We're officially a month into winter, and the drop in temperature and loss of daylight is starting to take its toll. For some people, the dreary weather kickstarts mild winter blues, but for 5 percent of the population, it triggers something more severe: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The seasonal mood disorder — which is more common in women — can trigger serious changes in mood or behavior, and symptoms can last up to five months, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Luckily, a light therapy device is considered an effective way to combat the gloom.
The popular devices simulate outdoor light — and researchers believe exposure to this light can cause a "chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood," according to Talia Wiesel, PhD, the assistant professor of psychiatry at the Ichan School of Medicine in New York City. She also tells People that light treatment is often used to help with sleep issues and other forms of depression.
A 2017 review of bright light therapy research supports her claim, stating it can help reset the body's biological clock, enhance alertness, improve sleep, and increase serotonin. Additional pros include "little to no side effects" and fast results that come in as little as a week, according to Gail Saltz, MD, the clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital.
But not every light therapy lamp is the same: Dr. Saltz warns that light therapy devices must have a minimum of 10,000 lux of white full-spectrum light and be used correctly. She also tells People it's important to contact your psychiatrist for recommendations on the right distance, strength, and duration of your treatment, as well as the best time of day to complete it.
Although Dr. Wiesel offered a few of product recommendations — like the . A favorite of more than 2,300 shoppers, the portable light delivers the full 10,000 lux of bright white light needed for treatment.
The unique design is sleek and compact. Its small footprint makes it easy to place the light within the recommended 12 inches of your face. It has an adjustable base that allows you to direct light at your face (and away from your eyes). Plus, it filters out UV light to avoid damaging the skin or eyes during the 20-minute treatment.
"It has actually changed my life," wrote a reviewer. "I struggled with severe insomnia for over a year. I finally met the right doctor who suspected I was struggling with a very delayed circadian rhythm and told me to get a light like this one. I use it for about 30 minutes right when I wake up. Within two weeks, I was off Ativan and actually getting some of the best sleep of my life. It's the most impactful [money] I've spent."
Another wrote: "I've struggled with SAD ever since I moved to Seattle, but this year has been particularly difficult. I was worried that this small light wouldn't work for me. Boy was I wrong! The first day I used it I felt like I'd drank a whole pot of coffee. I use it for about an hour each morning. Now I feel great every day. I have loads of energy and sleep well every night."
Best of all, this life-changing product is super affordable at just $40. You can finally say so long to winter blues and hello to better moods — and sleep.
Buy It! Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp, $39.99;
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