lamps online. But first, let’s talk a little more about what light therapy lamps are, how they treat SAD, and the types of lamps and features you can shop for.

What is a Light Therapy Lamp?

If you have SAD, you get insufficient vitamin D your sun exposure is limited, and your circadian rhythms are adversely affected. This is true for everyone, but for those with depression, the resulting hormonal imbalances can be more severe, resulting in the winter blues. 

Light therapy lamps simulate the full spectrum light of day. There are various types of bulbs in use: cool-white, bi-axial, triphosphor, and more. Regardless of the specific technology, what is important is for the lamp to produce light which is similar in intensity to that of sunrise. 

When you use the lamp each day, the light helps to regulate your circadian rhythms and hormones such as melatonin. This keeps your body and brain activity in balance, which in turn can lift your mood.

How to Use a Light Therapy Lamp

It is generally recommended that you turn on your light therapy lamp first thing in the morning. You only need to keep it on for about 20-30 minutes. It should be located around 16-24 inches from your face. Your eyes should be open, but you should not be staring at it. Instead, you should do something else like eat your breakfast or read the newspaper. 

Some people find that they get the best results if they repeat this twice a day. In some cases, shorter treatment periods may be more effective, while in others, exposure for up to several hours may be needed. 

Are Light Therapy Lamps Safe For Everyone?

Generally speaking, most people can safely use light therapy lamps with no or minimal side effects. There are however a couple of exceptions:

•Those who experience mania (as in bipolar disorder).
•Patients with eye problems (in the past or in the present).

If you fit under either bracket, you may still be able to use light therapy, but you are advised to talk to your doctor first. You might need to observe special precautions.

It is also worth mentioning that a small percentage of patients do have side effects at the start of treatment, which may include nausea, headaches, or eye irritation. Usually this phase passes within several days after which the side effects go away. Some people also may feel jittery and overactive. 

Types of Light Therapy Lamps

There are a few different types of light therapy lamps you can buy to treat seasonal affective disorder:

•Dawn simulators. These lamps simulate sunrise by starting out very dim and then gradually brightening over a span of time which could range between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the settings you select. 

•Light boxes. These are the most common types of SAD lights, and the ones which have received the most extensive clinical testing. They look like flat screens. Most commonly, they produce 10,000 lux of full spectrum light (which is what you typically need to treat most SAD).

•Natural spectrum light bulbs. Light boxes tend to be unwieldy, and they can also be pricey. For a less expensive option which is small, portable, and which can be hooked up to an existing light fixture, you can consider a natural spectrum light bulb. These are not as consistently backed by science as light boxes, but they may suffice for your needs.

•Sun visors or glasses. This is a wearable form of full spectrum light technology. 

You will probably want to buy a light box since this is the form of light therapy which researchers are most confident in and most highly recommend. But you can consider the alternatives if you think you would stand to benefit more from a dawn simulator, or if a natural spectrum bulb or a pair of light glasses might be more convenient for you.

Important Features to Shop for in a Light Therapy Lamp

Whatever type of SAD lamp you decide to invest in, here are some important features to look for.

•The right amount of light (10,000 lux for most patients). If you get a dimmer light, you will have to use it for longer every day. A lot of patients do use brighter lights. 
•Minimal UV light. So long as you steer clear of lights for treating skin problems, you should be good here. But you should do some research on the brand and device you are thinking of purchasing, and find out exactly how much UV light it emits. 
•Eye protection features. This largely goes back to filtering out UV light again. But you can also look for lights which are glare-free. 
•Portability, convenience, etc. How important this is will depend on your home setup and where and how you plan to use the light. If you want to use the light in different rooms or take it with you to the office or on a trip, obviously you want a compact, lightweight light. Otherwise, it may not matter much.

Note: Exposure to UV light is what enables our bodies to produce vitamin D. So while SAD lights can help adjust your hormone production and your circadian rhythms, they cannot compensate for low levels of vitamin D. This is something a lot of first-time buyers do not realize. So you should take vitamin D supplements along with light therapy to get the best results.

Top Light Therapy Lamps

Now you know more about light therapy lamps and what features are important, and you are familiar with the different types. Let’s check out some of the top models on the market right now.

Are you curious which is the very best light therapy lamp for SAD? Read below.

