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These Top-Rated Light Therapy Lamps Help Mimic Sunlight
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Even though the days are getting longer, the benefits of regular light therapy can and should continue. Light therapy has been clinically proven to improve mood and sleep quality, and also relieve the symptoms of jet lag and work shift adjustment. It’s safe, natural, and effective. Even the Mayo Clinic recommends it. And having a personal, portable therapy light is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reap the benefits of this 21st century life remedy.
What are the best therapy lights? The choices are many. Therapy lights come in all shapes and sizes, so deciding which is the right one for you depends on any number of factors. If you work at a desk, a desktop device can provide a simple, unobtrusive way to get that bit of extra light to put a spring in your step. If you live in a far northern locale where the days are short already, a therapy light can be used to replicate the sun’s summer schedule and keep your internal body clock in check, even as the seasons turn and the days shorten.
Therapy lights come in particularly handy if you’re cooped up in an office all day, with little or no access to the outside world for hours at a time. Some are made specifically for bedroom nightstands, and designed to mimic sunlight. These are great for those who sleep in dark bedrooms with few windows to provide natural light. (If you’ve ever lived in a basement apartment in the city, you know exactly what we’re talking about.)
What Exactly Are Therapy Lights?
Therapy lights are consist of a bank of LED bulbs, often numbering in the hundreds or more. The bulbs are mounted to a flat surface and covered with a diffusing lens. Back in the day, therapy lights were huge, intrusive things that looked as sterile as the environments in which they were used—most often, sleep disorder clinics. Not anymore. As the phenomenon has become more mainstream and companies streamline their products to satisfy various users’ particular needs, light therapy has become a booming business.
Even better, as the technology refines itself, the design aspect has followed suit. Therapy lights these days are more compact and far more stylish than ever. Some are designed to look like normal desk lamps; others are shaped like the sun, have internal alarm clocks, and give off an orange-y glow. Still others are designed to blend into your home decor as an accent piece.
We’ve put together list of awesome therapy lights below. No matter which style catches your eye, why you need light therapy, or where you choose to receive it, there’s no denying the benefits. Place your device above your line of sight, where possible, to maximize the light reaching your eyes. You should be facing the lamp with eyes open, but there’s no need to look directly at the light. Over the first few days, assess the effect and, if necessary, lengthen or shorten the session time based on your response.
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Therapeutic 10,000 LUX of comfortable glare-free white light with zero UV for optimal bright light therapy. Height and angle are both adjustable. It has four light settings with 168 LED lights for light therapy or task lighting. It’s 23 percent off right now.
GET IT: Pick up the Theralite Aura ($77; was $100) at Amazon
Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus
This ion + light therapy lamp gets a four-star rating from users—and right now it’s over 40 percent off. The 10,000 LUX glow emits a healing 17,000-Kelvin UV-free light and theion air outlet emits negative ions to bestow a calming effect in the immediate area. It’s got a built-in timer as well, that saves energy when you forget to turn it off.
GET IT: Pick up the Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus ($40; was $70) at Walmart
Carex Day-Light Classic
Some claim this lamp provides the best combination of function and affordability in the entire Therapy Light space, and we certainly can’t argue. It’s unobtrusive and looks great on the desk, and includes a safe, glare-free screen as well as flicker-free bulbs and adjustable stand with flexible angle, so you can project light downward, as recommended by health experts.
GET IT: Pick up the Carex Day-Light Classic ($115) at Amazon
Philips goLITE BLU
Blue Light is clinically proven to increase energy levels, mood, and sleep quality, to help you stay sharp. This model claims to be as effective as a 10,000 LUX white light; just 20-30 minutes a day is all you need. It emits zero UV. Dozens of reviewers swear by its effectivesness in improving mood and energy.
GET IT: Pick up the Philips goLITE BLU ($80) at Walmart
Verilux HappyLight Liberty
Here’s a small, portable option that won’t bust the budget. At 6×7 inches and weighing just 1.5 lbs., it emits 5,000 LUX with moderated UV ouput. And it works—over 1,600 reviewers, and it nets a 4.3-star rating. It comes with a one-year warranty.
