Do SAD Lamps Work?
Wednesday, 11 December 2019 | Olivia
The cold, dark and wet of winter can put all of us in a bad mood now and again, but many people don't realise they're actually suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Daylight simulation lamps are skyrocketing in popularity as a method of treating the condition, but do they really work?
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, is a form of depression that is linked to seasonal changes. It results in feelings of misery and exhaustion that begin in autumn or winter and then alleviate later in the year. It is theorised that it may be caused by a drop in serotonin levels, a disrupted internal clock or disrupted melatonin levels, which play a role in both mood and sleep patterns.
Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?
It can be difficult to tell if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or if it is non-seasonal depression. Many of the symptoms are the same, for instance listlessness, insomnia and sadness. Here are some questions to figure out if it's directly related to winter:
If the answer to all of these four questions is yes, then you might be suffering from SAD.
What Can Treat SAD?
There are a variety of different ways it is recommended you treat SAD, including getting more daylight, exercising regularly, or socialising more. However, all these three are exactly the sort of thing that it becomes difficult to do when you suffer from the condition. Vitamin D rich foods or supplements are a low-effort solution, but one of the most popular answers is using a daylight lamp.
Why Would Daylight Lamps Make a Difference?
The disrupted serotonin and melatonin levels associated with SAD are both correlated to lack of sunlight, which is why it occurs in the winter. Daylight lamps aim to supplement this lack of sunlight, thereby stabilising your sleep patterns and raising your serotonin levels.
Do Daylight Lamps Actually Help SAD?
Daylight lamps have been used since the 1980s, especially in Sweden where the sun sets at 3pm during January. A 2010 study shows that exposure to light treatment improves symptoms of depression in patients after even a short period of treatment. Light therapy is becoming an increasingly popular way of treating the often un-diagnosed condition.
What Are Lux?
The intensity of light therapy is recorded in Lux. The un-obscured sun has an illumination of 100 kilolux on the earth's surface, and direct sunlight is approximately 32,000 to 10,000 lux. Full-sun plants typically need 25,000 to 50,000 lux to thrive.
Which Are the Best SAD Lamps?
For SAD therapy the usual recommendation is to use a 10,000 lux light box 40 - 60cm from your face. Following are some effective SAD lamps which will fit easily into your everyday life.
The Beurer TL50 Compact Daylight Lamp for SAD
The Beurer TL50 Compact Daylight Lamp for SAD is a great place to start with light therapy. It's small compact, but still provides 10,000 lux from a distance of 15cm. The stylish round shape means it's almost like your own personal sun.
Key Feature: Even flicker-free light for stress-free use
Beurer TL90 Floorstanding Daylight Lamp for SAD
The Beurer TL90 Floorstanding Daylight Lamp for SAD is a little larger, and can be adjusted to point sunlight in whatever direction you like. The large illuminated surface allows for a diffuse and even light over your whole body.
Key Feature: Different treatment time indicators depending on how far away you are from the device
Beurer TL30 Portable Daylight Lamp
The Beurer TL30 Portable Daylight Lamp is smaller than an average tablet, and can be carried with you over your busy day. It features a lime green stand so you can prop it up on any surface, allowing you to fight SAD wherever you are.
Key Feature: Small enough to be carried with you wherever you go
What Are Dusk and Dawn Simulators?
Some SAD lamps come with the capability of mimicking dusk and dawn light. During the winter we often have to get up and start our day before it's light outside, which can disrupt our sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, resulting in SAD. By simulating dawn and dusk these SAD lamps help your body get back into a healthy and natural sleep cycle.
Beurer TL55 Day and Night Daylight Therapy Lamp
The Beurer TL55 Day and Night Daylight Therapy Lamp is small enough to rest easily on your bedside table. During the day it mimics natural outdoor light, and last thing at night it projects thirty minutes of weakening red light, recreating a sunset. The red light act on the retina and nervous system, calming both your body and mind.
Key Feature: Battery powered for maximum portability, so it doesn't always have to be plugged in
Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30
The Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30 also features a sunset and sunrise function, as well as an alarm clock. The slowly brightening lamp is a cue for your body to reduce the production of sleep hormone melatonin, and increase production of waking hormone, cortisol.
Key Feature: Alarm clock that wakes you with a simulated sunrise