Light therapy is often the first line of treatment for those grappling with seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD. But more people are increasingly becoming interested in light therapy to combat the effect that blue light and electronic glare have on sleep routines on dark winter days. What many don't know is that they're already prescribing to elements of modern light therapy, also known as bright light therapy (BLT) to experts — including gravitating towards a sunny window to feel more alert, or heading outside if you're feeling unmotivated or desolate.
Light therapy is rapidly coming into focus for people who grapple with the effects of spending increased time indoors, in front of screens during work hours and away from the natural light that's meant to guide our routines. Experts often extend lighting recommendations as part of clinical treatment for SAD, including a majority of these best light therapy lamps tested in the Good Housekeeping Institute. Chief Technologist and Director of Engineering Rachel Rothman and GH editors coordinated reviews on most of the following products to ensure they met a current 10,000 lux threshold for effective BLT goals. We've marked products that don't meet this specific threshold (which you'll learn about in the FAQ section), but these smaller gadgets may be a great way to experiment with added lighting in your space.
Our top picks
- Best Overall Light Therapy Lamp: Veriliux HappyLight
- Best Value Light Therapy Lamp: Erligpowht Light Therapy Lamp
- Best Design Light Therapy Lamp: Sunrise Sensations DayBright Light Therapy Lamp
- Best Light Bulb: LIFX Dimmable LED Light Bulb
- Best Yellow Light Therapy Lamp: Olly Light Therapy Lamp
- Best White Light Therapy Lamp: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp
- Best Light Therapy Lamp Alarm Clock: Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-up Light
- Best Compact Therapy Lamp: Verilux HappyLight VT10 Compact Personal
- Best Sunrise Simulator: Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
- Best Light Box: Alaska Northern Lights Northstar
- Best Light Therapy Glasses: Re-Timer Portable Light Therapy Glasses
Editor's Note: Be sure to discuss bright light therapy options with your doctor if you suspect you suffer from SAD or a mood disorder. There's little risk in trying light therapy devices at home for most people, but those with pre-existing conditions may have adverse reactions to light boxes, which is why it's crucial to discuss it with a care provider first. For more info on depression and how to get help, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
- Wall-mount friendly
- Easy brightness interface for customizable user experience
- Keeping light at eye level may be difficult
With more than 2,700 5-star reviews from Amazon loyalists, Verilux's freestanding light therapy device is fully equipped with 10,000lux capabilities that are easy to use in any space of your home. While the brand has other products with more customization features in mind, this product is extremely easy to use and requires no assembly — simply plugin and go. The design allows you to prop up your light in close proximity to a workspace while remaining compact for carrying purposes elsewhere.
- Fully customizable brightness settings and timer application
- Can fold flat for easy storage or travel
The timer function on this budget-friendly pick allows you to select from four different time intervals, ranging up to 60 minutes in total. The lightweight lightbox can be dimmed accordingly as it contains multiple brightness settings (between 30% and 100% entirely) for use throughout the day. Plus, the rotatable light bracket means you can pop this onto a crowded surface at work or at school to use alongside computers without sacrificing space.
- Real wood base
- Numerous customizable lighting settings
- High price point compared to other models
This light therapy lamp looks more at home in your space than other utilitarian designs in this guide. It's equipped with the same amount of power as many other gadgets, though: 10,000 LUX. And it can also be adjusted with light color warmth in mind for those who may wish to use it before bed. Tests revealed it can emit light from all of the surfaces in its design, meaning it'll illuminate your surrounding even if you don't sit in front of it, head-on. And while other SAD lamps may be controlled by smartphone apps, this gadget comes with its own remote that makes customizing your light sessions super simple.
- Easily adjustable for eye-level exposure
- Lightbox can be tilted for long-range exposure
- Design makes it a bulky tool in tight spaces
Perfect for a desk in an office, or sitting areas in libraries or classrooms, this desktop gadget is known for its crisp white light. It can emanate 10,000 lux light in two different settings, and users don't need to sit directly in front of the lightbox to feel results, as long as it's situated within a foot of your line of sight. This model is adjustable to the desk of your choice; it can be height adjusted for different lengths, and the box itself can be tilted at the perfect angle for your use. The lamp's two light settings are far from faint, so this device is better suited for full exposure for limited amounts of time — it's far from ambient lighting by any means.
- Simple, tech-free controls for user
- Can easily fit in tight spaces or be transported
- One brightness setting only
This highly reviewed light therapy box is designed to be portable and can be positioned around your home or office throughout the day. The manufacturer touts that this lightbox operates at 10,000 LUX. It lacks multiple functions compared to other light therapy lamps and gadgets on this list, but if you're looking for a low-cost option to test increased light exposure in your space, this Amazon best-seller with 4,000+ 5-Star Reviews will work nicely.
- Reaches 10,000 lux capacity despite size
- Customizable light warmth settings
- Hard to use at eye-level
- Limited battery life at 1.5 hours
Equipped with multiple temperature settings and features like an auto timer, you'll be surprised how this tiny gadget can function well for those tight on space. The petite lamp can be used at two different brightness levels, both of which impact battery life, and ranges from a Day setting (6500K color temperature) to its signature Night option (1800K).