GET IT: Pick up the Verilux HappyLight Liberty ($35 with coupon) at Amazon
Aurora LightPad Mini
Its ultra-sleek, ultra-thin design make the Aurora an excellent option. At just 25 inches diameter, it’s portable and easy to travel with, great for home, office, or hotel room. It has a 7-year warranty, adjustable stand, and three levels of 10,000 LUX brightness.
GET IT: Pick up the Aurora Lightpad Mini ($180) at Walmart
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Sun lamps: 5 of the best
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People most commonly use sun lamps to treat a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or to help their body make vitamin D. However, choosing the right sun lamp can be challenging.
Doctors sometimes refer to the use of a sun lamp as “light therapy.” People with SAD are the most likely to use sun lamps, also called light boxes.
SAD is a type of depression that tends to happen in the late fall and winter. Most people who experience it find that it either goes away or is less severe in spring and summer.
People with vitamin D deficiency may also use a sun lamp. Vitamin D helps the nervous system, muscles, and immune system work properly. It also helps the body absorb the calcium that it needs to keep the bones healthy.
Most people will get all of the vitamin D that they need from their diet and the sun. However, individuals who do not get enough exposure to sunlight or have a health condition that stops their body from absorbing the vitamins in their food might develop a vitamin D deficiency. In children, this can lead to rickets. Adults can develop muscle weakness and pain in the bones.
Sometimes, people also use sun lamps to help with sleep disorders or depression.
Keep reading to learn more about how sun lamps work. We also list five examples of products that are available to buy.
Please also note that the writer of this article has not tested these products. All information in this article is research-based, and we do not intend to recommend certain products over others.
How do sun lamps work?
People need exposure to sunlight for many reasons. It affects the body’s natural daily cycles, or circadian rhythms. These govern how people feel, when they go to sleep, and when they wake up.
Sunlight helps the brain make the hormones that the body needs to function. Examples are serotonin, which plays a role in mood, and melatonin, which helps with sleep patterns. The skin also uses sunlight to make vitamin D.
Sun lamps or light boxes work by imitating sunlight. Doctors might recommend, for example, that people with SAD sit by a light box that provides 10,000 lux for 30 minutes a day as soon as possible after waking up.
There is some evidence to support the benefits of light therapy, but scientists are not yet sure whether it works. Also, it is not suitable for everyone. People with light sensitivity, bipolar disorder, diabetes, or eye conditions should avoid it.
Experts advise people who wish to try light therapy to use only sun lamps that emit fluorescent light with no ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. UV light can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
However, for people using a sun lamp to help their skin make vitamin D, UVB light is essential. Anyone considering using a sun lamp should speak to their doctor first.
Five sun lamps
Many different sun lamps are available to buy. The best option for a person will depend on the health issue they wish to address.
Verilux HappyLight Luxe
Verilux sell a range of HappyLight products. These provide full spectrum, UV-free light of 10,000 lux intensity.
Their HappyLight Luxe is portable, and it comes with adjustable color temperatures, timers, and a choice of four different brightness levels.
People who use the product say that it helps improve their mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels.
Purchase the Verilux HappyLight Luxe here.
Aura Day Light Lamp
The Aura Day Light Lamp has an adjustable light output and is UV-free. People can choose to set it anywhere from 3,500 to 10,000 lux, depending on their preference.
A person can mount the lamp on a wall, and it automatically shuts off after use. The manufacturers designed it to boost mood and increase concentration, focus, and energy.
Purchase the Aura Day Light Lamp here.
Philips SmartSleep Light Therapy Lamps
Philips designed their SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up lamps to help people who have difficulty getting to sleep or waking up.
These lamps prepare the body for sleep by simulating the sunset, gradually decreasing the light and sound in the room. In the morning, the lamps do the same in reverse by simulating the sunrise.
People who use these products say that they help them get to sleep and wake up more naturally, allowing them to feel more energetic during the day.
