Do Sun Lamps Actually Help With Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It's no secret that the wintertime involves a lowered level of sunlight. As humans, we need certain rays of light to function properly. The amount of light we're absorbing on a daily basis regulates everything from digestion to hormone regulation and sleep quality. To combat the fatigue, mood swings, and lethargy that many experience during the winter, happy lights have arisen as a worthy antidote. If you're suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), adding a sun lamp to your space may be a good idea.

Without enough light, your body may struggle to distinguish night from day time. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sun lamps help regulate this issue. Robert Cain, MD, tells the outlet, "Long periods of dark and a lack of sun exposure gets your sleep-wake rhythm thrown off and sun lamps help reset it."

Aiding in hormone production, happy lights regulate important molecules like melatonin and serotonin, the outlet explains. Sun exposure and light both impact these hormones and using a sun lamp can make a big difference in the way that you feel. Mindbodygreen calls light a "no-cost medicine" that you can use to keep yourself feeling happier and healthier.

Make sure you get light at the right time of the day

Just like with natural light, it's important to absorb various rays at different times of the day when you're using a sun lamp. Getting some rays first thing in the morning can help regulate various processes as you wake up, Mindbodygreen explains. Author Max Lugevere tells the outlet that, "Getting bright light in your eyes in the morning puts the brakes on melatonin release, and it's been shown to boost serotonin in the brain, which is involved in having a healthy mood and cognitive function."

This is why sun lamp therapy is most potent when used in the mornings for 10-15 minutes, Prevention notes. The outlet suggests making your way up to 30 minutes each morning and keeping the light a few inches from your face. Too much light exposure can throw off your circadian rhythm, causing the opposite effect by making people feel overly energized. So, stick with morning sessions in front of your happy light and see how you feel after a week or so.

When it comes to purchasing your sun lamp, it's important to be discerning. Gail Saltz, MD, tells the outlet that, "There are a lot of things marketed as light boxes that actually aren't light therapy, so don't just buy any old light box. Light boxes for SAD will contain a specific grouping of UVB white lights that shine at a very high intensity." Humans need light, so make sure you're getting enough of it all winter-long.