Please help me choose a SAD lamp.
November 22, 2011 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I think I'm prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, and would like to try a light box this winter to avoid the blues. Which one should I buy?

I'm in London, and would prefer to buy online if possible. There are a few SAD lamps on Amazon, and some of the smaller, cheaper ones like this have quite good reviews. Can I get away with spending less, or will I regret not plonking down a hundred quid on this?

I do notice that the product description for the smaller lamp doesn't mention how powerful it is. Would I be better off with something like this 10k LUX one?

Bonus question: How hard is it to get replacement bulbs for these things?

(I have read all the previous SAD lamp posts, but none of them answered my question.)

Thanks for your help!
posted by hot soup girl to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
You want the second variety. A light that mimics natural sunlight as closely as possible will have the best results, at least for me. The one I use cost about $200 USD and is supposedly nearly identical to sunlight but with much reduced UV (and I notice it too--it doesn't look like any other lights or lamps that I've seen). I've had mine for about a year and a half and have not needed to replace any bulbs yet. I use it for about 20 minutes a day in the early evenings as the instructions say and although it isn't a magic cure, I do notice a positive difference with it.
posted by Lobster Garden at 7:17 PM on November 22, 2011

According to this study, narrow-bandwidth blue LEDs are actually quite effective at treating SAD. I am still in the market myself, but I have been reading a lot of good reviews of the Philips GoLite Blu.
posted by dialetheia at 7:27 PM on November 22, 2011

I've got one of these LED models and I'm very happy with it. If I do more than my usual 15-minute dose I get really wired; I can vouch that it has a strong effect on me.
posted by bink at 8:01 PM on November 22, 2011

Can't comment on on the lamps because I have not used one. But as another option would an old used photographers light table also do the trick? The lights are usually daylight bulbs at daylight temperatures and seeing as most photographers have switched to digital you may find light tables cheap on ebay or craigslist. Just an idea.

Link to light boxes on ebay
posted by WickedPissah at 8:23 PM on November 22, 2011

These two recent threads have a few suggestions:

- What brand of light therapy do you recommend?

- Light box (and other) recommendations for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Here's my comment from the first one:
I got mine from the same company as kanata, just a different version - the Day-Light Sky. From the ridiculous amounts of (slightly obsessive) research I did, it seemed important (for max chance of max benefit) for the following things to be true:
- large field of light. Many small lights, like the little Philips blue ones, have such a small "target" field that if your head moves out of it, you're not getting the same benefit.
- the light has to enter your eyes from ABOVE your eyes. It cannot be on the desk, shining up at your face. There is something about the angle of light entering your eyes from slightly above your eyes. Think about where the sun is, on a sunny morning or evening, in relation to your eyes. It's above, angling down into your eyes.
- some people think the blue LEDs work fine. Some think they work better. It seems like there might be a slightly higher chance of eye issues with narrow-spectrum blue lighting, but I don't have time to bring up the number of studies. It might be a negligible situation, but I have some family history of eye disease and wanted to avoid if possible. Some people still think the white lights work better.

This Day-light Sky seemed to have the backing of a number of researchers and a few associations. Again, it's not a bullet-proof recommendation, and certainly tons of people get benefits from other devices. That's just how I made my own decision. I'm super happy with it.

30 minutes a day, in the morning. I sometimes sit under it for a while at lunch too. Get the light shining down into your eyes.
posted by barnone at 9:19 PM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

A very inexpensive alternative is 2 pairs of fluorescent grow lamps from a nursery. You want these instead of the "full spectrum" tubes sold at Home Depot. They actually have the sun's natural range. You can then get a cheap shop fixture at HD for less than $30.

Put the tubes in the fixture. Hang the fixture from the ceiling. Plug it into a outlet timer. Set it to switch on when you're at home. You're talking $60, tops.

Bonus of you have a fluorescent fixture(s) in your home already. Just replace those bulbs with the grow lamps. Take the covers off if necessary.

I used these when I lived in the Midwest. It was bliss.

I had a coworker with an expensive desk-style lamp specifically for SAD. It was blindingly bright. She could only use it when sitting in one specific chair. When I tried it I didn't feel anywhere near as good as when I was under the friendly glow of the grow lights.
posted by clarknova at 9:25 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions.

To narrow my question down a bit: can anyone recommend a specific light box that costs (preferably) under £100 and is available online via a UK website?
posted by hot soup girl at 10:52 PM on November 22, 2011

I'm in London too and am a lady also prone to SAD. When I talked about wanting to buy a light box, a friend of mine suggested that before I make my purchase I should go to NHS and inquire about the possibility of them paying for it. Seems a friend of a friend had her therapy stuff paid for that way. Have you looked at light boxes through this avenue?

Good luck!
posted by _superconductor at 7:26 AM on November 23, 2011

Nothing wrong with LEDs. I have a Philips GOlite, and it's pretty effective. To make it even better, it's got an effectiveness guarantee. Or it did when I bought mine in the US.
posted by piedmont at 8:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for your help, everyone—I really appreciate your suggestions. I ended up getting a 10k LUX lamp on sale at Maplins for £40. (I keep hearing good things about the Philips GOlite, but they seem to be priced close to £200 in the UK.) I also got a 'daylight' BioBulb to use in my desk lamp. These, plus the massive bottle of vitamin D I picked up on my last trip to the US, should hopefully keep me sane this winter.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:00 AM on November 29, 2011

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