The best light therapy lamp of 2020
For people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or general low moods due to a lack of sunlight, a light therapy lamp can make a huge amount of difference.
Though there's still some discussion about light therapy by experts in the field, it's believed that it encourages the brain to produce melatonin (a sleep hormone) and serotonin (a lack of which is linked to low moods).
For this guide, we've done extensive research to find the best light therapy lamps of 2020. Our shortlist includes two existing favorites that still stand up to scrutiny, plus a strong new addition to our top three.
Best light therapy lamps of 2020
1. Verilux's HappyLight Full-Size Light Therapy Lamp: Due to its high quality at a reasonable price, this light therapy lamp is our returning favorite.
2. Verilux's HappyLight Compact Light Therapy Lamp: Though you lose some of the high-end features of the full-size lamp with this more compact and affordable version, it's still a great option, which is why it's back in our top three.
3. Circadian Optics' Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp: This model is compact, easy to use, and effective, making it a new favorite of ours.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before buying a light therapy lamp
A quality light therapy lamp should emit full spectrum or broad-spectrum light. Full-spectrum light contains all the natural wavelengths of light from infrared to ultraviolet (UV). Broad-spectrum light contains all wavelengths excluding UV. If you opt for a full spectrum light therapy lamp, it must have some method for filtering UV, so you don't get sunburn or skin damage.
The brightness of a light therapy lamp is important. Brightness is measured in lux, with 10,000 lux being the appropriate brightness for a light therapy lamp. In the past, very bright models were expensive, but now you can buy them at a reasonable price. That said, you may want a model with adjustable brightness, so you can choose a slightly lower brightness when 10,000 lux is just too much. The brighter the lamp, the less time you need to spend in front of it to see results. For example, to get the same benefits you receive using a 10,000-lux light therapy lamp for 30 minutes, you'd need to use a 5,000 lux light therapy lamp for an hour.
You may like your light therapy lamp to feature a timer, so you know when to stop your session without having to check your watch or phone.
Light therapy lamps can cost anywhere from $30 to $200, depending on their size, brightness, and features.
You must be consistent with your light therapy to see improvements. Use it every day from the start of fall to the end of winter.
Position your light therapy lamp so it's approximately two feet from your eyes, though you may need to sit closer to weak lamps to see results.
Light from your light therapy lamp should enter your eyes indirectly, meaning you shouldn't look directly into it.
Start out with 20 to 30 minutes of light therapy each morning. If you don't notice improvements, you can increase this up to an hour.
Some people experience mild side effects such as eye strain and headaches when starting light therapy. However, this is rare and should pass quickly.
Light therapy isn't suitable for people with certain preexisting conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. If in doubt, consult your physician.
In-depth reviews for best light therapy lamps
Best of the best: Verilux's HappyLight Full-Size Light Therapy Lamp
What we like: Emits up to 10,000 lux of full-spectrum, UV-free light. Interchangeable lenses and two brightness levels. 41 square inch lens surface area. Safety tested.
What we dislike: Some users wish it came with a timer.
Best bang for your buck: Verilux's HappyLight Compact Light Therapy Lamp
What we like: A small and portable option that's great for travel or anyone on a budget. Emits 10,000 lux of full-spectrum light. No flicker and reduced glare to avoid eye strain.
What we dislike: It doesn't have adjustable brightness settings.
What we like: It's simple to adjust the position of the light and you can pick from three brightness levels. Light reaches up to 10,000 lux of brightness. Sleek, compact design with small footprint.
What we dislike: We'd prefer it if the power cord were longer.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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