Light box model recommendations for seasonal affective disorder?
February 21, 2008 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in purchasing a light box to help combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD); can anyone recommend (or warn against) specific models that they (or someone they know) have used?
posted by korpios to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
The Litebook Elite works for me. Way easier to work with than the big old boxes of fluorescent tubes.
posted by scruss at 11:44 AM on February 21, 2008

I have the (cheaper!) earlier model of this -- I don't believe their new "blue" portable model still has the sunrise alarm feature that mine does (for that you'd need something like this), but I've had it for several years, and it's served me very well. I also like the smaller form factor -- it fits neatly on my bedside table.

I primarily use the sunrise function to help get me up in the mornings without agony, but in the winter I also use it as simple light therapy. I'll lie facing the light for 15-20 minutes after the dawn simulator's reached full brightness. When I do this, I've found it extremely beneficial. I will note that for the first few days of light therapy (rather than just the usual waking up by the dawn simulator), I'm a little hyper and irritable, and my sleep is unsettled (I wake up in the middle of the night). After a couple of days, it settles down, and I just feel better, but it's something to be aware of if you're new to light therapy.
posted by tigerbelly at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2008

I have a Lumie desk lamp, which also doubles as my bedside table light. Maybe not as bright as a proper lightbox, but quite practical, and does seem to help.

I also use BioBulbs for decent full spectrum lighting around the house; much better than the sickly yellow you get from incandescents.
posted by Freaky at 12:37 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: I have two lamps at home, a desk model (for my computer room) and a floor model (for the living room).
The better of the two is the floor model... it's dimmable, so you can use it as a normal reading light when you aren't cranked to the max, and blasting the S.A.D. out of you.
My thinking was that I wanted something that would be there all the time, as opposed to something I would have to set up on a table in front of me, like an old-school light box.
I blast it every morning for about 20 minutes (YMMV) while playing some video games before work.
Seemed like a good cheer-me-up double bill... and it's served me quite well.
posted by Tbola at 12:39 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

I got the goLite blue light from Costco for about $160

It's about the cheapest one that I saw around. There are ones with more features, and bigger models, but I found it was pretty effective in making me wake up. Also available in Canada.
posted by so_ at 1:05 PM on February 21, 2008

I've been using an early version of the Verilux HappyLite for about three years. I like its sleek design and the fact that it can stand on my desk or hang on the wall. It seems well made, I haven't noticed any flicker, and I haven't had to change the bulbs yet.

For what it's worth, in addition to bright light therapy in the morning, it seems to help me to have what I call Dark Time at night. This means no staring at the computer after 10 and dimming the room lights significantly. If I do that for about an hour before bedtime, I seem to sleep better.
posted by PatoPata at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

i had one. just a caveat--don't overdo it. really, don't. it made me hyper. it was bizarre.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:24 PM on February 21, 2008

Apparently, if you have any tendency at all to bipolar (there's lots of people who have what's called bipolar 2, where you don't have full on mania alternating with depression, but rather depression alternating with occasional hypomania) use the light mid-day. apparently, this avoids that hyper effect (which I definitely got too!).
posted by Maias at 2:42 PM on February 21, 2008

I own both a HappyLite (like PatoPata's) and a Verilux floor lamp (like Tbola's). I've owned the HappyLite for maybe five years and the Verilux for about two and both have been fine for me. And though you won't need to buy a replacement bulb for a long time, when you do, stay with ordering them from a big company like or similar. They send their lightbulbs quickly and in HUGE amounts of packaging. I thought that was all very silly until I tried ordering a replacement bulb from a third-party seller on (The package was VERY delayed, the bulb had been jammed into a too-small Priority Mail box and was actually pulverized when I got it, etc.) My future business will go to an actual lightbox-selling company.
posted by oldtimey at 6:19 PM on February 21, 2008

I use a blue light box from Apollo Health to keep my SAD (and night owl tendencies) in check. IANAD, but my dad is, and seems the research behind this particular product is solid.

Both he and I have had success using the unobtrusive Golite for about 15 minutes each morning. That and Jura cappuccino makers.
posted by pearl228 at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: I have one of these. The 70W version. This is the same one Tbola linked to.

I've tried others, including the LED ones, and they're all toys by comparison to the Bluemax desk lamp. This thing is insanely bright (and dimmable, which is rare for fluorescents.)

Along with light therapy, I use it as a high-intensity desk lamp for drawing and electronics work and as a light tent lamp for photography.

I'm going to buy a floor lamp version too.

Full Spectrum Solutions (the linked site) has good service - they sent me the wrong lamp the first time, but quickly shipped a new one when they were informed of the issue.
posted by mmoncur at 11:25 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I went with the BlueMax 70w desk lamp from Full Spectrum Solutions. I've been happy (ha!) with it so far. ^_^
posted by korpios at 12:35 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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