10 Expert-Recommended Light Therapy Lamps to Boost Your Mood
With the right lamps, you can literally and figuratively lighten the mood.
Retreating to a cave-like bedroom during the winter months and curling up under the covers is sometimes essential, but prolonged periods of hibernation can have a significant detriment on your mood that you don’t immediately recognize.
The aptly titled condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), is the colloquial name for the winter depression. “Reduced daylight hours, snow, rain or clouds may cause a person to experience persistent low mood levels which can lead to symptoms of depression,” says Dr. Brian Wind, PhD clinical psychologist and Chief Clinical Officer at addiction recovery center Journey Pure.
Add in the WFHB—that’s the Working From Home Blues™ (which I just coined)—and our moods can quickly take a turn for the worse. And this one-two punch of being stuck indoors with limited hours of daylight can severely affect not just our moods but our productivity and livelihoods, says Alex Thompson, director of decorative lighting firm Festoon House.
However, and this is the important part, it’s not all doom and gloom. “Light therapy helps combat that demotivation by mimicking daylight, thus helping to improve our mood and boosting our productivity as well,” says Thompson. The best part? You can bring light therapy right into your home. Here are 10 lighting devices to help boost your mood as the sun continues to set at an unreasonably early hour.
When searching for the right light therapy lamp, it’s important to combine the correct levels of intensity and timing. According to the Mayo Clinic, 10,000 lux (a light’s intensity) should be paired with about 20-30 minutes of therapy each day at a distance of 14-16 inches from your face. Using that method, Wind recommends the Verilux HappyLight Lucent not only for its easily transportable size and shape, but because it’s “highly effective as a full-spectrum light that is UV-free.”
Thompson notes that this lamp also employs 10,000 lux at a distance of 14 inches from a downward angle. However, he specifically loves the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp for a desk setup. “The light is mounted on an adjustable stand and it can boost your mood and motivation when you don't feel like working,” he says.
If you’re looking to make light therapy a permanent fixture in your home, this floor lamp from Northern Light Technologies is the way to go. Standing 4 feet tall once assembled and delivering 10,000 lux at 12 inches, this device is a great option for your bedside or home gym. Depending on your lifestyle, you can easily employ light therapy while you’re reading or sweating it out on the Peloton.
While this alarm clock/light combo doesn’t focus on light therapy per se (it only has a brightness of about 300 lux), the natural simulation of the sunrise is a great way to wake up. Over the course of 30 minutes, the simulation will start off a soft morning red and gradually increase until your room is filled with bright yellow light. Wind says, “It helps you regulate the production of serotonin and melatonin, making it easier to wake up.”
The Aura Day Light is a good option for beginners thanks to its patented lux adjusting dial. At just 3,500 lux at its lowest setting, you can start slow and work your way up to the recommended 10,000 lux—though it's suggested you do so under the guidance of the manufacturer’s instructions or a doctor if you’re unsure. The Aura Day Light also comes with a timer, so you can set it and forget it while you complete other tasks.
Part of what makes light therapy so useful during the winter months is that it boosts the body’s circadian rhythm, says Thompson, the body’s internal clock that responds to light and dark. “That means when there is a lack of light (like in the winter), it affects our mood and sleeping patterns,” he adds. Enter the ultra sleek Lumos 2.0 from Circadian Optics. Complete with all the standard bells and whistles (10,000 lux, UV filters, and long-lasting LEDs), you’ll get the most out of this lamp in the morning, alerting your mind and body that it’s daytime (even if the sun can’t).
We totally get it if you’re thrown off by this price tag, but the team at Bios is impressive. These former NASA scientists first developed technology to provide astronauts with the natural light they lack during space exploration—and have since decided to bless their creations with us normies. The Skyview Wellness Table Lamp isn’t a product you use once a day; it’s a 24-hour lamp that mimics the sun’s cycle. Each mode (including cool-blue daytime and and warm-orange sunset) uses different color temperatures and light wavelengths to keep you alert and improve your mood all day long.
Though Hatch started as a collection of noise machines for babies and kids, the brand has since expanded to help adults wind down and sleep through the night as well. In addition to being a soothing alarm clock and sound machine, the Hatch Restore allows you to gently relax into sleep next to the glow of a soft reading light—minus the melatonin-blocking blue hues.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a smarter lamp than Dyson’s lightcycle morph. Connected to an app on your phone, this task lamp uses a patented GPS-driven algorithm to understand your local daylight and adjust itself accordingly—meaning you’re never getting too bright, too dark, or the wrong hue of light. In addition, this lamp emits a glare-controlled light that helps combat eye strain.
If all else fails, start simple. Philips’ beloved LED Hue smart bulbs allow you full autonomy of the light in your home. If you’re having trouble focusing during the day, use the app to explore the range of blue and white lights. When you find yourself struggling to relax, check out the range of yellows and oranges. In addition to bulbs’ white light shades, there are 16 million colors to experience. Plus, Philips’ hue lights are compatible with most lamps and fixtures you already have at home, so there’s no need to sacrifice style for comfort.