Aug 16, 2023
Best SAD lamp 2023: Stave off the winter blues
With the days getting shorter and darker, winter can be a particularly miserable time for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but the best SAD lamps can help to alleviate this
With the days getting shorter and darker, winter can be a particularly miserable time for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but the best SAD lamps can help to alleviate this suffering. SAD sufferers can find it harder to concentrate, as well as suffering from lower energy, confidence and, in severe cases, depression.
Fortunately, bright-light therapy in the form of a SAD lamp can save the day by making up for the lack of SERT (a serotonin transporting protein) that causes the condition. Whether you’re after a lamp to use while working at your desk, or a wake-up light to help you get out of bed in the morning, finding the right one for you needn’t be a challenge.
To help make things easier, we’ve listed our selection of the best SAD lamps you can buy, as well as a short buying guide that should help inform your purchasing decision.
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There is increasing evidence that SAD lamps can be effective, but you must buy one that is medically certified to treat SAD. Ideally, look for one that’s registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Light intensity is measured in lux, so the brighter the light, the higher the lux and the less time you need to spend in front of it. To work effectively, a SAD lamp needs to emit at least 2,500 lux, although all the SAD lamps we recommend have 10,000 or more. Check the instructions about how close to sit and for how long because this can vary significantly between different lamps.
White light is the most common and while this can be very effective, there is some research to suggest blue light treatment can also work well. Some models have an additional red light to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day.
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LED lights have been proven to work just as well as traditional tube bulb devices, but neither is considered superior to the other.
Some SAD lamps have settings for changing the intensity of the light, but it’s worth noting that you can achieve a similar effect manually by simply moving the lamp further away. If you don’t want to sit near a plug socket, get a SAD lamp that works with rechargeable batteries. If you want to travel with it, consider buying one with a travel bag.
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Price: £90 | Buy now from Boots
The Lumie Vitamin L is one of the most energy-efficient SAD lamps around, but the biggest selling point for most people will be the fact that it emits a slightly softer light than other SAD lamps. A treatment of 20-30 minutes a day at 10,000 lux from a distance of 20cm should help lift your mood, or you can sit at arm's length for an hour or two while using your computer to get the same effect.
It’s got a handy stand that enables you to position it either portrait or landscape, and a nice big surface area too, making it feel almost like you're sitting next to a window that's being flooded with bright sunlight. The only catch is that there's no option to adjust the brightness setting - you'll just have to sit further away if you find it too much. Overall, though, it's difficult to ask much more from the Vitamin L when you consider its relatively low asking price. If you're looking to buy your first SAD lamp, look no further.
Key specs – Dimensions: 28cm x 20cm x 3 cm; Weight: 830g; Power: 10,000 lux; Warranty: 3 years
Price: £39 | Buy now from Amazon
Known for its compact designs, German engineering and pioneering technology Beurer is one of the biggest names in SAD lamps. The TL30 is smaller than an A4 notebook, so you can easily slip it into your bag for work or going on holiday. Users say they can feel benefits in only 15 minutes thanks to its design, which emits the equivalent light to a bright summer’s day.
Unlike many machines at this size and cost, there’s no flickering, the light emission is even across the screen, and it’s UV-free. Be warned that the light can seem quite glaring on first use, but you get used to it quickly enough.
Key specs – Dimensions: 23.6cm x 15.6cm x 2.6cm; Weight: 330g; Power: 10,000 lux at 10cm; Warranty: 3 years
Price: £100 | Buy now from Argos
If you struggle to get going in the morning, one of Lumie’s wake-up lights could be just the thing for you. By gradually brightening and changing colour for a set amount of time (20-45mins) ahead of your alarm going off, the Bodyclock Glow 150 mimics sunrise to help you wake feeling energised even on the darkest of winter mornings. Not only that, but its handy sunset mode can also boost melatonin production to help you nod off more quickly at night.
Unlike some rival wake-up lamps, Lumie’s wake-up lamps are all certified medical devices, meaning they’ve passed rigorous safety tests and are supported by clinical research. And although this lamp works in a different way to the bright-light therapy lights featured elsewhere on this page, Lumie says it is proven to treat SAD. That said, the brand suggests using both a wake-up light and a lightbox for the best effects.
The Glow 150 is a great wake-up light, but if you're happy to spend a bit more, the Bodyclock Shine 300 is another great option that also comes with a handy FM radio.
Key specs – Dimensions: 14.3cm x 14.3cm x 3.5cm; Weight: 350g; Warranty: 2 years
Price: £144 | Buy now from John Lewis
The Lumie Desklamp has a unique design and we love it. Unlike the other lamps in this list, it looks like a regular desk lamp. Its adjustable neck makes it a great option for use at your desk, as well as for areas like a bedside table where you can use it while reading. Other standout points include the touch-sensitive switch, which makes it easy to use and the blue-enriched white light that aims to regulate your body clock. Lumie recommends using the lamp for an hour a day on the softer light, or for 30 minutes with the diffuser that’s included, both from 20cm. While the light is bright, it isn’t blinding, but the lamp is bulky.
Key specs – Dimensions: 55cm x 29cm x 20cm; Weight: 1.78 kg; Power: 10,000 lux; Warranty: 3 years
Price: £199 | Buy now from Lumie
As one of the leading brands in SAD lamps, it’s no surprise that this is the fourth Lumie product to appear in our roundup. Lumie describes the Halo as its most versatile light therapy light to date. In day mode, it offers 10,000 LUX at 20cm while using a warmer LED light to help you wind down in its evening mode, and you can easily adjust brightness and colour temperature using a touch slider. We tested the lamp for about an hour each morning during the onset of autumn, and found it helped beat that lethargic morning feeling. It’s also got a backlight that can be used in day or evening mode to add an extra bit of ambient illumination.
What’s more, the Halo looks strikingly good. It’s certainly more stylish than many of the slab-like SAD lamps that appear in our roundup. The only issue we had with it was that the backlight can be tricky to turn on and off. This is done by double tapping the back of the lamp, which we found to be irritatingly unresponsive. For the best results, it’s best to have the lamp on a solid flat surface.
It’s also the most expensive lamp on our list at £200 and, unlike a number of Lumie products, it isn’t a medically certified device. But, if you’re after a SAD lamp that makes a statement in the interior design department, the Halo is a fine choice. When you order it directly from Lumie, you also get a free 45-day trial to test it out, at the end of which you can return it if it doesn’t work for you.
Key specs – Dimensions: 33 x 32.4 x 19.7cm; Weight: 2.2kg; Power: 10,000 lux; Warranty: 3 yearsREAD NEXT: Banish the damp with these top dehumidifiersBest-value SAD lamp: Lumie Vitamin LBest portable SAD lamp: Beurer TL30Best desk lamp style SAD lamp: Lumie DesklampBest medically approved wake up light: Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150READ NEXT: Keep warm with the best electric blanketREAD NEXT: Check out our favourite desk lampsPrice:Buy now from BootsKey specs – Dimensions:Weight:Power:Warranty:Price:Buy now from AmazonKey specs – Dimensions:Weight:Power: Warranty:Price:Buy now from ArgosKey specs – Dimensions:Weight:Warranty:Price:Buy now from John LewisKey specs – Dimensions: Weight:Power:Warranty:Price:Buy now from LumieKey specs – Dimensions:Weight:Power:Warranty: