SAD lamps have become somewhat à la mode recently. The trend can, at least in part, be attributed to the pandemic, which has put a halt to holiday plans and cut our sun exposure down to a minimum, thus leading people to seek less conventional ways to get some light.
But what exactly are SAD lamps? And are they actually worth the hype?
Put simply, a SAD lamp simulates the brightness of our natural daylight, which then sends signals to the brain that are believed to positively affect our chemical and hormone levels. Light encourages the brain to increase mood-boosting serotonin production and reduce levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, thereby improving our mood.
SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a condition that comes and goes with the seasons (hence the name). It manifests in feelings of lethargy, anxiety and persistent low mood over the darker winter months due to a lack of sunlight.
According to research commissioned by The Weather Channel and YouGov, 29 per cent of adults experience SAD symptoms, and women are 40 per cent more likely than men to experience it. Symptoms vary from very mild to severe so you may be suffering without even realising.
If this all sounds rather familiar, do not fear! SAD lamps are here offering an easy and fuss-free solution to those low moods, without the need for invasive treatments.
Most brands recommend sitting with the lamp for around 30 minutes to an hour each morning to really feel the benefits and the NHS has reported that people begin feeling a difference in as little as a week.
Surely you don’t need any more convincing? Get light on it and pick up an SAD lamp from among our top picks.
Lumie Desklamp SAD light
For those who are a little more limited on space, or are just looking for a good-quality lamp for a table, why not opt for Lumie’s Desklamp, which gives out good vibes as well as light?
I really love this lamp because as well as the four different brightness levels, it has a really clever feature in the removable diffuser which can be used when you just need that little extra burst of energy. It is also flexible so you can adjust it to your requirements.
Another great fact about Lumie is that the company goes above and beyond to ensure that all of their lights are top of the range by making them pass several safety tests, which is why they carry the credential of a medical device certification.
Beurer TL30UK SAD lamp
This slim, lightweight lamp is similar in size to a Kindle, meaning you can slip it easily into a bag and bring it out when needed for a little pocket of sunshine. (It also comes with a handy cover to protect it while travelling).
The detachable stand and discreet size means it sits neatly on a desk with very little obstruction and, apart from the happy side effects that will ensue, you’ll barely notice it’s there.
Not only that, but the single power button is extremely easy to use, making this the lamp of choice for any technophobes. As an added bonus, it’s also energy-saving thanks to the LED technology.
With 10 dimming states and four timer settings, Lifemax’s portable LifeLight is a great all-rounder lamp that is also affordable in price.
The lamp itself is very aesthetically pleasing, with a circular front that almost looks like a mirror, and so will fit in in any setting. It’s also relatively small in size so can sit on a larger desk without being too obtrusive.
One of the best features of the LifeLight is the numerous dimming modes, which can be easily moved through using the three simple buttons at the top until you find the right setting for you.
For those who are sensitive to light or want a little bit more flexibility than just the common three brightness settings of other SAD lamps, Lifemax is the brand for you.
Dyson Lightcycle Morph Light
Yes, that’s right. Dyson has joined the battle of the SAD lamps - and it’s giving the others some hot competition (it’s already award-winning). Its new Lightcycle Morph light sits on your desk or on your floor, depending on which size you choose, and intelligently tracks your movements around the room. It adapts to your local daylight to give you the conditions you need to keep your mood-boosting light levels topped up throughout the day - just input your age and location on the app and it’ll give you the right light for you, your task and the time of day.
For lamp nerds, it’s one of the most versatile yet (and features the same satisfying seamlessness Dyson users have come to expect from its products). You can rotate the optical head for soft background lighting, leave the head closed so you just get a comforting orange glow through the perforated stem, or use it as a desk lamp when you want focused, powerful light to reduce eye strain.
