The Best SAD/Light Therapy Lamps of 2021
Canadians across the country know how dark Canada can get in winter. Chances are that you or someone you know is impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD – during the winter months, which manifests as a type of depression. While the specific cause of SAD is still unknown, factors like serotonin levels, Vitamin D intake and your biological clock (or circadian rhythm) seem to be connected to SAD. While SAD tends to lift in springtime, getting through those winter months can be incredibly difficult.
A few things happen to your body when the days start to get shorter as winter progresses: the amount of sunlight the body gets diminishes which often leads to Vitamin D deficiency, and without the guide of the sun rising when you are, your circadian rhythm is prone to get thrown off. These factors become easily avoidable with light therapy, where exposure to bright light everyday can help you solidify your circadian rhythm and produce vitamin D. While it is scientifically unclear if and how light therapy is effective in treating SAD, many people are finding improved mood, sleep and energy levels after introducing a session of sitting by the bright light of a SAD lamp in their everyday morning routine.
Below, you will find out choices for the best SAD lamp or light therapy lamps in Canada.
Our top picks
What to look for in a sad lamp
There are many factors that set different SAD lamps apart. While we recommend you confer with a medical professional about whether light therapy for depression is right for you, here are some other recommendations of things you should consider before buying a SAD light.
- Size – Size is always a factor when shopping for furnishing or an appliance, but size proves important in other ways for SAD lamps. Experts recommend a lamp with a larger light surface, above 12 by 18 inches, for optimal retention of the full-spectrum light. Smaller lamps may require you to be much closer for the light to have the same impact. On the other hand, smaller SAD lamps are much easier to transport, meaning you could take your lamp between home and the office if you needed to.
- Adjustability – Getting a lamp that has an adjustable stand or variety of ways to hold it up. Experts recommend using a SAD lamp from above that is angled down, to maximize the light your body is getting and so you can avoid looking directly into the lamp. However, you will most likely find a set up that works for you, so finding an adjustable lamp that can move or be places in a variety of places will be useful in the long run.
- Lux – we recommend getting a lamp with 10,000 Lux, and using it at the recommended distance, to see the best results for treatment of SAD. Less Lux means the longer you will need to use the lamp to see results.
- Price – When isn’t price a consideration before buying anything? The best lamps on this list include a big screen, adjustable stand and soft, non-overwhelming light and are generally more expensive.
- You – Light therapy works for some people and does not work for others. It is important to note that this type of therapy is designed to combat seasonal affective disorder specifically, and other forms of mental illness might respond negatively or not at all with light therapy. If you feel bummed out in winter months and want to add some brightness into your life, this is a product that is suited for you. We highly recommend talking to a medical practitioner before hitting “Buy Now”.
How we picked
For this buying guide, we chose SAD Lamps and related products with a 4+ star average or higher online. We found that people are primarily looking for a lamp that provides 10,000 Lux for use at decent distance, while cost, look and size are other important variables.
The best SAD lamp
Carex Daylight Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp
SAD Lamps can get bright: some users have complained about the eye strain that looking into the light can bring. If a comfortable, customizable experience is what you are looking for in a SAD lamp, the Carex Daylight Classic Plus provides one of the best user experiences from what we have gathered.
The Daylight Classic Plus is a safe way for you to get 10000 lux of light every morning, with the lamp only between 12” and 14” away from your face. This sun lamp is on an adjustable stand that allows for expert recommended downwards facing light, to avoid unnecessary eye contact with the light source. Additionally, the larger screen filters 99.3% of harmful UV rays, while spreading out more light than smaller lamps for increased results.
Users are overall very happy with the results light therapy with the Carex Daylight Classic Plus have yielded. People find their energy levels increased and longer sleeps after resetting their circadian rhythm with this lamp, while not finding the lamp too bright to bright to do things or becoming uncomfortable.
One aspect users tended to agree on was the Classic plus needs anti-slip properties and does not instill much confidence when at its full height, however there seems to be an agreement that the build quality is adequate.
- Large surface projects 10,000 Lux light for quick effective absorption.
- Adjustable height and angle.
- Increased stability would be nice for peace of mind
- More expensive.
