Seasonal Affective Disorder can be experienced by anyone at any time of year, but its effects are generally felt more during the colder, darker months of the year. The reduced number of daylight hours and the lack of sunshine can have a severe effect on your energy and mood. This is why you need the best SAD lamps to help lift your spirits and improve your general sense of wellbeing. The light produced by SAD lamps is designed to simulate the sunlight that's missing during the gloomy seasons of the year.
What causes SAD?
The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is not yet fully understood, but it is often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight, which is why people tend to experience SAD more during autumn and winter when the days are shorter.
The main theory is that the lack of sunlight stops a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly, affecting the production of melatonin and serotonin and the function of your body's internal clock.
People with SAD may have higher levels of melatonin so they'll feel more sleepy and lower serotonin levels which are linked to feelings of depression.
It is also possible that you may be more vulnerable to experiencing SAD as a result of your genes as some cases appear to run in families.
How to tell if you might be experiencing SAD
The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression, which the NHS lists as the following:
• Persistent low mood
• Loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
• Feeling irritable
• Experiencing feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
• Low self-esteem
• Feeling stressed or anxious
• Reduced sex drive
• Becoming less sociable
In addition to these symptoms, you may experience some of the below if you have SAD:
• Be less active than normal
• Feel lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
• Sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
• Find it difficult to concentrate
• Have an increased appetite – some people have a particular craving for foods containing lots of carbohydrates and end up gaining weight as a result
Best SAD lamps to relieve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Experiencing light therapy from a SAD lamp for between 30 minutes and one hour a day is thought to improve SAD by encouraging your brain to reduce the amount of melatonin your body is making and increase the production of serotonin instead. If you want to give it a go for yourself or know someone who would appreciate a lamp as a gift, we've rounded up all the best SAD lamps below.
Best SAD alarm clock
Wake up gently for the day ahead using this alarm. It slowly brightens 30 minutes before your
- Five optional wake-up sounds or a beep
- Has light settings for reading, sunset, and sunrise
- Some reviewers felt that the light was too bright on the lowest setting
With a press of a button, this UV-free light will shine at an intensity of 10,000 lux, designed to
- Energy-saving LED technology
- Easy to operate
- Some reviewers felt it was pricey
Best slim SAD lamp
The slim design and relatively large screen make the Vitamin L as convenient as it is powerful.
- Can be sat in portrait or landscape position
- Portable and lightweight
- Some reviewers were expecting it to be bigger
Recommended SAD lamp
Combat symptoms of SAD with this neat and compact lamp. It will sit discreetly on any desk or
- UV-free and flicker-free light
- Comes with a clip-on stand
- Some reviewers mentioned the light is too bright when first turned on
Nicely designed SAD lamp
This lamp will beautifully blend in with your home décor. It's got three light modes so you can
- Three different light settings
- Adjustable brightness
- Some people may not like the plastic look of the lamp
One for crystal lovers, this lamp will certainly add warmth to your home while offering you some
- Has a dimmer feature
- Dispatches from the United States so may take longer to arrive
7. Lumie Halo
Modern SAD lamp
We love the sleek and stylish look of this black and copper SAD lamp. The adjustable brightness
- Helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle
- Has day and evening modes
- An expensive option
Featuring 10-stage dimming and a four-stage timer, this light will supplement your daily intake of
- Helps you to achieve the recommended daily dose of light
- Has many adjustable settings
- No reviews yet
Best SAD lamps FAQs
Does light therapy work to treat SAD?
Although there's mixed evidence on how effective light therapy is to treat SAD, there are some studies that have shown that using a SAD lamp first thing in the morning can help lessen the effects. Most people using a SAD lamp noticed an improvement in their symptoms within a week or so. Light therapy lamps are designed to produce a short-term result, so although you may feel relief, it won't cure your SAD so you can still be affected by it in the future.
How can you treat SAD?
As well as using a SAD lamp, there are other things you can do to relieve SAD symptoms at home.
• Try to get as much natural sunlight as possible
• Ensure your home environments are light and airy
• Sit near windows when you're indoors
• Enjoy regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet
• Take steps to manage stress
If you feel like you need further help to manage your symptoms, we would recommend speaking to your GP. They will be able to suggest the most suitable treatment for you, such as psychosocial treatments or prescribing antidepressants.