Purchase the Philips SmartSleep range here.
Circadian Optics Lumine Light Therapy Lamp
These lamps are also UV-free. They come in various designs with an intensity of 10,000 lux. The manufacturers designed them to imitate the sun at noon, and people can adjust the brightness through three levels.
Rather than fluorescent bulbs, they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that have a 50,000-hour life. The lamp comes with a 2-year warranty.
Purchase the Circadian Optics Lumine Light Therapy Lamp here.
Sperti Vitamin D Sunlamp
The Sperti Vitamin D Sunlamp provides the UVB rays that the body needs to make vitamin D.
According to the manufacturers, it is the only product of its type that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recognized.
It has an adjustable timer and includes two pairs of UV-blocking glasses to protect the eyes during use. Doctors recommend that people only use it for a few minutes at a time to avoid burning.
Purchase the Sperti Vitamin D Sunlamp here.
Using sun lamps, which work by imitating the sun, may help some people living with SAD, vitamin D deficiency, or sleep issues.
People should be careful when using sun lamps. In most cases, they should look for products that do not use UV light, as this can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
When someone has a vitamin D deficiency, their skin needs UVB light to make the vitamin. However, in most cases, it is better to get vitamin D from food and natural sunlight than to use a sun lamp.
Light therapy will not work for everyone. People with light sensitivities, bipolar disorder, diabetes, or eye problems should avoid using it.
Anyone who is thinking about using a sun lamp, especially those who suspect that they have a vitamin D deficiency, should speak to a doctor first.
The 10 Best Light Therapy Lamps of 2021
Narrowing down the selection, the Verilux HappyLight Lucent (view on Bed, Bath, & Beyond) is the best because it checks all the boxes while staying convenient and affordable. A quick scan of the product's reviews reiterates this point—people are seeing results, even if they were skeptical to begin with.
Circadian Optics’ other product on this list—the Circadian Optics Luxy Light Therapy Lamp (view on Amazon)—is a close runner up if you’re looking for a simple, effective product. It is an easy lamp to incorporate into your life, no matter what your routine looks like. Both of these products bring a level of customer-first thinking to the table, and it shows.
What to Look for in a Light Therapy Lamp
If you prioritize variety, you may be better suited for a pick with multiple settings to choose from. Adjustable dimming and brightness allow for more versatile use, no matter the time of day, location, or season.
If you’re looking for a pick you can easily pack for work or vacation, you’re better off with a thin and rectangular lamp that’s complete with a detachable or convertible stand. Meanwhile, if you already have a permanent spot in mind for a lamp, you may have to factor in details like sturdiness, weight, and shape. Some options are best suited for even surfaces while others require more adjusting to stay at eye level.
While the lux, or measure of light intensity, of light therapy lamps may vary, most typically offer 10,000 lux brightness. Research suggests that indoor lighting generally provides 100 lux while a sunny day is 50,000 lux.
More advanced models may feature multiple brightness settings or sunrise or sunset modes for gradual adjustments to daytime or nighttime. Other notable features to look for include flicker elimination technology, glare control, and non-white light—which are all beneficial if you’re prone to light sensitivity.
You may also have a preference for LED lights over fluorescent bulbs due to their energy efficiency and longer life.
If your lamp doesn’t include a built-in timer, you should manually time each session to prevent potential sunburn and overexposure.
Follow your doctor’s and the lamp manufacturer’s instructions on the recommended frequency and duration of usage. Depending on your specific case and symptoms, this can range from 30 minutes in the morning to 10 minutes in the afternoon, to two hours in the evening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ideal for those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression, and mood disorders, light therapy lamps are especially effective during the fall and winter months due to the shortage of sunlight. While the lamp should be placed at close proximity, about several feet away, you shouldn’t look into the light directly for safety.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s suggested guidelines, from placing the lamp at or above eye level, or limiting your time of exposure based on intensity. It’s typically recommended to use a light therapy lamp for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, in the morning. It’s relatively easy to add one to your routine, whether you’re working at your desk, getting ready in the morning, or streaming your favorite content.
