These specially designed fixtures mimic natural sunlight to combat SAD and brighten up winter days.
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With its dreary combination of short days and cold nights, winter can take a toll on your mental health. If you start to feel down as the seasons shift, you might be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that typically begins in late fall or early winter and clears up when sunnier days arrive in the spring.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition can cause moodiness, low energy, sleep problems, changes in your appetite or weight, and more. Although the specific causes aren't quite known, SAD is often linked to your biological clock, which dictates processes like your sleep-wake cycle. Lower levels of sunlight in the fall and winter can disrupt your body's internal rhythms, leading to feelings of depression. It's estimated that millions of Americans suffer from SAD each year, though many might not recognize it. If you think you might be affected, first talk to your doctor to see what they recommend. In many cases, light therapy is an effective solution you can try at home.

woman reading with therapy light
Credit: B. Boissonnet/Getty Images

Light therapy involves sitting in front of a specially designed light box each day for a certain period of time, usually between 15 minutes and an hour, to make up for a lack of natural sunlight. Although they typically provide bright, full-spectrum light that mimics that of the sun, light therapy lamps don't emit any harmful UV rays, so the treatment is generally safe for most people. It's also easy to incorporate into your day, as you can set the light on your desk while working or on the kitchen counter as you prep breakfast. Remember that you should be facing toward the light but not looking directly into it to avoid damage to your eyes.

If you're interested in trying this at-home remedy, the Mayo Clinic recommends a fixture that provides at least 10,000 lux (a unit that measures the total amount of light that falls on a surface) of UV-free light. These bestselling light therapy lamps can help ease the symptoms of SAD and brighten up your winter days.

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Best Overall: Erligpowht Light Therapy Lamp

$22 (was $30), Amazon

Amazon's bestselling light therapy lamp features 10,000-lux brightness and three modes so you can adjust the intensity to your preferences. Set a timer between 15 and 60 minutes and it'll automatically shut off when your session is up. The slim design can be tilted in various directions to find the angle that works best for you. One five-star reviewer writes, "I turn it on when I hit snooze in the morning and I feel much more ready to get out of bed 10 minutes later."

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Best for Desktop Use: Verilux HappyLight Lucent Light Therapy Lamp

$45, Bed Bath & Beyond

This light therapy lamp uses bright white, 10,000-lux LED bulbs to boost your mood, enhance focus, and regulate sleeping patterns. The 8.5x6.5-inch light plugs into a standard outlet and can be positioned horizontally or vertically as needed. It includes a detachable stand that stores flat so you can easily take it on the go.

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Most Portable: Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp

$50, Amazon

This light therapy lamp measures just 3.5 inches wide and features a hinged, rotating design that can be positioned in several different ways. The slim panel works well on a desk or nightstand where space is limited. Its pure white light offers 10,000 lux of brightness and mimics the color temperature of the mid-day sun with three adjustable brightness levels.

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Most Stylish: Sunrise Sensations BrightBox Light Therapy Lamp

$110, Amazon

This 10,000-lux light therapy lamp features a stylish wood frame that blends in more discreetly with your decor. The remote control allows you to toggle through pre-programmed settings that mimic the sun at different times of the day or customize the color and brightness yourself. The 13-inch square frame is crafted from solid hardwood and sits on an angled stand.

Best Compact: Verilux Happy Light Compact Portable Bright Therapy Lamp

$40, Target

Smaller than most light therapy boxes, this compact device is ideal for slipping inside a bag or suitcase if you need to take your daily dose of sunlight with you. It measures just over 7 inches tall but offers 20 square inches of 10,000-lux light. The lamp stands on its own and is operated by a simple on/off switch.

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Most Practical: Lastar Light Therapy Lamp

$28, Amazon

A sleek, no-frills design makes this light therapy lamp both stylish and easy to operate. The round lamp measures about 5 inches across, so it won't take up too much space on your desk, vanity, or nightstand. Simple touch controls allow you to turn it on or off and adjust the brightness between 20% and 100%.

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Best Floor Lamp: Northern Light Technologies Flamingo Light Therapy Floor Lamp

$230, Amazon

This light therapy floor lamp can aim light downward, instead of shining it up toward your face, to more closely mimic real sunlight. It sits on a 4-foot-tall stand and features a large, adjustable screen that lets you customize the angle. Writing of their struggles to get out of bed in the morning, one five-star reviewer notes that after using this lamp, "the difference was instant and astounding."

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Best Splurge: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp

$130, Amazon

With a wide, 16x13-inch screen, this therapy lamp provides a broad field of glare-free, 10,000-lux light. It features two brightness settings, designed for light therapy and task lighting, and an adjustable stand that lets you tailor the height and angle to your needs. One reviewer writes that this lamp "saved my life and marriage" after having dealt with seasonal affective disorder for the last 10 years.

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