SAD lamps reviewed – can they ward off the winter blues?

Lumie Desk SAD Lamps

Short, dark days can wreak havoc with our natural circadian rhythm and lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here, IoD reviewers put SAD lamps to the test to see if they really do ward off the winter blues…

Maplin 10,00 Lux Mini SAD LampsMaplin 10,000 Lux Mini SAD light, £39.99

SAD Lamps reviewer Andy Silvester headshotReviewed by Andy Silvester, head of campaigns, IoD

My energy levels are a lot lower in winter and I had heard that SAD lamps are an effective way of boosting one’s energy, so I was keen to try. The lamp is quite small and compact and could sit on my desk without intruding too much, and it also has screw holes for wall mounting. The instructions are simple and recommend you spend 30–120 minutes under the light at a range of 15cm. That’s less time than I had expected, but when you switch the lamp on you soon realise why – it is very bright and I feared it could be damaging to the eyes if used for too long [it isn’t]. I switched it on for a spell in the morning, and again after lunch when my energy levels usually plummet. I did feel less lethargic and ‘down’ while the lamp was on and for a while afterwards. The light, though more blue than actual sunlight, felt relatively natural despite its intensity and was actually quite refreshing. I would recommend this as the value for money is good and it was effective, for me at least.

SAD Lamps SAD Solutions BluelightSAD Solutions Bluelight, £99

SAD Lamps reviewer Rob Young headshotReviewed by Rob Young, director, Armstrong Denby

Though my energy levels are generally good, they are definitely higher in spring/autumn when I’m engaged in outdoor activities. Both my home and office have big windows with plenty of natural light, but I wanted to try a SAD lamp to see if it increased my energy above its normal level. My first impressions of the lamp and the bag it came in were that it looked dated, a bit like white goods from 10–20 years ago. It was cumbersome and not at all stylish. You have to charge it for 12 hours before use, though the instructions were easy to follow. There is a useful timer facility that stops you from using it for too long, but I did find the light source an annoying distraction from my normal activity, even when dimmed, which was disappointing. Overall, I didn’t get a sense of any impact. Though the lamp may be effective for people suffering from SAD, I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are unaffected by the disorder but are looking for an alternative energy boost.

Rob Young is a member of IoD Yorkshire

Lumie Desk SAD LampsLumie Desklamp, £120

SAD Lamps reviewer Deborah Hughes headshotDeborah Hughes, freelance art editor

I definitely have lower energy levels in the winter and have wanted to give SAD lamps a go for a while. The lamp is quite big and at first it felt distracting on my desk as it somewhat dominated my peripheral vision, but I got used to it and it’s not at all offensive to look at. It was easy to set up – just plug in and press the touch pad on the base to turn on. The instructions tell you how long you should have it on for and how far away it should be, so I had it on for an hour (the optimum time) at different times of the day when I felt tired. It has four intensity levels and also comes with a diffuser, which you can take off for a quick and powerful boost. It made me feel more alert and ‘on it’; I usually feel a lot more tired. Whenever it seemed too bright, I would just turn it down and it would be fine. I’d heard of Lumie before so I assumed it would be of good quality and it was. I would recommend this and, though not cheap, I felt it was value for money.

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About author

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty

Until she left the magazine in August 2019, Hannah Gresty was the assistant editor of Director. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team as editorial assistant in 2016.

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