While light therapy can help symptoms, it shouldn’t be relied on as a cure. Results will vary from person to person and can be felt as early as a few days, if using a lamp with a 10,000 lux bulb daily for 30 minutes. It’s recommended to keep track of your usage and make a note of whether or not your symptoms are improving. Like anything else, consistency is key, and it’s best to add light therapy into your routine each day.
Light therapy beginners should direct any questions or concerns to their doctor or therapist and seek out individualized guidance on light frequency and intensity.
Why Trust Verywell Mind?
As a previous fitness coach, long-time wellness enthusiast, and current health editor, Lily Moe understands the importance of products that meet your individual requirements. After moving from sunny Arizona to Brooklyn, New York, Lily experienced seasonal affective disorder firsthand and recognized the value of light therapy lamps. Most importantly, Lily always looks for research and firsthand reviews when it comes to deciding on a product.
Additional reporting by Tori Zhou.
Tori Zhou is a writer and Associate Commerce Editor for Verywell. She enjoys staying up-to-date on wellness trends and products with a focus on holistic health.
Lamp walmart sunlight
3 prominent doctors reveal how effective sun lamps are at alleviating depression in the fall and winter, and which lamps to buy.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and if you struggle with mental health issues like depression, know that you’re not alone. Roughly 5% of the world’s adult population suffers from depression, according to the World Health Organization. And in America alone it is estimated that 10 million people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which the Cleveland Clinic defines as “depression that gets triggered by a change in seasons, usually when fall starts.” So Marketplace looked into the research on sun lamps, which claim to alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD, and asked doctors what they thought of these devices. Here’s what we learned.
Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center, says light therapy is an important treatment to consider because during the fall and winter, the decrease in light can trigger depressive episodes in people with mood illnesses who are sensitive to seasonal change. “Sun lamps replace natural sunlight which declines during the winter months,” says Ghaemi. And a study published in the International Journal on Disability and Human Development revealed that “immediate improvement in mood can be detected after the first session of light with exposures as short as 20 minutes.” What’s more, Dr. Michael Gitlin, professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital, recommends “bright lights that are full frequency and deliver 10,000-lux of light.” (The10,000-lux Carex Daylight Classic, $146 on Walmart, is a sun lamp that Dr. Kirsten Thompson, board certified psychiatrist and founder of Remedy Psychiatry, highlights; you will find more sun lamp recommendations below.)
Of course, sun lamps aren’t a cure-all; you’ll likely need other help as well. “Light therapy can be part of a comprehensive depression treatment plan along with other therapies like medication, talk-therapy and or changes in diet and physical activity,” says Elizabeth Prince, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. And don’t use a sun lamp without consulting with your doctor first. That said, here are some you may want to consider.
Carex Daylight Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp 10,000-lux, $146 on Walmart
“If you’re at the same desk each day, it may be beneficial to invest in a long-lasting, larger sun lamp, which doesn’t need to be used as long and may put less strain on your eyes because of the downward facing light. A high-rated version of such a lamp would be the Carex Daylight Classic Plus,” says Thompson.
“To start, I usually recommend patients use a 10,000-lux light box for 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Over time, we may gradually increase this up to 30 minutes. Keeping it next to the coffee maker or on the breakfast table can help incorporate it into their existing morning routine,” says Price.
Learn more: Carex Daylight Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp 10,000-lux, $146 on Walmart
Northern Light Technologies Boxelite, $183.83 on Amazon
Wirecutter calls this out as a great streamlined lightbox with an unobtrusive design and warm hue. Measuring 15” by 12”, it provides UV-free light.
Learn more: Northern Light Technologies Boxelite, $183.83 on Amazon
Happy Light Luxe by Verilux, $69.99 on Amazon
CNN Underscored says this is the best overall light therapy lamp because it’s sleek, slim, packable and stable. The temperature color is adjustable, the stand is detachable and a timer keeps track of how long you’re using it.
Learn more:Happy Light Luxe by Verilux, $69.99 on Amazon
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