Best SAD lamps for light therapy treatment

Bianca Barratt

From the 22nd of June onwards, it’s just a long, slow march back into the depths of winter where mornings are spent running from bed to shower in a bid to keep warm and evenings are spent fumbling around in the dark for your keys and eating mashed potato.

Of course, there are many great things about winter but the lack of light and warmth is certainly not one of them. In fact, for many of us, it can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how do I know if I have it?

Aside from having an amusingly accurate acronym, SAD can have a huge impact on our health. In fact, according to a 2014 report from The Weather Channel and YouGov, 29 per cent of the UK population suffers from SAD and a huge 66 per cent of adults feel that their mood worsens as the weather does.

SAD can manifest in many different ways, from lethargy and anxiety to loss of libido and trouble sleeping, meaning your constant craving for carbs and despondent mood could be bigger than the fact that you miss summer. Finding ways to combat it is key to your mental and physical health through the winter.

What is a SAD Lamp?

One of the best options for this is to invest in a SAD lamp – a lamp specifically designed to target the symptoms of SAD. They work by shining a cool, bright light that you sit in front of. This light hits your retinas (the lining at the back of your eyes) and sends signals to the brain to shift your hormone levels and trigger the release of Serotonin – the happy hormone. Sunlight also exposes us to UV rays that convert to Vitamin D, which is necessary for healthy skin and bones and can help prevent certain types of cancer.

How do SAD lamps work?

SAD lamps provide the ‘sun’ light we’re missing in the winter, tricking our bodies into producing the aforementioned hormones and vitamins we need to stay healthy. The light intensity of SAD lamps is measured in lux and to notice the effects of using one you should aim for a lamp that has at least 2,500lx.

How do I use them?

Each SAD lamp will vary in function and strength, which will determine how close you should be sitting and how long you should use it for, but most recommend use for at least an hour a day and it’s necessary to keep your eyes open during operation to get the effects you’re after. Many people choose to keep them on their desk or sit next them whilst reading or watching TV.

Which one should I choose?

Which option you go for will depend on your criteria. If you travel a lot and are looking for something portable, you’ll need to consider the size, shape and weight of the model and possibly opt for a travel-specific one. As mentioned above, ensure you choose a model that has at least 2,500lx but preferably closer to 10,000 and read the instructions carefully to ensure you use it correctly (for example, that you’re sitting the correct distance away and are using it for the recommended length of time). It’s also important to ensure that the light is medically certified.

Beurer 2 in 1 Daylight and Mood Lamp

This is a multifunctional model capable of waking you up, sending you to sleep and boosting your mood. Simply hook it up to the partnered app and you can choose from over 250 colour options (red simulates the sunset and is great for helping you drift off) and set a timer for it to act as an alarm clock.

Thanks to its use of an LED light, this lamp works to save more energy than other models whilst still outputting a powerful 10,000lx to help you combat your SAD. What we love about this one is its sleek design – it looks more like a vanity mirror than a functional lamp – so you can display it in your home without it sticking out like a sore thumb.

£149.87 | Amazon | Buy it now

Lumie Brightspark SAD Light Box

Lumie is probably the most well-known brand on the list and has been making light therapy lamps for over 25 years. The Brightspark is a great option for keeping on your desk at work, as it’s small enough to not take up too much space but powerful enough to target the dreaded afternoon slump. Featuring 10,000lx, it’s best used from a distance of 20cm (so at arm’s length) for between 60 and 90 minutes. One of its niftier features is the integrated handle that makes it easy to reposition and carry around.

£138 | John Lewis | Buy it now

Redstone SAD Light Box

With 10,000lx, you need to be no more than 20 cm away from the Redstone Light Box, making it a great option to keep beside your computer or use as a reading lamp. Standing at a height of 27cm, it’s large enough to bathe your whole face in light and the stand on the back is handy for positioning it where you’d like.

The best feature of this option is its frosted finish, which gives the light a warm, muted glow whilst still being just as effective as brighter models. It also features a simple on/off switch that even the greatest of technophobes can master.

£49.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Philips Intense Blue Energy Light

Though small, this blue energy light certainly packs a punch. The use of blue, rather than white, light is more energy efficient – the 200lx power of this lamp is equivalent to 10,000lx of white light. Thanks to its compact size, it makes a great travel companion and easily slots into your bag, allowing you to take it to and from work with ease. It works quickly too – just 20 to 30 minutes a day of face time will give you the energy boost and vitamin top up you need to function healthily.

£150 | Amazon | Buy it now

BM 10,000 Lux Lamp

Cheaper models don’t often deliver the best results, but with the BM Lux Lamp, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Backing in 10,000 lx, it’s a powerful little tool that’ll get you through the long winter. You can choose from either blue or white light and adjust both the speed and the time via the controls and interface on the front. Shaped like a tablet, it’s super convenient for travel and is also rechargeable, meaning you don’t have to work near a plug every time you want to use it. The detachable stand is also adjustable, so you can angle it perfectly, and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee – a fantastic option for those on a tighter budget.

£55.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Sad Lightbox Co Diamond 5

Thanks to the size of this option (it’s 61cm tall) it’s not one that you’ll likely be carting around and it’s certainly one of the most expensive. What you’re paying for, though, is its power – you can turn it on to full capacity for just 20 minutes a day from a distance of 55 centimetres. For a less dazzling and slower effect, it has five strength options, allowing you to adjust the intensity to your preference.

£243 | Amazon | Buy it now

Duronic Tablet SADT2

The Duronic offers a smaller, portable option that looks and feels like a tablet, taking up minimal space and weight in your luggage. With 10,000lx, it’s certainly bright and to get the best effects you’ll need to use it for between 30 and 60 minutes each day. It’s only downside is the distance at which it’s most effective – you’ll need to be sitting no more than 15 cm away, meaning it’s out of the question for working or watching TV. For a travel option, though, it ticks all the boxes – light, portable and convenient to use.

£49.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Lumie Brazil

Another from Lumie – the Brazil is one of the larger options that looks more like an oversized air freshener than anything else. This is a great option for those who suffer acutely with SAD symptoms thanks to its power and broad spectrum light. Working with 10,000lx at 35 centimetres, it’s a cheaper option than the Diamond but delivers a similar effect.

£178.80 | Amazon | Buy it now

Verdict:

The all-singing-all-dancing option has to be the Beurer 2 in 1, which delivers effective relief in an intuitive and convenient way. We love the added timer and colour options, which allow you to tailor the light to your specific needs meaning you’re more likely to continue using it. The best budget option is, by far, the BM 10,000 Lux Lamp, which packs a lot of punch for its size and price tag.