Top-Rated Light Therapy Lamps for When You're Stuck Indoors

If you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or just miss the sunshine, try one of the best light therapy lamps and SAD lamps Amazon has to offer.

light therapy or seasonal affective disorder lamps from Amazon, collage

There's no denying that winter's lack of sunlight really sucks. The dreariness of it all can even have clinical repercussions, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a subset of depression that's characterized by the increase of depressive symptoms during the winter months, explains Neeraj Gandotra, M.D., chief medical officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If you feel exhausted 24/7, don't want to see your friends anymore, or lack the motivation to do any of the things that bring you joy, there's a chance that SAD is what's getting you down.

But is waiting for the days to get longer and the sun to get, well, sunnier really the only way to bust out of SAD? Not at all — and there's one tool, called a light therapy lamp, that might provide a quick fix. Here, experts explain how to deal with SAD (or even simple winter blues). Plus, find a round-up of a few of the best SAD lamps Amazon has to offer, according to customer reviews.

How to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD

The good news: Whether you're clinically diagnosed with SAD or just feel like a winter curmudgeon, you can do some easy things to help boost your mood. The first course of treatment in battling the winter blues is to increase exercise, eat healthier, and get some sun, says Dr. Gandotra. "Your body makes natural chemicals (including vitamin D) that fight off depression — and some of those chemicals are generated through exercise and through direct exposure to sunlight," he explains.

ICYDK, exercise has serious mental health benefits year-round: "Exercise is a mood booster and has been scientifically proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Physical activity raises endorphins in the body, which are the brain's feel-good chemicals. Even light exercise throughout the week can be beneficial," Joanne Frederick, L.P.C., a licensed mental health counselor based in Washington, D.C., previously told Shape. And there are a plethora of foods that can play a role in easing anxiety.

If you're already doing all those things — eating well, exercising, and spending time outdoors — or want a quicker fix, another suggestion is to invest in a seasonal affective disorder lamp or a light therapy lamp. "If you've tried your best to exercise and get your vitamin D supplements, light therapy is a more immediate fix," explains Dr. Gandotra. And it seems to work: In one 2009 study published in the International Journal of Disability and Human Development, using a seasonal affective disorder lamp for just 20 minutes a day resulted in significant mood improvement in people with SAD.

The point of a light therapy lamp is that it mimics outdoor light, which is thought to then cause a chemical change in your brain to lift your mood and ease other symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. There are a couple of types of these lamps: a lightbox is one that you turn on/off and use while you're awake, and a dawn initiation lamp slowly lights up before your alarm goes off in the a.m. to help wake your body naturally. Both types mimic the effects of sunlight and can help better your mood, along with helping you transition between seasons.

Also great? Light therapy lamps can not only ease the symptoms of SAD, but can also help to create a better environment for those working from home or stuck indoors — especially if your space lacks large windows or is not drenched in sunlight.

FYI, in order to get the effects, "the lightbox needs to be of sufficient brightness, about 10,000 lux," recommends Dr. Gandotra. Seasonal affective disorder lamps are usually 10 to 20 times brighter than regular light bulbs, according to the American Psychological Association. Luckily, you can snag a pretty good one right on Amazon.

Best Light Therapy Lamps

Although light therapy lamps can seriously help people with SAD, it's clear that everyone can benefit from a little more brightness — whether you're stuck inside during the cold, dark winter months or work from home often. To get started, here are the best light therapy lamps you can buy on Amazon, plus reviews from real users.

01 of 06

Verilux HappyLight Lucent Light Therapy Lamp

Verilux HappyLight Lucent light therapy lamp SAD lamp product photo

This brand specializes in mood-boosting light therapy technology, so it's no surprise that this product is Amazon's Choice for "happy lamp" and has over 5,000 five-star ratings.

"This season I noticed that my energy never lagged and I was still able to hop out of bed even though it was dark," wrote one reviewer. "I use it for about 30 minutes per day while eating an early breakfast and it keeps me going all day! I cannot say enough good things about this light," they continued.

"Using it for about half an hour each morning while checking my emails and having my morning coffee has made a huge difference in my mood," said another fan. "The lack of sun during this extremely long winter had me feeling down and unmotivated. It's amazing how bright this small light is and I love that it is portable; very easy to pack and take to the office," they noted.

02 of 06

Circadian Optics Lumos Light Therapy Lamp

Circadian Optics Lumos light therapy lamp SAD lamp product photo

This is the best seasonal affective disorder lamp if you plan to take it with you on the go. It's also adjustable via three different hinges, making it easy to position in any way you need it.

"I use it for about an hour each morning...The sun sets very early here in midwinter (4 p.m. or earlier) so I've also been doing another half hour around sunset to keep my brain in the right schedule," noted a shopper. "Some days I'll use it more or less depending on how dark it is outside. When I do put it away, I love that it folds down compactly with the light protected...I'm so pleased with this product. It's well made, it works well as a therapy light, and it was worth every penny," they raved.

03 of 06

Alaska Northern Lights Northstar Light Therapy Lamp

Alaska Northern Lights Bright Light Therapy Lamp SAD lamp product photo

This briefcase lookalike seasonal affective disorder lamp has a handle that you can use to move it effortlessly. It also lights up a room like no other: The light shines a full two feet away, where most light therapy lamps only reach six inches.

"I suffer from SAD so my husband bought me this light," wrote a customer. "The changes were subtle at first but then I realized how much more motivated I had become and how much more I was engaging in activities that I typically avoid during the dreary winter months. It has been so liberating," they shared.

04 of 06

Aura Day Light Lamp

Aura Day Light Lamp light therapy lamp/SAD lamp product photo

This compact light therapy lamp has an integrated timer, which will immediately shut off the light after the indicated amount of time, between 10 and 60 minutes.

"I read the reviews of the other lights offered on Amazon and purchased this one for my wife on that [basis]. She loves this lamp," wrote one reviewer. "Between the short days and the gray days, it is hard for her to get out of bed some mornings. She placed the light on her nightstand and turns it on for 15–20 minutes before she gets up in the morning and it makes a world of difference," he noted.

05 of 06

Northern Light Technology Flamingo Light Therapy Floor Lamp

Northern Light Technology Flamingo Bright Light Therapy Floor Lamp light therapy lamp/SAD lamp product photo

This floor lamp doubles as a light therapy lamp — which means you can get your daily dose of light while preserving precious tabletop space.

"I thought this light was very expensive but wanted a light that I could leave out so I would use it every day," wrote a customer, who also mentioned that they have SAD. "It works very well and appears that it will last a long time. I like the light and feel better when I use it," they continued.

06 of 06

Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake-Up Light

Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake-up Light SAD lamp/light therapy lamp product photo

Dawn initiation lamps can help you start your day on the right foot even if you normally have difficulty getting out of bed. You set the alarm for your desired wake-up time, and the room will start to brighten for a period of time leading up to your alarm, mimicking a natural sunrise. Dawn initiation lamps are considered a less-intense treatment than your typical light therapy, says Dr. Gandotra.

"This light works as designed and wakes me up better than any other I've tried," wrote a shopper. "I was told by a sleep specialist many years ago that there's a certain frequency of light that stimulates the 'feel good' hormones in the morning — in the red/orange frequency — this has those," they added.

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