Best SAD floor lamp
Northern Light Technologies Flamingo 10K Lux Floor Lamp
While many sun lamps for SAD on this list are designed to sit on a desk or table while you work, these set ups can take up valuable space and might not be ideal for most users. If you are looking for an alternative setup so you can get your 10,000 Lux in each morning, Northern Light Technologies offer a floor lamp that can provide much needed flexibility in certain set ups.
The Flamingo offers 10,000 Lux of UV blocked, full spectrum lighting at 12 inches, made easier thanks to the adjustable angle in the lamp. Experts recommend larger light sources, as well as that light coming towards you at a downward angle – just like the sun. The Flamingo is an easy way to meet these criteria, as the four-foot-tall stand can angle for the perfect setup in most homes.
Users are very happy with the prospect of a Floor lamp that can help them get their light therapy in. Many users are happy with the versatility and size needed for the different requirements different people need in a SAD Lamp. The base is heavy and the electronically powered ballast keeps the angle you want.
- Floor SAD lamp perfect for tighter spacers.
- Large lamp for effective light therapy.
- UV blocked, full spectrum lighting.
Best portable SAD lamp
Verilux VT10WW1 Happylight Liberty Compact Light Therapy Lamp
If you are worried about getting light therapy in on a busy lifestyle or in a cramped bedroom, our recommendation is for you to think smaller with the Verilux Happylight Compact Therapy Lamp. In a compact, lightweight design, you can bring the Happylight Liberty with you between home, or your office or fit it into small spaces like cubicles or college dorms.
At only 16cm by 8 cm big and weighing just over half a kilogram, the Verilux will fit where you want it for light therapy: whether at your kitchen table, office desk or on the bathroom shelf. This little lamp is bright too, packing 5,000 Lux, despite somewhat misleading claims from the company. While this is half of the expected lux that other therapy lamps provide, you can get the same benefits from 10,000 Lux by doubling up your session.
With the smaller size, you may need longer sessions to get the same benefit from the Happylight Liberty. However, many users are satisfied using the Happylight Liberty for light therapy and have noticed changes with their energy levels and the quality of sleep they are getting. Users with negative experiences found the light burnt out quickly, but other users were content with the portability and phototherapy for SAD this little lamp provided.
- Budget option.
- Lightweight and compact allows for portability.
- 5000 Lux of light, not 10,000.
- Bulb tends to burn out quickly.
Best stylish SAD lamp
Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp
If looks are just about as important as functionality in your Light Therapy lamp, there are a few lamps on this list that might take your eye – hopefully not while the lamp is on, though. The Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp is both an effective, 10,000 Lux sun lamp and gorgeous accent piece that will not look out of place in even the chicest designer bedrooms.
The Circadian Optics Lattis provides 10000 Lux of natural–feeling white light that imitates the colour and brightness of noon sun. With 3 different settings accessible through 1 touch, you can pick the best amount of light for your environment, your distance from the light and your sensitivity to light. Additionally, the full-spectrum light of the Lattis Light Therapy lamp is UV free, so you can relax while soaking up the rays.
With long lasting LED bulbs that pack a lifespan of 50,000 hours, and a 2-year warranty, Circadian is certain you will be happy with your Lattis lamp for a long time. Users were overall happy with using the Lattis for light therapy. Users noted that the power switches were not intuitive and placed on the back which proved difficult to access in certain setups. Additionally, despite the lamp being over a foot tall, the slimness of the design limits the amount of 10,000 Lux light emitted.
- Stylish silhouette.
- 10,000 Lux light.
- Long lasting LED with warranty to back it up.
- Awkward and unintuitive switches.
- Lamp itself could be wider for more effective absorption of light.
Best SAD lamp made in Canada
Luxor 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Pyramid Lamp
Another SAD lamp that comes with a cool, funky design, the Luxor 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Pyramid Lamp is a great addition to your Light therapy regiment. With a large, triangular source of light that will make your light therapy sessions quick and efficient, you cannot go wrong with the Luxor Pyramid Lamp.
This lamp was made in Canada, so you can trust Luxor to know what Canadians need in a Light Therapy lamp. 10,000 Lux from 12” away for starters. A very efficient 45w CFL eliminates flicker and keeps the light consistent. The large assembly takes up space but allows for a larger light source for more effective Light Therapy. Sun lamps with smaller screens for the light usually require longer and closer sessions for users to see the full effect. The result is bright light that is also diffused for less intensity and UV free to boot.
