I loathe fall and winter for two reasons — cold weather and months of darkness.
While I can deal with putting on a sweater to fight the cold, there’s not a whole lot that can make up for that mood-boosting energy I get from the sun. That’s where a light-therapy lamp comes in to help.
With millions of people lacking the needed sunlight to balance their melatonin levels and keep their circadian rhythms in check, light-therapy lamps are intended to help fill in those dark gaps with a bright LED glow.
The brands Carex and Theralite have been regarded as top-tier light-therapy brands, earning high marks in publications like the New York Times.
For this review, I gave the Carex Day-Light Classic (currently retailing at $114) and the more modern Theralite Aura Bright Light Therapy Lamp (with a suggested price of $99) a try for two weeks in my mostly dim apartment. I could feel the difference.
The Carex Day-Light Classic is a more traditional LED lamp. It’s big, bulky and incredibly bright at 10,000 lux intensity (a measure of light comparable to springtime lighting on a clear day). It’s suggested you sit in front of it for about 30 minutes per day, so I played a game on my computer, turned the light on and felt a rush missing from the darkness of the outdoors after 6 p.m. There are two light settings that can be changed with the flip of a switch.
While it could be from the power of suggestion, as I was doing quite a bit of research on the positive effects of light therapy, I felt my mood improve after those light-therapy sessions. Where I often feel down during the fall and winter, this felt rejuvenating, though not as much as I would feel in actual sunlight on a spring day. It does exactly what’s advertised on the box and nothing more.
From the moment you plug in the Theralite Aura Bright Light Therapy Lamp, you notice it’s a little flashier. With a clock display, it immediately plays “Auld Lang Syne” (its default setting is midnight on Jan. 1). Along with the clock, it has a wireless phone charger and touch pads to adjust the lighting.
Using the same routine as with the Day-Light Classic, I felt the same kind of positive rush. The edge this has over the Classic is its build is less cumbersome, adjustments to the light are easier and more plentiful (it has four settings) and the clock allows me to track my time in front of the light easier.
If you’re in need of some light this winter, either one will work. The similarities are close enough (Both lights claim they’re almost UV free and clinically tested) that it will likely come down to your budget and what kind of bells and whistles you want to come along with your lamp.
Both are a “go” from “The Testing Ground.”