- Philips app offers sleep data tracked in real time
- Can emulate sunlight and bright, white light
- Doesn't operate at 10,000 lux
Tested in native environments by GHI experts, this light therapy alarm clock is one of the most comprehensive options on the market, as it's completely customizable to your surroundings and preferences. While it doesn't operate at a full 10,000 lux, soft ambient lights help regulate your circadian clock with bright sunrise-like light in the morning, and soft, warm hues that feel like sunset at night. Testers appreciate that Philips' mobile app makes it easy to customize alarm clock settings (you won't have to fiddle with any dials or buttons) for bedroom use — but this lamp can also function well in an office or living room setting.
- Can be used to emulate sunset as well
- Dimmable brightness
- Priced higher compared to other SmartSleep models
This alarm clock uses both light and sound to get you out of bed naturally and is also loaded with a sunset simulation to help you wind your day down at bedtime. Rothman is impressed by its backup battery and how customizable it is — everything from brightness to the time display — as well as its one-tap snooze ability. Testers noted that the Philips SmartSleep helps establish a pleasant wake-up experience (a godsend on dark winter mornings!) and shared, on average, they felt more refreshed in their morning routines.
- Voice assistant compatible
- Can range up to 10,000 lux
- Complex installation compared to other products on this list
LifX's bulbs will work with any floor lamp or fixture you already own, and they're WiFi-connected and enabled, which means you won't need a dedicated smart home hub to control them. The bulb is adjusted with mobile apps and home ecosystems like Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Alexa; it can rotate between colors and brightness of your choice. Given its capability range, these bulbs are better suited for light exposure at times beyond waking up and heading to bed, and fit well into living spaces. In lab tests, Rothman notes that experts felt that setup wasn't as intuitive as other devices on this list.
- Strongest light output in this category
- High price point
- Isn't a fit for small or shared spaces
With the ability to project strong steady light up to 24 inches away, this larger box can be a great solution for an office or a larger space where access to light is limited. As it already comes equipped with specialized light fixtures and a glare filter out of the box, users can simply plug in and flip a switch to get started. The Northstar is also has a carrying handle and is designed to be used vertically or horizontally for maximum effectiveness. In test environments, it's increased surface leads to plenty of light — you'll be bathed from head to midriff in strong glare-free light if it's positioned in front of a desk or a sitting area of your choice. Because of its sheer size, though, it's not for compact spaces, and may become too bright (or overbearing!) if closer than 8 inches to your face directly.
- Highly transportable
- Can be used wirelessly
- Comfort may be sacrificed due to standardized fit
Tested extensively by GHI experts, this light therapy gadget is best suited for those who might be working in a multitude of spaces throughout the day — travelers especially — since these glasses expose wearers' to enhanced green light in any setting. The manufacturer recommends users' wear the glasses first thing in the morning, typically for an hour, to help guide your circadian rhythm over time when sunlight cannot.
The Good Housekeeping Institute experts put leading light therapy options to the test to find the best products to buy for your home — plus, we've used a tester panel to get real-world feedback. When testing light therapy lamps, boxes and other gadgets, we evaluate their performance based on lighting functions and how easy they are to manage at home. Our evaluations are based on the product's versatility and functionality in the home alongside other smart devices, but aren't a measure of its efficacy on your health (a separate conversation you should have with your doctor). These picks are from top-performing brands, and also include newer models with rave online reviews. Whether it's your first time introducing light therapy into your space or you've been using lightboxes for years, these devices will seamlessly blend into your home to bring more brightness to your surroundings.
Put simply, SAD often presents a pattern of depression-like symptoms that hinge on changing seasons, a clinical term to largely describe "winter blues" that may require more targeted treatment. Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., an architecture professor and director of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, tells Good Housekeeping that a lack of exposure to sunlight can produce varying effects on people in all seasons (even though SAD primarily affects people in the winter). "Light is just like diet and exercise; it's something we need for optimal health," Figueriro explains. "We tend to think that because we can see clearly in a space, we're getting enough light for the biological clock, and in general, we're not. "Some may feel less energized or have a hard time focusing without access to sunshine, especially if their sleep routine is being affected. Light therapy, then, is often based on reconfiguring lighting conditions in your home or office, and with the guidance of a healthcare provider over time, the introduction of supercharged lamps and therapy boxes that mimic natural outdoor light. These efforts can help regulate our circadian rhythm, influencing how easily we wake in the morning and how fast we fall asleep at night.
For those suffering from SAD, light therapy efforts have been clinically shown to work to alleviate symptoms, which include anxiety, mood swings, insomnia or sleep deprivation. Light therapy may also work to combat depression risk and other conditions, including jet lag, if the device is engineered to meet current clinical standards. At first, you'll work to directly sit near a light therapy box and incorporate it into your daily routine; and these gadgets should be bright, delivering light at around 10,000 lux, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. When it's time to stop working and get ready for bed, you'll turn it off or adjust it entirely, among other sleep-boosting initiatives.
The Good Housekeeping Institute provides expert reviews and advice on all products designed to boost overall wellness, including light therapy lamps. Testing for this guide was partially overseen by Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and director of engineering in the GH Institute. Rachel was born into a family that owned and operated a consumer electronics distribution business for over seven decades. She has since tested just about any consumer tech gadget, ranging from computers, TVs, smartphones, smart home products and more. She regularly appears on morning shows like 'TODAY' and 'Good Morning America' to report Good Housekeeping's test findings in this category.
In his role as Health Editor, Zee Krstic works hand in hand with analysts in the Good Housekeeping Institute to highlight consumer-facing input from leading health experts; he interweaves doctors' and healthcare providers' expertise into shopping guides to better educate readers. He also independently reviews new products in the wellness space for Good Housekeeping, which he has done previously for Martha Stewart Living and Cooking Light.