Dawn Simulators

#1 Wake Up Light Sunrise Digital Alarm Clock

Wake Up Light Sunrise Digital Alarm Clock

This is a very popular and highly rated light therapy lamp with more than 600 reviews online as of the time of this writing.  While it can be expensive, if you find it on sale, you can snag it at a great price.  It doubles as a digital alarm clock.

Features:

  • FM radio and 6 natural sounds.
  • Snooze mode.
  • Simulates the rising and setting of the sun.
  • Choose from any of six different colors with adjustable brightness to illuminate your room with mood lighting.
  • 5V USB port power source.
  • Stylish appearance with simple controls.

Positives

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    This is so much more than just a dawn simulator. It provides you with an array of other functions. This makes it an amazing value even at full price.
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    Buyers say that the gradual light increase is very pleasant and invigorating, and does a great job waking them up.
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    Customers seem to be especially fond of the mood light colors as well as the sunset feature.

Negatives

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    The materials used in the lamp’s construction are on the cheap side.
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    It is unclear from the product description whether this is actually full spectrum light or not.

Overall Assessment

What the Wake Up Light Sunrise Digital Alarm Clock is Best For

Consider this lamp if you do not necessarily need full spectrum light, but simply need a simulation of sunrise and sunset to correct your sleep cycles. Sometimes that is all it takes to balance out your mood and function at your best.

#2 Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock

Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock

Another dawn simulator to consider is the Philips Wake-Up Light.  This one isn’t as highly rated as the one above, but it still has a solid rating overall, and more than 3,300 reviews.  It is significantly more expensive, however.

Features:

  • Simulates sunrise and sunset. Light increases over a 20-40 minute period.
  • 5 wake-up sounds and FM radio.
  • Snooze feature.
  • 10 brightness settings.
  • UV-free.
  • Runs cool (not a heat hazard).


Positives

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    This is an all-in-one device which serves as both an alarm clock and a wake-up light, so it is a solid value.
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    Customers like both the gradual increase in light in the morning and the pleasant sounds.

Negatives

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    There are some usability issues, particularly involving the buttons, which are hard to see when the light is on.
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    No one seems entirely sure if this is full spectrum light.

Overall Assessment

What the Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock is Best For

Consider this light if you are looking for a dawn simulator which double as an alarm clock and which includes all the functionality you need to wake up in comfort.

Light Boxes

#3 NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light 

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light

This light box is incredibly popular, with more than 3,000 customer reviews online and a very high rating.  You can purchase it in the low to mid price range. 

Features:

  • 10,000 lux.
  • Negative ion therapy (this feature is optional and can be switched on or off).
  • This product has received recommendations from the Columbia Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatry Institute.
  • UV-free

Positives

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    This is a reasonably low-cost option in the category of light boxes.
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    The vast majority of buyers say that the product helped to alleviate their SAD.

Negatives

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    The ionizer is unnecessary (and unhealthy, if you run it). Thankfully, you do not need to use it. So just ignore it.

Overall Assessment


What the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light is Best For

If you do not want to spend an arm and a leg on a light box, this model will serve your needs.  You can buy it confidently, knowing that thousands of other buyers have been satisfied with it.

#4 Verilux HappyLight Liberty Light Therapy Energy Lamp

Verilux HappyLight Liberty Light Therapy Energy Lamp

A more expensive light box which is worth considering is the Verilux HappyLight.  This one is just as highly rated as the one above, and has more than 500 customer reviews.

Features:

  • 10,000 lux
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Low and high settings for light
  • No glare lenses included


Positives

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    This small profile of this light means you can move it around with ease and set it up even in a small space.
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    Customers report that this light is effective in stabilizing mood and energy levels throughout the day.

Negatives

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    There may be some quality control issues. A few buyers said their light didn’t turn on, but thankfully they were in a very small minority.

Overall Assessment

What the Verilux HappyLight Liberty Light Therapy Energy Lamp is Best For

If you are looking for a compact light box which you can set even on a small table, the Verilux HappyLight fits the bill.

#5 Verilux HappyLight Liberty Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp

Verilux HappyLight Liberty Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp

If you like the Verilux HappyLight Energy lamp above, you may be interested in this variation.  It is the same brand, but an even smaller model which is also less expensive. More than 700 buyers have rated it highly.

