As the colder months approach us, more and more people are turning to their light therapy box. Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, or constantly drained of energy? You could be one of 10 million Americans that have seasonal depression. You, too, can be healed by light.
Let’s get the science straight.
1 lux equals 1 lumen per square meter. In other words, lux is the intensity of light in a specific area.
On an average Spring day, the sun radiates 10,000 lux. This is a healthy, happy dose of Vitamin D and sunlight. In the summer, the sun can be as strong as 100,000 lux. But winter — on an average winter day, the sun only gives us 1,000 lux and at night, any night, our bodies only receive 0.0001 lux.
Neglecting your body of sunlight can physically harm you! Light is essential to life.
That’s why places like Seattle, Portland, Alaska and much of Canada see a lot of people struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These places experience long periods of dreary weather, short days and even months of darkness. If you’re like most people, SAD symptoms start kicking in during the fall months and continue through the winter. The reverse, colloquially called “summer depression” is less common but still exists.
To be diagnosed with SAD, an individual must meet criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least two years. It’s 4x more common in women.
SAD is commonly believed to be linked to the cold weather, but it’s actually a chemical imbalance in the brain triggered by the loss of daylight.
If you think you may have SAD, schedule an appointment with your doctor or psychiatrist. Light box therapy is a drug-free option, but more severe cases may require medication or other forms of therapy.
How does light therapy work?
When our eyes receive 10,000 lux of bright light, certain signals are sent to the brain that help level the amounts of melatonin and serotonin in our bodies. For a sun lamp to actually be used as therapy, the light needs to shine in your eyes. You don’t have to look directly at it, but make sure the light is very close to you and that your eyes are exposed to it. UV rays are filtered out, so there’s no need to wear sunglasses or sunblock.
Light therapy isn’t only for people with SAD.
The health benefits of UVB light are practically endless. Receiving daily sunlight helps maintain healthy blood flow. Light therapy helps with postpartum. Even without SAD, your mood will improve and you’ll have more energy — right away.
There are some fashionable glasses to help wake you up in the morning naturally, following your circadian rhythm. You can even use any of these therapy lights with a smart plug so it automatically turns on at a pre-specified time.
Sleep schedule and mental health aside, light therapy is very powerful against skin conditions like ecxema, psoriasis and vitiligo.
People who work at night, spend a lot of time indoors, or watch a lot of TV could be lacking the bright light our bodies need to thrive. As a result, we may oversleep, overeat, and feel lethargic or anxious.
We counter that with light box therapy. And with that…
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1. The Luxor: 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Pyramid Lamp, White by Northern Light TechnologiesPros:
- "Pyramid of Happy" produces quick results
- Multifunctional: serves as an upscale modern decoration while providing light therapy
- Customer service is top notch, and even those unsatisfied were left satisfied after the fast and helpful customer service.
- Shape makes it difficult for room placement. It's fairly large for a light therapy box, measuring 15x15x15 inches. If you know this going into it (and many people consider the size a pro!), this isn't a con. However, this appears to be what most people are upset about.
- Amazon's packaging can be a little iffy, but this is no fault of the product
- A little expensive
For the minimalist, anything that combines function and design is a major win.
Designed by engineers with advanced degrees in lighting tech, this light therapy pyramid lamp is that major win. Offering 10,000 lux of UV-blocked, full spectrum lighting, the unique pyramidal design makes the Luxor stand out in any home or office, while also directing all its light toward you (mimicking the sun). The included 45w flicker-free CFL (curly bulb) provides efficiency and a bright, pleasant light.
The pyramid shape is even more than functionality and art. To Egyptians and many other early civilizations, pyramids were believed to promote healing. Bright light has been clinically studied to boost mood and energy all day long. The Luxor combines the two into your ultimate winter blues solution. Also, receiving the full 10,000 Lux from smaller units is difficult — you need to sit very close, and your eyes must be directly in front of the unit. The large pyramid shape makes this easier.
It’s definitely a statement piece.
If you’re more interested in a standing light therapy box that looks more like a lamp, consider Northern Light Technologies’ standing lamp.
2. New 2018 HappyLight Touch: 10,000 Lux LED Bright White Light Therapy Tablet, One-Touch by VeriluxPros:
- It's an LED bulb, so you'll probably never have to replace it
- Three year warranty
- Incredible value for the product you'll be receiving
- Since it's a small device, you may need to use (re: stare into the light) for a longer time - up to 60 minutes per day once your tolerance has built up.