Users overall were very happy using the Luxor 10,000 Lux Therapy Pyramid Lamp in their light therapy for depression or other ailments associated with the darkness or winter, and users also reported enjoying the design. While we think the Luxor 10,000 Lux Bright Light Therapy Pyramid is one of the better lamps for Light Therapy, there are features the Luxor does not have like multiple brightness settings or a built-in timer for the price range.
- Large surface for absorption of 10,000 Lux light.
- Diffuse light for less extreme brightness.
- Striking silhouette.
- No brightness settings or timer.
- On the larger size of things.
Best SAD lamp around $100
Miroco Light Therapy Lamp
Looking through many of the lamps on this list, you may start to notice an overbearing whiteness about all of them: for the most part, their design is white, plain and lacking warmth you might need on a cold dull day. We like the Miroco Light Therapy lamp for it is nice, inviting woodgrain design and the load of features this lamp packs.
With full-spectrum, UV-free LED light, the Miroco Light Therapy Lamp produces 10,000 lux at a range between 5.5 to 20 inches away. With 3 different brightness levels that are accessible with the touch of a button and a timer that ranges between 10 to 60 minutes, you can precisely get the amount of light you need.
The Miroco lamp is small with a foldable bracket that makes the Miroco Light Therapy lamp simple to store and transport wherever you might need your Therapy Light with you. If you do not know what the best place in your space for your therapy lamp is, the Miroco lamp can hang on the wall instead.
Users enjoyed using the Miroco Light Therapy Lamp for their daily light sessions and found the device easy to use and bright. However, this device is on the smaller side, so the screen is not as effective at providing your body the light it needs as larger lamps available. However, overall people who chose this lamp were very happy with their decision
- Nice looking wood grain design.
- 10,000 Lux brightness.
- Built-in timer and brightness settings.
- Lamp light source is on the smaller side.
Best wake-up light
Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-up Light Therapy Lamp
The short days of winter can affect a person’s mood beyond the scope of seasonal affective disorder. If the changing hours of daylight is messing with your sleep schedule and you are looking for a solution, we recommend the Philips SmartSleep as a less bright solution that seasonal affective disorder lamps.
This is different from the other SAD lights on this that work by producing full-spectrum light with a brightness of 10,000 Lux. Since this light does not provide brightness near enough for it effectively help your body fight off symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, you should think of the Philips SmartSleep primarily as a sleep aide that can help your circadian rhythm stay consistent and helps you wake up naturally.
The Philips Smartsleep Connected works as a versatile alarm clock that stimulates natural sunrise and sunset to help you relax and to fall asleep and wake up naturally. The changing light level helps your body shift between states easily and helps you get out of bed in the morning.
The Smartsleep also is an FM radio and can connect to your phone to play music, so you can wake up and fall asleep aided by whatever sounds help you sleep. You can also control this clock through your phone, adjusting settings like the amount of light you need if you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
This light can produce only 315 Lux of light, which comes up short for Light Therapy purposes, however, the Philips Smartsleep is a great option for those who maybe are not suffering from SAD or used in conjunction with a Therapy lamp to help you energize in the mornings. Users found this clock helped them feel energized and wake up in the morning, and users like the sheer range of customization available.
- Wide range of customizable settings accessible by smartphone.
- Range of colours for gorgeous sunrise/sunset effect, indoors.
- Speaker built in for waking up to music or FM Radio.
- Not technically a sun lamp because it does not get bright enough.
Why trust us
For a technology that is relatively new and unproven, you might not know where to begin when shopping for a light therapy lamp. It was our goal to not only give a range of SAD Lamps so at least one would appeal to a shopper, but also to provide information in a clear, uncomplicated way.
Our team spent over 12 hours reviewing and choosing the best lamps designed for treatment of seasonal affective disorder, based on the top user reviews online and expert analysis.
Frequently asked questions about SAD lamps
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that leads to increased levels of depression in the winter months generally. While the exact cause of SAD is not known, one theory posits that the lack of sunlight most people receive in the winter months leads to a downturn in serotonin production.
What is a SAD lamp?