Features:

  • Weighs only 1.5 pounds
  • Compact design—bring it with you anywhere
  • 5,000 lux
  • UV-filtered

Positives

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    This is an inexpensive model of light therapy lamp.
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    It is compact enough that you can pack it up in a briefcase or backpack.
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    The light is fairly powerful despite its small size.
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    The sleek, unobtrusive design is ideal for workplaces such as offices or classrooms. Larger lights may elicit more complaints from co-workers or bosses.

Negatives

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    You don’t get a full 10,000 lux.
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    There may be some problems with quality control, but these seem to only affect a small minority

Overall Assessment


What the Verilux HappyLight Liberty Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp is Best For

Think about buying this as a supplemental lamp to use at your workplace.  For home, a 10,000 lux model is probably better for most users, but for mild cases, this may be the only light therapy lamp you need.

#6 Carex Health Brands Day-Light

Carex Health Brands Day-Light

This lamp has more than 600 customer reviews.  It is highly rated, and while it is pricier than some other models in this list, it offers additional functionality in the form of a stand.

Features:

  • 10,000 lux
  • Diffusion screen to eliminate glare
  • Adjustable stand
  • Blocks 99.3% of UV light
  • Projects light downward (this can make light therapy more effective)

Positives

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    You can adjust this light to the height and angle you need for optimum comfort and effectiveness.
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    Customers report that this is a very effective lamp and that their symptoms are greatly alleviated using it.

Negatives

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    This model definitely is on the unwieldy side. It isn’t particularly portable, and it is far from compact.

Overall Assessment

What the Carex Health Brands Day-Light is Best For

Buy this for home use if you plan to position the light in one location and not move it a whole lot (or at all). 

#7 Bright Light Therapy Box: Alaska Northern Lights 

Bright Light Therapy Box Alaska Northern Lights

Finally, here is a high end option.  While this is a far more expensive model than the others in this list, it has been highly rated by dozens of customers.

Features:

  • 10,000 lux
  • Comes with a convenient carrying handle
  • No UV or blue light
  • Designed to run quietly
  • Includes a 7-year manufacturer’s warranty and 60-day satisfaction guarantee


Positives

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    The large surface area of this light means you can set it farther away from you.
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    This light is surprisingly lightweight and easy to move despite its size.
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    Buyers who did need to call on the warranty say that the customer service was great.

Negatives

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    The main drawback with this light is its high price tag.

Overall Assessment

What the Bright Light Therapy Box: Alaska Northern Lights is Best For

If you can afford to swing the extra cost, this is a great unit to purchase for home, especially if you find it uncomfortable to sit really close to smaller light boxes. The reviews make it clear that this is a high-quality lamp worth the added expense.

Natural Spectrum Light Bulbs

#8 Verilux CFML27VLX Natural Spectrum Replacement Bulb

Verilux CFML27VLX Natural Spectrum Replacement Bulb

These are Verilux replacement light bulbs.  They are included in this list because we have recommended several Verilux products, and the replacement lights can be hard to find.

Features:

  • 10,000 hours of life
  • 27-watt bulb which produces 150 watts of brightness
  • Full spectrum light from earth phosphors
  • Fits not only Verilux lights, but a few other brands as well

Positives

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    Fits Verilux desk lamps and a few other types of lights.
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    Provides bright full spectrum light which doesn’t hurt your eyes.

Negatives

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    A few buyers said their bulbs burned out quickly, but this is a rare complaint.

Overall Assessment

What the Verilux CFML27VLX Natural Spectrum Replacement Bulb is Best For

Use these bulbs with Verilux lights or any other compatible lamps.  A lot of reviewers mentioned employing them not just for light therapy, but also for improved reading light.

#9 ALZO 27W Full Spectrum CFL Light Bulb 5500K 

ALZO 27W Full Spectrum CFL Light Bulb 5500K

This is an all-purpose full spectrum light bulb which you can buy.  Even though it may be too large for standard household lamps, you should find that it can fit a wide range of fixtures.  More than 600 buyers online have given it solid ratings and reviews.

Features:

  • 5500K color temperature (natural daylight)
  • Energy-efficient
  • Low heat
  • 10,000-hour life if you install it with adequate ventilation

Positives

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    This is an inexpensive alternative to pricier light boxes.
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    Unlike the Verilux bulbs above, these are not designed for any one specific type of lamp. They are meant to be used with a variety of different lamps.
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    The bright, clear light from these bulbs can help alleviate depression while also serving as a great source of illumination for reading, crafts, etc.