- If you are prone to migraine headaches, be wary. You may prefer to choose a bigger device that has a larger surface area to diffuse light
- 2% of reported units broke
Sleek, modern and portable for your busy life. The Verilux HappyLight Touch is a welcome addition to any office or home. LED, UV-Free and full spectrum light delivers the recommended 10,000 lux — light level — intensity for effective light therapy. Non-invasive and drug-free, this is a perfect tablet-like device to carry around to conquer sunlight deprivation.
WHAT SETS IT APART: Touch options. There is a one-touch timer that allows the user four options to provide 15-60 minute session intervals, which keeps it energy-conscious for portability. HappyLight Touch also has three one-touch adjustable brightness settings to maximize user comfort.
NEW MODEL, NOVEMBER 2018: A new model of the HappyLight Touch has launched! This more modern-looking device features settings to adjust the color – warm white or daylight. There are also three light strengths since everyone’s sensitivity to light is different and all the characteristics you love from the original.
If you’re interested in the same brand, same concept, just larger: this HappyLight Full Size is for you.
For something even smaller, try the HappyLight Compact.
3. Northstar 10,000: Bright Light Therapy Box – 10,000 Lux by Alaska Northern LightsPros:
- Doctor recommended for seasonal affective disorder & places with dreary weather
- Quiet. 25,000 hertz electronic ballast. No flicker or electromagnetic field.
- People call it "lifechanging" and "entirely worth the price"
- Some simple assembly required
- Should be used on a solid surface rather than carpet, where it can possibly tip over
If you wanted a literal light therapy box, we can give you a literal light therapy box.
The Northstar 10,000 displays a full 10,000 lux at an impressive 2 feet, which is a key component of the price here. Smaller, dimmer boxes produce 10,000 lux at only 6-12 inches, so you essentially must have your face right in front of the device. In the Northstar, the intense light is dispersed with a low glare prismatic light diffuser to protect your eyes during light therapy treatment.
The size of a medium briefcase, this box is doctor recommended with a 7-year warranty and a 60-day trial with 100% risk-free money back guarantee. It’s also used in VA hospitals across the U.S.
Northstar is built of steel and made to last, with a state-of-the-art mirror finish reflector protecting 2 broad spectrum bulbs free of UV and blue light. It’s fully UL-listed and exceeds clinical standards for effective SAD lamp light therapy.
The comfortable low glare prismatic light diffuser protects your eyes.
Looking for something even bigger? Alaska Northern Lights has you covered. Aurora LightPad Max is their biggest, brightest LED light therapy box, at 10,000 lux dispersed over 30 inches.
4. 15,000 Lux, A5-Size, Happy Natural Sun Lamp for Health – WhitePros:
- Dial allows stepless dimming options
- Perfect for cubicle work
- Beautiful design looks like a bright, happy picture frame
- Cannot be hung on a wall
- No timer
- Inexpensive, so be wary. You get what you pay for
So, you remember the recommended therapeutic light intensity is 10,000. That’s what’s good for most.
Sometimes, your doctor may recommend a higher intensity.
This A5 sized SAD light produces full-spectrum light with a safe 5500K color temperature at 15,000 lux. Help conquer intense seasonal depression, jet lag, or shift work. If it’s snowy or raining, provide some of the brightest, natural sunlight to improve your mood and energy levels.
The bright light therapy is UV-free, so it’s all the benefits of the sun, without the negative effects of long-term exposure. The light area is 6.6×4.1/in.
If 15,000 is too bright for you all the time, a stepless dimmer allows you to adjust the brightness settings. But isn’t it nice to have the option?
5. TL100: 2-in-1 Sun Lamp/Mood Light with LightUp App and 256 color optionsPros:
- Includes dimmer & sleep timer
- Multifunctional: acts as a light therapy box AND 256 colors of mood lighting to choose from or cycle through
- LED light will probably never need to be replaced
- No wake-up feature
- It could use a handle for easier portability
- Steep price tag
This daylight lamp gives you a little extra sunshine on cloudy days – whether physical or metaphorical! Like the other lights on this list, it can also stop the production of melatonin to reset your sleep schedule. It can also lead to an uplifted mood.
The TL100 is able to produce 10,000 lux in such a small space because of the strong and modern LED light. Compared to LCD, LED light emanates a brighter and evener radiance. It’s also energy saving!
Some SAD lamps can only do one thing for you. This sun-like circle also acts as a mood light with 256 color options to illuminate your home when you’re not undergoing light therapy.
Feel free to control all your settings from the Beurer LightUp app on your smartphone, too.