How to Choose the Right Light Box (or Bulb) for You

seasonal affective disorder lights
Bauer Media

If you’re one of the projected half a million Americans who suffer from weather-related depression each winter, seasonal affective disorder lights may be beneficial to you. Biologists believe the reason some of us experience these mood slumps is that human bodies adapted to changes in the seasons years ago, but now everyone is not able to adjust to the go-go-go that’s essential to continuing with our busy lives even when the temps drop. “Now if people want to sleep a lot and do nothing in the winter, society condemns it—which in my view may lead to guilt and depression,” says Charmane Eastman, PhD, director of the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The good thing is that exposure to light—with bulbs reaching up to 10,000 lux total in intensity—tends to mimic the natural sunlight you would get in sunnier seasons. A study of 96 patients with winter SAD found that the group that used high-intensity light for around an hour and half in the morning reported largely decreased symptoms overall. These helpful “rays” often come from light boxes, flat screens that look like lit-up vanity mirrors that can be placed on your desk. There’s also a floor-lamp version, as well as hands-free light-therapy goggles. And if you’re looking for something a little stronger, opt for a lightbox with blue-wave technology—or blue light—which studies have shown limits the amount of melatonin your body produces, therefore reducing your sleepiness.

The most important thing to remember is that you should consult with your doctor before using any of these lights to make sure they won’t react with any health conditions you may have. And once you get the go-ahead, be sure to check out the nine top-rated seasonal affective disorder lights on the market right now. Click through, and see which option best suits your needs.

Verilux HappyLight Liberty 10,000 LUX Light Therapy Energy Lamp $100

We’re obsessed with this lamp’s versatility—it’s half the size of other models and can be mounted on the wall.

Philips GoLite Blu Energy Light $99

This handheld take is the cutest we’ve seen out there. Plus it gives off blue light, which is believed to give you extra energy.

Northern Light Technology Boxelite 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Light Box $190

No more hovering to get closer: This therapy light lets you sit 14 inches away without rendering it any less effective.

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp $57

By far the most affordable of the bunch, this lightbox also doubles as an aromatherapy diffuser for added calm.

Luminette 2 SAD Bright Light Therapy Glasses $150

These goggles are best suited to active individuals who don’t have 30-plus minutes to sit in front of a lamp each day. 

Northern Light Technology Flamingo 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Floor Lamp $230

Lacking table space? Then this four-foot standing lamp that’s gentle on the eyes is essential. 

Verilux HappyLight Deluxe 10,000 LUX Sunshine Simulator $160

The brand claims this is its strongest lamp, so try it if you’re short on time. (The more powerful the light, the less you need to use it.)

Carex Day-Light Sky Bright Light Therapy Lamp $133

Finally, here comes a model that melds a large screen with a small base (plus, we’ve heard Carex’s customer service is superb).

Aura Day Light Therapy Lamp $104

From light settings (3500 to 10,000 lux) and angles (70 to 85 degrees), this therapy lamp is about the custom treatment.

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