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Even the best light therapy lamps are no absolute cure, but they can help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression, according to Eric C. Alcera, M.D., a behavioral health specialist at Hackensack Meridian Health in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Because let’s face it, winter can be a real downer. Soaking up the holiday cheer or practicing self-care can help, but sometimes you need to soak up the sun instead. Enter the light therapy or SAD sunlamp.
The idea is that these little lamps shine a bright light to mimic sunshine and trick your brain into making some of that sweet, sweet serotonin. They can also help with your sleep cycle if you’re having a hard time waking up in the morning. But if you’re worried about UV exposure, fear not! Though they’re called sunlamps, they don’t actually produce any UV rays.
Here are our picks for the best light therapy lamps, alarm clocks, and light bulbs to help you get through even the coldest days. These devices really do act like your own little ray of sunshine.
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A Snapshot of Our Favorite Light Therapy Lamps
- Verilux HappyLight Lucent ($39.99, Best Buy)
- Merkury Innovations Revive Light Therapy Lamp ($34.88, Walmart)
- Vawn Novelty Lamp ($29.99, Wayfair)
Verilux® HappyLight® Lucent
This best-selling sunlamp ($39.99, Best Buy) is portable so you can take a bit of sunshine on the go. It provides 10,000 lux bright light that is evenly distributed across 72 light bulbs, making it flicker-free, glare-free, and preventing hotspots. Just make sure you don’t look directly at the bulbs and that you keep the lamp in a secure spot so it doesn’t get knocked down.
Merkury Innovations Revive Light Therapy Lamp
This portable lamp ($34.88, Walmart) uses a USB charger so you can plug it in almost anywhere. Additionally, you can set an auto-off timer for 15-minute increments up to an hour to save electricity. And you can adjust the brightness to anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 lux.
Vawn Novelty Lamp
This sunlamp ($29.99, Wayfair) has some nice safety functions that make it a solid choice for families that need a little sunshine. Its sturdy base makes it harder to topple over, preventing accidents. You can also set timers in 10-minute increments up to one hour. The lamp resists hotspots so nobody gets burnt. Even better, it’s 33% off of its original price.
Best Light Therapy Alarm Clocks
Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
This sunlamp and alarm combo ($39.98, Amazon) can help you wake up easier on dark winter mornings. The sunlamp gradually brightens starting 30 minutes before your selected wake-up time just like a sunrise! It also has an FM radio, seven alarm sounds, and seven different light settings. Plus, it’s on sale now for 33% off the original price, and you can save an extra 5% with the Amazon coupon on the product listing.
Sunrise Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine
This Bluetooth clock ($59.99, Ulta) has a gradual sunrise function to help you wake up naturally. It also has a USB charging port for your phone, 15 different nature sounds, and a white noise function for maximum relaxation. Watch this one closely, as we’ve seen it go for as low as $47.99.
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LOMI Sunrise Alarm Clock
With a marble-patterned design, this alarm ($99.99, Belk) features a USB charging port and multiple light modes. It also has an LED display that shows the date, time, and indoor temperature. As part of Belk’s doorbuster Black Friday deals, it’s on sale for $24.99 — that’s 75% off!
For fans of the finer things in life, this multipurpose sunlamp and sleep machine ($129.99 Hatch) is a bit of a splurge, but it’s worth it. The product has a programmable morning and nighttime routine function with features like a sunrise alarm, a sound machine, a blue light-free reading lamp, a meditation function, and a compatible app for your smartphone. It’s perfect for tech junkies and folks who want to have a smart everything.
SAD Light Therapy Light Bulbs
SunNorbSMILE Full-Spectrum “Sunlike” Premium A19 LED Light Bulb
Sunny days aren’t far away with this light bulb ($19.95, Amazon) that mimics sunshine with a full-spectrum LED. It functions a bit differently from a standard sunlamp since it’s meant for everyday use, but the bulb still makes a room feel bright and sunny.
WhitePoplar LED Full Spectrum Light Bulb
Turn any fixture into a sunlamp with this light bulb ($19.99, Amazon). The light is bright and white, similar to sunshine, and can help regulate circadian rhythm. Just be sure to turn off the light at least two hours before bed so you can fall asleep easily. Plus, if you buy four bulbs, you can get 5% off.