How 20 Minutes of Light Therapy Can Help Boost Your Mood

Simple at-home lamps can help fight the blues.

byEdmund Torr|
How 20 Minutes of Light Therapy Can Help Boost Your Mood
Sitting in front of a therapy lamp for just 30 minutes each day can make a big difference in your mood. Getty Images

Sunlight is, at a very basic level, important for human happiness. Not getting enough light, especially strong morning light, can result in low-level depression, bad moods, anxiety and decreased energy—which none of us needs right now (or ever). Luckily therapy lights can simulate the effects of the sun, giving you a concentrated dose of mood-lifting rays anytime.

How Do Therapy Lamps Work?

It’s all about circadian rhythms.

Regular and scheduled use of the therapy light—typically a very bright light “box,” or lamp—are clinically proven to help lift mood and energy levels. True therapy lights are extremely bright; you’ll want to find one that provides 10,000 lux, a measure of light brightness. Really good therapy lights, like this one, feature LEDs that block UV light. That’s useful, because the last thing you want is sun damage from your therapy light.

How Do You Use One?

Timing is everything.

As with anything designed to treat mental or physical ailments, more isn’t always better with therapy lights: you won’t want to just blast yourself with light all day. (That can cause headaches, eye strain and other issues.) So experts recommend setting up a regular schedule. Twenty or 30-minute sessions in the early morning, right when you wake up, are generally most effective. This therapy light has a convenient built-in timer. (As a bonus, it’s also small enough to sit on your bedside table.)

What Do You Do During a Light Session?

Don’t look right at it.

The key with a therapy light is to simulate a bright, sunny day. So you want it to light your immediate area indirectly. Do not look directly at the light: it’ll be painful, for one thing, and you wouldn’t look directly at the sun during a clear summer’s day, right? Small light therapy boxes, like this pick can be useful because they can be placed out of your direct line of sight. And while you have your light on, just live your life! Read a book, have some coffee, mess around on your phone, do whatever you’d normally do during the first half hour of your morning period. The only difference is, you’ll be treating your mood just by being lit up.