It also works as a sunrise alarm clock - just set the time you want to wake up and it’ll flood the room with daylight so you wake up more naturally. Don’t worry about putting it next to your bed - if you’d rather keep it on your desk it’ll still work wonders and wake you up in the morning. The light is so powerful it fills the whole room. - Katie Strick
Lumie Brazil Large SAD Light Therapy
If you’ve already done a bit of research around SAD lamps and their benefits, chances are you would have come across Lumie. The Cambridge-based company is one of the forerunners for SAD lamp manufacturing in Europe, with almost 30 years of research under their belt.
The Brazil is the biggest of their range and, providing 10,000 lux at 35cm, is made especially with those who are suffering more severe symptoms in mind. At 50cm tall, it works best sat on the floor or a extensive surface so is great for those who have ample room to spare. That said, it does have a handle on top so can be transported around if necessary.
The large size also means that you can sit a little further away from it and still feel the benefits, so for anyone who wants to get on with life at the same time as getting a little boost, this is the one for you.
After all, the bigger the better, right?
Coulax Wake Up Alarm Clock
For those who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, especially in the winter (that’s all of us, right?), Coulax has got you covered.
If the funky wood grain design wasn’t enough to turn your head, maybe the multitude of settings will. For a start, you know that horrible feeling of getting blasted awake by your alarm? With Coulax, that is a thing of the past as the sunrise simulation gradually increases in brightness in a pre-selected 10-60 minutes to gently rouse you from slumber.
The clock can be set with up to two alarm times, with a choice of seven accompanying sounds (including ocean and wind bell) to ensure you wake up in the calmest frame of mind. And that’s not all, the alarm clock also doubles up as an FM radio, all for a very reasonable price. I feel a lightbulb moment coming on!
Mlife Portable Light Therapy Light
Another perfect gadget for those who are short on space, Mlife’s therapy light is about the size of a tablet, making it the perfect thing to take on the go.
It has three light settings to suit your needs and also includes a timer setting so you know exactly how much goodness you’re getting.
But the best part about this light has to be the remote control, which allows you easily to switch through the colour temperature and brightness and is perfect for those who don’t like fiddling around with buttons on the device. If you later decide you don’t want to carry around the remote, you can also use the buttons on the side.
Redstone SAD light box
At 48cm tall, this light box is a little larger than the slim models out there but would be perfect sat on a desk while WFH thanks to the foldable stand or if you have limited space, it can also be mounted on a wall.
It is very user-friendly, with a simple on-off switch – it really couldn’t get simpler than that.
The light box offers the standard 10,000 lux, which is about the same as a normal sunny day (for reference, regular light in a room inside a building only has about 500 lux), so you can see why we start to suffer symptoms of SAD in winter.
Ocushield All Day, All Night lamp
While Ocushield’s All Day, All Night lamp may not be strictly speaking a SAD lamp, their cleverly designed lights do the same thing in that they are made with mood enhancing in mind.
Ocushield know the havoc that blue light (which is especially common in digital devices) can wreak on our bodies – messing with our internal clock and melatonin levels – so they set about making a product with a difference.
The compact lamp is very portable will sit neatly on any surface without – wait for it – wires. That’s right, this nifty device is completely wire-free. It has three light levels – cool white, neutral white and warm white – that are easily moved between through the touchscreen at the base, along with light intensity. Unlike many other lamps, the All Day, All Night lamp emits only low levels of blue light, even on the brightest setting, ensuring that your body is better tuned into itself.
With a flexible base that can be adjusted to the position you need and battery charging for around 20 hours of light, which can be recharged with the micro USB included, this light is the thing of dreams.
Their products are a little more expensive than the average brand but once you set your eyes on the quality, you’ll see that Lumie is a clear cut above the rest and so worth the investment. In terms of which to go for, they offer six SAD and energy lamps to suit most purposes so it really is a matter of personal preference, but I personally think the Desklamp is a top pick due to its size, adjustable nature and utility.
Honourale mention also goes to Dyson’s Lightcycle Morph that doubles up as a SAD lamp too. The desk lamp edition is the cheaper of the two and the best value for money as it’s still so powerful it’ll light up the whole room.