Tips for Choosing the Right Bright Light Product
<Reprinted with permission from the Circadian Lighting Association>
As interest in the field of light energy therapy has grown, so have the number of available products. Choosing the right one can be confusing, but it is easier if you know some basic product information.
- Light Box— Light boxes are rectangular fixtures that house fluorescent tubes. They have been widely used for more than 20 years, and have proven very effective. Light boxes come in different sizes and styles. Most experts think that a 10,000 lux box is the most effective. Smaller 5,000 lux boxes can also work well, although they require more time to be beneficial.
- Light Visor–The Light Visor is a head-mounted light source that looks like a tennis visor. The Visor is designed to give people mobility during light sessions and portability for travel. Because of its efficient design, it requires only 3,000 lux to produce benefits comparable to a 10,000 lux light box.
- Desk Lamp – Especially bright desk and floor lamps function much like light boxes. The lamp models, in production for over 15 years, can produce 10,000 lux when oriented correctly towards the eyes, and the designs are less obtrusive in an office or dorm setting.
- Dawn Simulator—Dawn Simulators mimic a natural sunrise, gradually brightening a room over a set period of time. Many also produce an artificial sunset, offer relaxing sleep sounds, and a variety of alarm settings. They help people maximize their sleep, sleeping and waking more naturally, which often elevates daily energy and alertness.
- WindowLites —And CeilingLites can certainly make a room feel more pleasant and improve the mood of people using that room. While they might complement light therapy nicely, they are not nearly as bright as Light Visors and lightboxes, and therefore are not therapeutic bight light therapy.
Each technology has pros and cons you need to evaluate in the context of your own situation. For example, if getting started in the morning is your main challenge, a Dawn Simulator may be best for you. A light box may be best for those who prefer a regular morning routine, and who can sit still, or a desk lamp may work well if you do a lot of desk work. The Light Visor is a great choice if you want to be able to move around during your light therapy session, or if you like to travel. Consult a health care professional, or staff at an experienced CLA light therapy company for more guidance.
It is important to choose a reputable company that can provide a quality product at a good price, with reliable service over the long term. Don’t buy a product that may seem like a bargain at a big box store or online seller — they often sell poor quality products with absolutely no customer service. Consumers can have confidence in companies who are members of the industry trade group, the Circadian Lighting Association (CLA) because all CLA member companies:
- Have been in business for at least twenty years
- Offer a 30 day, no-questions-asked money back guarantee
- Make products to the highest quality standards, proven by independent testing
- Meet or exceed international safety standards
- Support scientific research and patient support organizations
- Understand the needs of people who need light therapy
- Offer great customer service
When you are considering buying a bright light product, do your home work, and ask questions. To learn more about bright light and “winter blues”, consult a knowledgeable health professional and get some library books on the topic (Dr. Norman Rosenthal’s Winter Blues is a good place to start). When you are ready to start talking to companies, ask some of the following questions:
- Is your company a member of the Circadian Lighting Association?
- What specific products do you recommend for me? (describe your situation)
- Do you have a money back guarantee program? (stop here if the answer is no)
- Does the product filter out UV? (many experts feel UV may be unsafe)
- Has this product been tested for effectiveness in clinical trials?
- What is its lux output at what distance? (ask for output levels at a realistic usage distance, say 20 inches)
- How long has your company been in the light therapy business? (the longer the better)
- What is the warranty coverage? (a warranty of at least one year is a must)
- How big is it? (size and weight)
- How much does it cost? How much for shipping? Bulb replacement cost? Extra costs for stands, cases, etc.?