Sometimes, the dread of knowing an inevitably dark and gloomy winter is coming can be more depressing than the season itself. And if you're someone with seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD), then you may be brainstorming ways to combat the winter blues already. One common — and science-backed — method for reducing the symptoms of SAD is light therapy, in which you sit or work in front of a light that mimics natural outdoor light.
But sitting in front of any bright light won't necessarily make you feel happier. According to the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, a nonprofit research and education organization for environmental therapies, there's important criteria that you should keep in mind when purchasing a SAD light. And considering the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate SAD lights, it's a good idea to know what you're looking for before you invest in one.
For starters, the light should provide 10,000 lux (the measurement used for light intensity) at a comfortable sitting distance of 16 to 24 inches away from your face. It should also be white, not colored, because blue light doesn't have any therapeutic benefits. If the lamp uses fluorescent bulbs, it should also have a screen over it to filter out harmful UV rays. And in order to reduce glare, the light should be aimed to shine over your eyes — not directly into them.