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Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp review

Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp effectively mimics sunlight on gloomy days

Product shots of the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp in front of blue and yellow background. Credit: Reviewed / Circadian

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  1. Product image of Circadian Optics Lumos

    Circadian Optics Lumos

Each morning, you can find me with a cup of tea, sunbathing in the light coming through my east-facing windows. I settle on the floor for an hour or two of work and allow the light to naturally wake me up, energize me for the day and, generally, boost my mood. The longer I engage in this routine, the more obvious it becomes when this “me-time” isn’t possible.

$50 at Amazon

Chicago isn’t necessarily a gloomy city, but we certainly have long periods without natural light in the fall and winter months. Come December, I find myself craving warmth and lacking the same pep in my step that I often have during the sunnier months. This is where the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp comes in. It’s an artificial sun lamp that shines in ways that may help fight the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

For the purpose of this review, I used the lamp for one week to see how its man-made light may, or may not, positively impact my mood.

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How the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp works

Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp in upright position on top of table indoors.
Credit: Reviewed / Kelly Wynne

Using UV-free LED bulbs, the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp may alleviate SAD and insomnia.

The Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp retails for about $50, depending on where you buy it. Best Buy has a series of options from the Circadian Optics brand, but I used the Lumos lamp: a smaller light that can be directed at you from a variety of positions on a desk.

The light features LED bulbs that are said to fight mental and physical ailments such as insomnia, jet lag, and SAD. Official documentation also says the UV-free bulb lasts a staggering 50,000 hours while emitting 10,000 Lux of light. This is an impressive amount of time that should be enough to pull you through the darkest days without much question of when your potentially mood-boosting light source will run out.

What I like about the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp

Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp on top of table indoors.
Credit: Reviewed / Kelly Wynne

Although the brightness isn't a total replacement for natural sunlight, I felt a noticeable boost of energy after use.

Brightness settings

The Circadian Optics lamp has three brightness settings, which seems like an easy win for those who aren’t looking for a football-stadium-level light to shine on their face. While the first setting is undeniably bright, the light’s dimming options let the user adjust the power based on their personal preference.

Because I have sensitive eyes, I chose to enjoy the light on the middle or lowest setting. This personal selection did not seem to interfere with my enjoyment of the lamp, as I still felt energized after using it.

True sun replacement

There’s no denying I felt an increase of energy on the days I used the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp. I don’t believe it was the lamp itself giving me a boost of energy, rather that the light signaled my body to full alertness in hours I would otherwise be dragging my feet.

To me this product feels like a genius tool for a midday boost when you just don’t want another cup of coffee. Perhaps it could be the key to getting through a winter with cloudy skies day after day. I reviewed this lamp in the summer months, but I’m curious to test it again come winter when I struggle most to keep my mood up.

It fits a variety of users

Something that can’t be ignored about the Circadian Optics lamp is that it could theoretically be used both clinically and personally. For people who just need help regulating their energy cycles, the product is easily accessible in a variety of marketplaces. However, for those who would benefit from clinical use of the lamp, like those with bipolar disorders or schizophrenia, whose congruent circadian rhythm can make or break how they feel, the lamp is just as affordable and accessible.

As someone with chronic illness, I know too well that objects used as health aids can be upcharged to extreme prices, or be perpetually backordered. Circadian Optics avoids this mishap entirely by offering a product that can potentially be used in a wide variety of circumstances. Plus, they have a whole lineup of alternative light designs if one particular model happens to be out of stock.

What I don’t like about the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp

Mileage may vary in improving sleep

As someone who sleeps chronically well, this lamp didn’t necessarily change my sleep routine. However, for someone who struggles with sleep, I think using the lamp during daytime hours, especially upon waking, may help assimilate their body to a new day.

Rather than helping to fall asleep, I assume the lamp may be more useful for groggy, non-morning people who just need an extra boost to feel like a full human being in the early hours. The product’s light stimulates daylight, so just a few minutes with the lamp turned on may help the body crawl out of hibernation when it’s time to be productive.

That said, because this lamp didn’t impact my personal resting pattern, it’s hard to say just how much it might assist somebody else who’s having time maintaining restful sleep. In this regard especially, your mileage may vary.

Lack of LED color options

I’m sure there are scientific purposes for the bright white light featured in the Circadian Optics lamp, but I’d be curious to see what other bulbs could be incorporated to simulate a full-day cycle. As stated above, the Circadian Optics lamp is great if you need to wake up, but I’d imagine there may also be a market for nighttime lamps, or a daytime-progression setting, which sees the lamp fully transition from daylight to dusk.

I’d love to see a lamp that mimics golden hour, or even the blush tones of a sunset through a similar light box. While this may not be as scientifically accurate, I feel it would be a gamechanger for anxiety, and a way to allow the body to believe it was entering a period of calm, rather than a time it was expected to be fully awake.

The white light of the Circadian Optics lamp serves its purpose of making you alert, but I couldn’t help but feel the product has the potential to be slightly more versatile than it currently is.

Should you buy the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp?

Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp on top of table indoors.
Credit: Reviewed / Kelly Wynne

This is a product that you can experiment with if you want to try balancing your mood with light.

Ultimately, your choice of buying a product like the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp comes down to personal preference. While there’s certainly merit in having the lamp on hand for particularly difficult days, I’d only recommend investing if you’re someone who struggles with symptoms of seasonal or regular depression.

In my trials, the biggest difference appeared to be the amount of motivation I had throughout the day. So, if you’re looking for a tool to help you build up stamina, or to help you feel a bit more cheerful, it’s worth a try. It’s also a great option if a mental health expert recommends a therapy light because of the clinical reasons stated above. It seems unlikely this product would treat SAD completely, but it could possibly improve the symptoms to some degree.

Your region of residence might factor into your purchase decision as well. If you’re living in sunny California, a replacement for sun may not be worth the investment. However, in darker, cooler climates where sun is never a guarantee, a therapy lamp may come in handy.

If you’re iffy on the idea of a using therapy lamp to ease the impact of mood disorders, you might want to avoid light therapy lamps altogether. But if you’re intrigued by how the lamp could improve your well-being, and have confidence you’ll use it during gloomier times of the year, the Circadian Optics brand is an affordable way to experiment with bright light therapy.

$50 at Amazon

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Product image of Circadian Optics Lumos

    Circadian Optics Lumos