Beyond Depression – Therapy Lights

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Starting out as large, expensive boxes, therapy lights have come a long way. Historically used for seasonal depression due to diminishing sunlight in winter, they generally improve mood, boost energy, and reduce anxiety for all. Ranging from compact to floor lamp, therapy lights are about to become your new best friend.

How Therapy Lights Work

Therapy lights simulate sunlight boosting production of Vitamin D.  Natural sunlight is a mixture of three bands of ultraviolet (UV) light – A, B, and C.  Therapy lights use UVB light, filtering out harmful UVA rays.  UVB rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for valuable Vitamin D production.  In contrast, tanning beds use mostly UVA rays, cooking the top layer of melanin in the skin.  Many people try tanning in the winter to boost mood but studies show this is not only ineffective but increases the chance of skin cancer.

How effective are therapy lights, really?

A recent study by Northwestern University found that bright light therapy used at midday for six weeks showed a remarkable improvement in depression and bipolar symptoms.  More than 68% of participants achieved a normal level of mood.  They also experienced an increase in daily functioning allowing them to go back to work and complete tasks around the house.

Did you know?

The sunshine vitamin - Vitamin D - is essential for health. Therapy lights use UVB rays that penetrate deeply into the skin and increase production of Vitamin D3.

Fun Fact

Therapy lights are 2.4 times more effective at producing D3 than natural sunlight.

Applications Beyond Depression

Research suggestions therapy lights may help with a wide variety of medical issues.  Recent discovery has found the following conditions could benefit:

Using a therapy light correctly

To get the maximum benefit from a therapy light, it is recommended you work up to consistently using it 20-30 minutes a day.  Position the light at eye level or above and approximately two feet away (mimicking natural sunlight).  Keep it slightly turned and do not look directly into it to minimize eye strain.  A therapy light emitting 10,000 lux is important to feel results.

Stylish and unique, this therapy lamp from the Circadian Optics Designer Series blends into the decor of the room. Standing a mere 15.8” tall with a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright, it gets the job done with a mighty 10,000 lux brightness. Don’t worry if it’s too bright for you – it has multiple settings for dimming.

As the Cadillac of therapy lights, this one surely multitasks. Not only is it a therapy light that simulates sunlight, it also acts as an alarm clock and background sounds maker. The RelaxBreathe guide is practically a guided meditation, gently lulling you to sleep. Using the Smart Touch Display, you can wake gradually to a variety of soothing sounds. One other characteristic separates it from the pack. Most therapy light emit a strong white light where the Phillips stays closer to the real thing with both a sunrise and sunset simulation with bright yellow, warm orange, soft red.

Fun fact: Therapy lights can charge outdoor solar lights and increase house plant growth!

This is your solid, yet stylish middle of the road therapy light. It’s actually the one we have at home. Limited by only one setting for the light, it makes up for it with a cheeky green stand. I’ve put this on around the house and everyone is already feeling more cheery this winter. Confession: I lay in front of this after a shower and I swear I get the same relaxed feeling as on the beach. Something just relaxes in me.

As far as budget light go, this one is a winner. Lacking some of the fancier features as with the Phillips, this lamp is still a strong 10,000 lux brightness. Take it with you on the road; it’s your travel buddy.


An alternative to a device, the full spectrum light bulb fits in a regular lamp socket.  Use in tandem with a standalone light or on it’s own.  Though not as strong as therapy lights, it makes an impact on mood and can be used continuously.

On a side note, researching this article, I ran across a brand that clearly had “Char” in its name. It made me giggle. Seems ironic to name a sunlight simulating lamp after the detrimental effects of the sun!

Also published on Medium.

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One Response to " Beyond Depression – Therapy Lights "

  1. I have a light box that I use in the morning. It has helped so much over the last two years during the winter months.

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