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As the days shorten, the lack of sunshine and bright light can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Enter light therapy, a wellness option that involves regular exposure to intense light mimicking the sun. Recommended by the Mayo Clinic, light therapy can improve energy, uplift moods (or combat seasonal depression), soothe eyes, reduce strain, and even fight back against migraines.

  • How does light therapy work? By indirectly “taking in” bright light at around 10,000 LUX (the ideal intensity of light for these benefits), our retinas detect that brightness and communicate with our brains to reset our circadian rhythm or internal clock.

    With regular light therapy, daytime melatonin levels decrease while serotonin levels increase, helping us to stay awake or more energized. And we don’t need to look at a light therapy lamp; we can simply leave it on while in the same room for anywhere from 15–60 minutes at a time.

  • What are the benefits? The American Journal of Psychiatry published a preliminary 2005 study sharing that certain types of light therapy effectively fight seasonal mood disorders.

    Generally, you’ll start to feel your desired results (i.e., improved mood, fewer headaches) within a week, though sometimes it can take a few weeks for your body to react. You may need to adjust the timing, duration, or brightness level for optimal results. Ongoing use is usually best, as your symptoms may come back if you skip days in between. 

However, we’d like to note: If you are experiencing mood changes or depression, please seek a medical professional for a diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan. In fact, some insurance companies will cover light therapy lamps to treat certain ailments.

We’ve found five light therapy lamps (including one wearable version!), so you can get back to feeling like your best self, bright light and all. ☀️ For more support this winter, head here for our recommendations on how to find a therapist and the best places for affordable therapy online.

1. Allay

Ships To | US
Our Pick | The Allay Lamp ($149.99)
Price | $89–$149

Headache and migraine sufferers alike will be fans of Allay’s patented products. The green-light Allay Lamp and Desk Light were created by a Harvard Medical School neuroscientist and NASA designer for more affordable and effective solutions to daily light sensitivity. Whichever you pick, you can easily switch between headache mode and regular light for relief. The Allay Lamp lasts up to 32 hours while the Desk Light’s battery lasts up to 18. Portable, functional, and soothing, try Allay for 40 days risk-free or your money back.

2. Verilux HappyLight

Ships To | Canada & US
Our Pick | HappyLight® Full-Size ($59.99)
Price | $29.99–$69.99

Based out of Vermont, Verilux creates products with the power of full-spectrum light, including the best-selling HappyLight® collection. With hundreds of positive reviews, most of these light therapy boxes come with tilt features so you can easily adjust their positions and high/low-intensity controls; plus, with a larger surface area than most, you’ll feel better, faster. Use one to boost your mood, fight jet lag, or reduce eyestrain. Verilux offers a 30-day guarantee.

3. AYO

Ships To | Worldwide
Our Pick | AYO Glasses ($299)
Price | $199–$299

For light therapy that you can wear, check out the AYO. AYO’s two glasses are Bluetooth-compatible with both iOS and Android, so you can choose to optimize sleep, adjust to travel, or boost your energy accordingly. And, because you only need to wear them 20 minutes a day, they’re easy to throw on first thing in the morning. Choose from AYO or AYOlite; the first comes with a power bank, a personalized schedule, and multiple intensity features, whereas the AYOlite offers one intensity level and auto on/off sessions. AYO comes with a 60-day return policy.

4. Alaska Northern Lights

Ships To | Canada & US
Our Pick | Aurora LightPad Mini ($188)
Price | $65–$598

For nearly medical-grade light therapy, look to Alaska Northern Lights—the brand, that is! For almost 30 years, the team has focused on therapy boxes to treat depression, sleep issues, and mental health disorders. Our pick, the Aurora LightPad Mini, is a travel-friendly compact box that still packs a punch as one of the brightest options out there. The brand also offers a whopping seven-year warranty, and an insurance reimbursement form so your purchase can be covered. 

5. Sunrise Sensations

Ships To | Canada & US
Our Pick | DayBright
Price | $239

Sunrise Sensations combines game-changing light therapy and modern sustainable design with the DayBright lamp. As a full-sized lamp, the DayBright offers tons of surface area so you can go about your day while still receiving the brightness you need, and it comes with a remote control to manage the brightness and color. This beautiful lamp is crafted with responsibly sourced wood and is perfect for aesthetes and sustainability fans.

Featured image via Sunrise Sensations