SAD Lamps are lamps that are designed to alleviate symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder by recreating natural daylight, which in turn can encourage your brain to produce serotonin. SAD Lamps can also help adjust your circadian rhythm when the days get shorter.
Are SAD lamps worth it? Do they work?
Light Therapy from a SAD Lamp may improve symptoms, including increasing energy levels and improve your mood, however it is important that light therapy probably will not cure Seasonal Affective Disorder. We recommend if you are struggling with SAD, you should discuss using SAD lamps as treatment with a health care practitioner.
What are the benefits of light therapy for SAD?
While mileage associated with light therapy and SAD lamps varies, the benefits associated with light therapy include improvement of seasonal affective disorder, better mood and improved sleep cycles as a result of adjustment of your circadian rhythm.
How to use a SAD lamp?
To use a SAD Lamp, you sit or work near it while on, so that the light from the lamp will enter your eyes indirectly. You will want to position the lamp in such a way that you will get the benefit of the light without it affecting your sight or blinding you. These lamps produce bright light that can potentially cause damage if you look directly into it. You should use it only for the recommended amount of time (between 30 minutes or 2 hours a day, but we recommend you talk to your doctor about this) and use it at roughly the same time every day. For best results, it is recommended you use a SAD lamp in the morning after you wake up.
Should I do light therapy at night?
It is recommended you do Light Therapy in the early morning. We recommend against doing light therapy at night, as it could interfere with your circadian rhythm and the other benefits that light therapy provides.
Do SAD lamps boost vitamin D production?
Yes, in clinical trials it has been found that light therapy with the help of SAD lights help create Vitamin D, and Vitamin D deficiencies have been correlated with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Will a SAD Sun lamp make you happy?
While a SAD lamp will help people deal with symptoms related to seasonal affective disorder, with people seeing improved moods after daily light therapy, it may not have impact on non-seasonal forms of depression. Also, this lamp will not fix your love life or stop your mom unfavorably comparing you to your overachieving sibling.
What are the types of light therapy?
Other solutions that could help improve symptoms of people with SAD include sunrise simulators, installing natural spectrum light bulbs throughout your home, or using Bluewave blue lights.
Can you use a SAD light too much?
Overuse of a SAD lamp can lead to insomnia and other side effects.
What is the best time of the day for light therapy?
Experts seem to recommend using a sad lamp as light therapy in the morning. While schedules and people vary, it seems that getting your 10,000 Lux in with breakfast or while checking emails at work proves effective with users online. We suggest talking with your healthcare practitioner to help figure out when light therapy would be best for you.
What is the best position for a SAD lamp?
The best position for a SAD lamp is somewhere that it can sit at 16 to 24 inches from your face, so that is angled downward so you do not get the bright light directly into your eyes. You will use it from anywhere up to 30 minutes to an hour, so placing it at your desk at home or at the kitchen table might be advantageous, or if you apply makeup, in your bathroom might be an appropriate spot.
What are the side effects of SAD light therapy?
Some side effects of Light therapy include Eye strain, headache, nausea, or insomnia. If you also battle bipolar disorder, SAD therapy lamps have been known to trigger mania, euphoria or hyperactivity.
What is the average price for SAD lamps?
You can find SAD lamps from between $50-200 on average.
Verilux seems to be one of the companies who are leading the design and utility of lamps designed for light therapy for depression and other ailments that winter brings, and the Verilux HappyLight VT22 Lucent is one of their flagships.
This Verilux model offers 10,000 Lux of full spectrum, UV-free light up to 24 inches away from your face, although users have noted this light needs to be much closer for you to get the full effect.
This lamp is also solidly portable with a small footprint. We recommend this lamp to you if you were turned off by the fact that the HappyLight Liberty was not fully 10,000 Lux
For a cheaper Carex Day-Light Therapy Lamp, we recommend The Light Sky Bright Light Therapy lamp for all the important features of the Day-Light Plus.
This model of the Carex is flare free and UV filtered, for comfortable, safe light therapy sessions at home, providing 10,000 Lux of light at 12 inches away. The 13.5 x 10–inch screen is very effective at delivering full-spectrum light.
This Carex lamp also comes with adjustable base so you can find the height and angle that works best for you.
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