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A few of you have expressed interest in a review of my much-needed Seasonal Affective Disorder light. Now that I’ve been using it for a little bit, I’m happy to oblige.
Choosing a lamp
After some deliberation, I chose the NatureBright SunTouch lamp. It has an additional feature for ion emission, which is supposed to be calming or… something. I haven’t tried that function because it’s really not my cup of tea. I just need the light.
At $39.99, it’s definitely not the cheapest model, though it’s far from the most expensive. I chose it because it was the best- and most-reviewed lamp on Amazon.
But if you can’t afford $39.99 right now, there are plenty of other, cheaper lights that were had many positive reviews. The main things to look for are:
- It’s specifically made to help with SAD
- It puts out at least 10,000 lux
- It puts out non-UV light.
It’s also best to check how close you’re supposed to be to the lamp. There are some that want you within a few inches, which could be difficult to manage (not to mention hard on your eyes).
The more standard range is about 12- to 16-inches away from your face. Yes, that’s still relatively close, but it’s better than 6- to 8-inches which was what a few lights called for.
Using the lamp
Do not put the lamp directly in front of you. It should be on the side so that you’re not staring directly at it.
According to all the literature it’s best to use the lamp first thing in the morning. I think that’s less about overall efficacy and more about the fact that people with SAD can have more grogginess. Sitting in front of the light tends to help you feel more awake, which should make it easier (and safer) to get yourself to work.
You should start using the light in smaller increments. Allegedly, 15 minutes is enough to get benefits. I allow 30 minutes just to be safe, but not everyone has that kind of time in the morning. So just keep it on while you eat breakfast/read the paper/scroll through social media. Or set it up at your desk at work — assuming you won’t be blinding your colleagues.
So far I’m very happy with the light. I can definitely tell the difference.
It’s not that it’s made mornings easy,but they’re definitely easier. I think being up two to three hours before sunrise is always going to be hard on my system, but the light helps me feel more alert despite the darkness.
More importantly, I don’t feel quite so helpless in the face of… Well, everything.
The idea of errands doesn’t make me want to cry. I’m able to run anywhere from one to three a day without feeling like it’s the end of the world.
Junk food cravings aren’t as overwhelming. That’s not to say I’m eating terribly healthily. But that’s more about laziness than helplessness. Which is a huge difference, even if it doesn’t sound like it.
I’ve even been exercising a bit. In the past 10 days, I’ve done squats and lunges three times, dumbbells twice and a walking video twice. Before I got the light, just the idea of exercise made me want to cry. Now it only makes me want to cry while I’m doing it.
I can’t promise that a SAD light will make you exercise or cure you of chocolate cravings. But I can say that the NatureBright SunTouch has done wonders for me. If you struggle with seasonal depression, I’d urge you to look into a light therapy lamp for yourself.
Have you ever used a SAD light?