Three best light therapy lamps
Whether you reside in a harsh winter environment, work long overtime hours in an office cubicle, or suffer from mood disorders like depression or SAD, a light therapy lamp can be an investment that offers your mental health some relief. Light therapy has proven extremely effective in reducing symptoms of seasonal and non-seasonal depression by mimicking natural sunlight, a key antidote to lowering chemicals in the brain linked with sleep and mood disorders. If you feel light therapy could be a step toward achieving mental health, take a few minutes to check out our research on the best light therapy lamps and how to use them.
Considerations when choosing light therapy lamps
The intensity of the lamp you buy is by far the most important consideration before making your light therapy purchase, as the product's intensity can single-handedly determine the success of the treatment. Light intensity is measured by lux, a unit which defines the level of brightness perceived by the eyes. While home lighting usually falls around 50 lux, light therapy treatment should usually range somewhere between 2,500 to 10,000 lux. The higher the lux, the higher the price tag. Cheaper lamps with 2,500 lux will require around 1 to 2 hours of light therapy per day, while mid-range lamps at 8,000 lux depend on 45 minutes to an hour of participation. Models with 10,000 lux should only require around 15 to 30 minutes of treatment per day. Be aware that therapy lamps can be harmful with misuse--to prevent permanent retina damage, avoid staring directly into the lamp, and warn children about the lamp's dangers before placing it in your home.
A lamp's size is also important in determining the success of the treatment. If you choose a lamp that is too small, the light may not provide the proper benefits. However, if you purchase a lamp that's too large, the intensity of the product may prove overwhelming. When determining the size you'll need, consider your environment. If you plan to use the light in an office space, a smaller desk lamp may be ideal. These smaller lamps should be placed around two feet from your eyes for retina protection, but still try to sit close to them (especially if the lamp has a lower lux). Larger, box-style lamps are better suited for living rooms and bedrooms.
Some light therapy lamps come with a timer feature, which many users find extremely helpful in measuring the time spent in treatment sessions. If you or your doctor desire an accurate record of the time spent in light therapy, consider purchasing a lamp with a built-in timer.
Pricing for light therapy lamps can be tricky, since prices depend on both the size of the lamp and the light's lux. Generally, light therapy lamps fall between $30 to $200. Smaller lamps with 2,500 lux should be around $30 to $40; however, these cheaper models will require longer therapy sessions. Small lamps with 7,500 to 8,000 lux are typically priced around $45 to $65, while their larger counterparts are around $70 to $90. Lamps with 10,000 lux begin around $75 for a small model. Larger 10,000 lux lamps usually fall within the $100 to $200 range.
Other important details
Therapy lamps are available in two different light sources: full spectrum light, and broad-spectrum light. Full spectrum light utilizes wavelengths literally across the light spectrum, from infrared to ultraviolet. For this reason, full spectrum lamps tend to emit a bluish hue. If you decide to purchase a full spectrum lamp, be sure to find a model that completely filters out the UV rays, preventing skin damage. Broad spectrum light is usually bright white and does not emit any UV rays.
Q: How long does treatment take?
A: Treatment length can be determined by a doctor and is typically prescribed daily for a few weeks. However, many users without a prescription enjoy using the lamp through the fall and winter seasons.
Q: Are there any side effects of light therapy?
A: Some buyers experience anxiety or headaches when first beginning their light therapy treatment. If you begin to experience these symptoms, try reducing your session time.
Light therapy lamps we recommend
Best of the best: Verilux HappyLight Liberty Lux Light
Our take: Customers wanting a therapy lamp from a trusted brand in light therapy should check out this popular model from Verilux.
What we like: Full spectrum light with blocked UV. Offers 10,000 lux. Ideal size for bedrooms or offices.
What we dislike: Customers wish the product had a less awkward on/off switch.
Best bang for your buck: Verilux HappyLight Liberty Portable Light Therapy
Our take: Customers needing to transport their therapy lamp between home and work will appreciate this affordable, portable option.
What we like: Remarkably durable for its cheap price tag. Emits a moderate 5,000 lux. Extremely compact and lightweight.
What we dislike: Bulb can overheat with heavy use.
Choice 3: Northern Light Technology Boxelite-OS
Our take: This top-quality therapy lamp offers a larger box design for living spaces while also emitting 10,000 lux.
What we like: Blocks UV rays with full spectrum lighting. Sleek, contemporary design. Adjustable angles and height.
What we dislike: One of the more expensive models we researched.
Moriah Lee 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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