Seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues, affects many people every year. There is evidence that this seasonal depression is caused, or made worse by, the lack of natural light during the winter months. Many sufferers find they want to sleep all the time and yet still feel fatigued, negative thoughts and overeating are also common symptoms.

Our sleeping, waking and eating cycle is regulated by daylight. During the winter the daylight hours are shorter, disrupting our bodies natural rhythms. This can result in over tiredness and depression.[2]


How Does Light Therapy Work?

The lack of sunlight during the winter months can cause an increase in melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone which causes tiredness, telling the brain that the body needs to rest.  Levels of serotonin are reduced which can lower your mood and cause depression.[1]

Light therapy treatment involves sitting near a daylight simulator for 15 minutes to 45 minutes each day.  The time will vary depending on the severity of depression.  You should not look directly into the light, but sit a few feet away from it. Make sure that you use the treatment at the same time each day, although you should not use the therapy lamp before you go to bed, as you may have trouble sleeping.

Many users of these lamps have reported an increase in their energy levels and mood after regular treatment.

Light Therapy Lamps

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp
Amazon Price: $139.99 $64.45 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 9, 2014)
This prescription strength sad light therapy lamp from Nature Bright will help to lift your mood and combat the effects of SAD. It can also help with sleep problems and fatigue by regulating your body's natural rhythms and cycles.
You can easily set your treatment time using the built in timer, many people have felt great results from sitting by the light for 30 minutes each day.
The light box is 11x9x15 inches making it portable, yet large enough to have the desired effect.
The built in negative ionizer purifies the air during your treatment, leaving you relaxed and refreshed. This feature can be turned off easily if you do not wish to use it every time.
Lightphoria 10,000LUX Energy Light Lamp
Amazon Price: $65.00 $59.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 9, 2014)
This small and compact SAD light therapy lamp is perfectly portable at 6x6.5x1 inches and 15.8 ounces and comes with its own travel pouch. This lamp is small enough to fit on your desk at work or take on trips, yet strong enough to alleviate symptoms of SAD, depression and tiredness from using it for just 20 to 30 minutes each day.
It has a back stand for ease of use, changeable intensity levels and a built in timer allowing you to set your preferred treatment times.

Dawn Simulator

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, White
Amazon Price: $99.99 $59.49 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 9, 2014)
Whilst a dawn simulator is not a therapy lamp, they have proven to be effective at treating the sleep problems which are common for sufferers of SAD.
Many people find getting up on dark mornings a struggle. The alarm clock can be a shock to the system when your mind is telling you it's the middle of the night. Those who work shifts may also find the Phillips Wake up Light beneficial as it provides a more natural way of waking up.
This great lamp works as an alarm, which turns on slowly and gradually gets brighter over 30 minutes, simulating sunrise. You can alter the light intensity to your own needs giving yourself more or less time to wake up.
By waking up gradually, you will feel refreshed and relaxed in the morning, ready to face the day ahead.
It also has a radio alarm which turns on at the end of the light cycle, gradually increasing to your desired volume. Other noise options include a beeping noise and birdsong. The lamp and radio can be used separately and the different lamp intensity settings make it an ideal bedside light both for reading and gentle illumination.

If you suffer from epilepsy or bi-polar disorder, or if you are taking prescription drugs for depression, you should consult your doctor before using light therapy treatment.