Negatives

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    These cannot be installed in all fixtures, and are not meant to go in closed lamps without circulation.

Overall Assessment

What the ALZO 27W Full Spectrum CFL Light Bulb 5500K is Best For

If you are looking for a simple, low-cost full-spectrum light source, these bulbs will do the trick. Just make sure you have a compatible lamp. 

Light Therapy Glasses

#10 Luminette 2 SAD Bright Light Therapy Glasses

Luminette 2 SAD Bright Light Therapy Glasses

This is a kind of wearable visor which projects full spectrum light down into your eyes as you go about your business.

Features:

  • You can wear this product even with glasses or contact lenses
  • Three levels of intensity available: 500, 1000, and 1500 lux (you do not need a full 10,000 lux this close to your eyes)
  • Micro-USB charger
  • Meets European photobiological safety standard IEC 62471

Positives

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    This device is the ultimate in lightweight portability.
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    You can use Luminette while you are making breakfast, out on your morning walk, and so on.
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    The light levels are adjustable and the battery life is great.
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    A number of purchasers were pleasantly amused by the futuristic “sci-fi” appearance of the glasses, and had fun wearing them.

Negatives

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    Some customers said the nose bridge isn’t very comfortable.
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    You cannot wear these in a dark room if you are moving around; the bright light will prevent you from seeing anything around you.

Overall Assessment

What the Luminette 2 SAD Bright Light Therapy Glasses is Best For

If you rush to get ready for work in the morning and do not have 20-40 minutes to sit down in front of a light box, these glasses allow you to go about your routine while still enjoying the benefits of light therapy for SAD. You can also bring them with you when you are traveling. 

Conclusion: With the Right Light Therapy Lamp, You Can Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Whatever your price range and whatever exposure you need each day to maintain your mood, there are quite a few popular and highly rated light therapy lamps out there which should fit your needs.  You now have a great starting point at narrowing it down and choosing the right lamp for you.  So say goodbye to the winter blues and get back to feeling like yourself!

Reviews & Comparisons of The Best Light Therapy Lamps

Rankings

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2nd choice

3rd choice

4th choice

5th choice

6th choice

7th choice

Best Light Therapy Lamps

Verilux HappyLight Liberty Light Therapy Energy Lamp
Wake Up Light Sunrise Digital Alarm Clock
Carex Health Brands Day-Light
Verilux HappyLight Liberty Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp
Luminette 2 SAD Bright Light Therapy Glasses
NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light
Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock

Brand

Verilux

Ossola

Carex

Verilux

Luminette 2

NatureBright

Philips

Specs

Safe, natural spectrum light therapy in a compact size.
Provides 10,000 Lux, UV blocked
Customize high or low settings
Broad surface area emits more light
Improve your mood and reset your circadian rhythm to improve sleep.

LED time display: 12 hours or 24 hours format
Output: 5V DC
Input: 100-240V AC
Radio frequency: 88-108 MHz

Clinical product for mild to severe symptoms
10,000 LUX of glare-free white light
99.3% UV blocked for eye safety
Height and angle adjustable
3 x 36 watt CFL light tubes, 2 light settings
Color temperature 4000K / 85 CRI
Easy bulb changes
Single pedestal stand
Meets expert criteria for bright light therapy

Provides safe, comfortable natural spectrum light therapy in a compact solution.
5,000 Lux moderate UV filtered output for extended daily use.
Compact
Durable, long lasting, and safety tested to the highest standards of compliance.
Verilux is the originator of the HappyLight.

Light therapy on-the-go patented lighting system equivalent to a 10,000 lux lamp long autonomy safe and certified


Improves mood, energy, and sleep
Recommended for winter blues
Re-syncs your body's internal clock
Emits healing 17,000-Kelvin UV-free light
Built-in timer
For home and office use

Easier to get up in the morning with colored sunrise simulation
No replacement light bulb needed
Cool to touch - Safe for children
Simply plug and go - no assembly required
Large, easy to read LED display
FM radio and tap snooze function
Pleasant, natural bird song alarm
Sleek, modern design

Warranty

1 yr

1 yr

5 yrs

1 yr

3 yrs

1 yr

2 yrs

Weight

2 lbs

1 lbs

9.4 lbs

1.5 lbs

2.2 Oz

4 lbs

3.8 lbs

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