10 best SAD lamps
Ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder with a light therapy lamp
One in 15 people in the UK is said to have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The condition is a form of depression, triggered by long nights and short days, and sufferers struggle with low mood, lethargy, restless sleep and loss of libido.
Thankfully, light therapy through devices that make up for the shortage of daylight can help. Light boxes for SAD produce light that mimics natural outdoor light rather than artificial light.
Stephanie Romiszewski, expert sleep physiologist at The Sleepyhead Clinic, which helps people with sleep problems, explains: “Light reduces melatonin levels (a hormone that helps us sleep), so used in the right way, it can reinforce alertness, improve mood and give us energy.”
Your light box should be medically certified to treat SAD and, to be fully effective, if must emit a minimum of 2,500 lux – although 10,000 lux is ideal.
Blue light treatment can work even better, according to some research, so check the settings and choices on your device.
We tested a variety of light boxes, taking account of their design and effectiveness.
Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300: £125, Amazon
This device is straight off the production line – it came out in September.
We were dazzled by its range of features – all 300 of them – including a “sunrise” of between 15 and 90 minutes, sunrise and sunset colours, and 14 sleep and wake sounds, including white noise. The dome shape diffuses light all the way round.
Most importantly, Lumie lamps have been scientifically tested, and are recommended by Sada, the UK charity for SAD. They are also sometimes supplied to the NHS.
We found this lamp easy to use and can imagine wanting to use it throughout winter.
Lumie Zest – Combination Wake-up Light and SAD Light Therapy: £127.27, Amazon
Power: 2,000 lux
This compact, portable devices offers five light levels. It also has a wake-up feature, with a 15 or 30 minute “sunrise”. It comes with a three-year warranty.
Homni Smart Lamp Sleep and Wake Up Aid with Dot Sensor: £199, John Lewis
We enjoyed trying out the “cardiac coherence programme” offered by this device. It’s a fancy name for an idea to control your breathing – you are encouraged to breathe along to the rhythm provided by the light to help you drift off.
A soft blue light, together with 18 sounds, are provided for your wake-up call.
Connect this lamp to your phone or tablet (Android or iOS) and this device can analyse the temperature, humidity, sound levels and brightness of your bedroom, and monitor the quality of your sleep through its Wellness Coach App.
We also liked the Bluetooth stereo speakers, which allow you to listen to music, too.
It also offers 16 million colours for your bedroom lighting. We are still counting those.
Lumie Vitamin L Energy Light: £90, Amazon
Power: 10,000 lux
We loved this slimline product for its simplicity.
It’s energy efficient, UV-free and offers a rippled diffuser for softer light.
It has a stand that allows for portrait and landscape positions and comes with a three-year warranty.
Sad Light Co Diamond 5 – SAD Light Box: £246, Amazon
Power: 10,000 lux
This lamp is pretty chunky at 61cm x 33cm x 10cm, but it’s also powerful. Lots of users say they feel the benefits after just 20 minutes – and we agree.
Litepod SAD Light: £99.45, SAD
Power: 10,000 lux
This lamp is ultra-cute at 38cm x 12.5cm x 12.5cm, making it especially good for using on a crowded desk (yes, that would be us). It provides treatment in 45 minutes to one hour. It comes with a product warranty of three years and a bulb warranty of a year.
Lumie Desklamp: £116, Amazon
We liked the touch-control light levels on this lamp, as well as the adjustable neck for reading.
The LED bulb, meanwhile, is enriched with extra blue light, which helps regulate your body clock.
The recommended treatment time with soft light is an hour. Or use the light with a diffuser (included) for 30 minutes.
Betterlife Bright Light Mini SAD Light: £49.99, Lloyds Pharmacy
Power: 10,000 lux
This tiny lamp is just 20cm x 29cm. It uses an energy-saving 45W bulb. It doesn’t flicker as you start it up, which we liked. It comes with a stand and a wall-mounting hook.
Philips EnergyUp Energy Light: £129.99, Amazon
Power: equivalent to 10,000 lux
This device stands out for its intense blue light, which although only 200 lux is said to be equivalent to 10,000 lux of white light.
We liked the blue block of the design, although some of the other lamps on this list are even more minimalist. It’s small – just over 14cm square and only 3.5cm thick – making it easy to carry around. Recommended treatment is 20 to 30 minutes a day.
Beurer WL 75 Wake Up App Controlled Light, White: £199, John Lewis
The circular design of this device really made a statement in our bedroom.
The lamp woke us up with gradually brightening light (you can set the timer up to an hour before you want it to be fully light). We found the reading lamp function especially useful.
We also liked the choice of sound options: a radio alarm, streamed music, six wake-up melodies and four sleep melodies.
You can control this lamp from your phone using an app.
This lamp comes with a three-year guarantee. The LED isn’t replaceable, but it should last up to 20,000 hours.
The Verdict: best SAD lamps
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