DIY SAD Light Therapy Box

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I read an article about how yesterday was known as the whiniest day of the year, and I believe it. The holidays are over. There’s generally not another paid holiday until May. And for some of us it’s just months of cold, dreary weather to look forward to. That’s when the SAD really starts to kick in.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that generally sets in around fall and lets up in spring, when the seasons change. One treatment for SAD is light therapy (or phototherapy). Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light therapy box with lights that mimic natural outdoor light. Some people use tanning beds as a source of light therapy, or you can buy all different types of light therapy lamps online, and they can get pretty expensive. But if you’ve got some wood that you can make a box out of, or even just a box, you could make one at home using this tutorial from Instructables. Besides the box, all you’ll need is the stuff to make and connect the lights (they use CFL lightbulbs), aluminum foil or silver spray paint, a drill & cylindrical drill bit, small screws or nails, plexiglass, and some sandpaper. The box can be made to whatever size you’d like it to be depending on the space you have available, and you can set it on a timer to act as a natural alarm clock.

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7 thoughts on “DIY SAD Light Therapy Box

  1. Reblogged this on Season of Plenty and commented:
    MAKE and Instructables are treasure troves of awesome ideas, although some are more involved than others. This particular one is pretty simple and can be made with spare and scrap parts, depending on what you and your friends have lying around the house/workshop. If you are using your lightbox for SAD, check that your lightbulbs are an appropriate color temperature, between 3000 and 6500 degrees Kelvin. Most fluorescents fall within this range, but incandescents and some LEDs (those designed to give off very “warm” light) don’t.

  2. This is not a SAD lamp. The information in this article, though glossed over, even tells you why it won’t work. The fluorescent bulbs in this lamp do not mimic daylight and can make your condition worse. If used as a SAD lamp it can also damage your vision. The original article it’s copied from even states that it’s merely inspired by a SAD lamp, can’t be placed in your line of sight, and thus wouldn’t be functional as a SAD lamp even if the light temperature were correct. You can’t just use any old lamp for light therapy by cranking the brightness with foil and additional bulbs. This is poorly researched bad advice and should be removed.

    1. Oh, not just that, she seems to have paid zero attention to something rather important – how many amps is this thing going to pull? I realize these are CFLs, but even then – and worse, if someone used incandescents – can this thing dissipate enough heat?

      Don’t build friggin everything you find on the internet, especially when it’s an article that’s ripped from an article that’s ripped from an article that asks you to screw around with mains wiring. Yes, you can kill yourself. Easily. If you don’t know what an isolation transformer is or what it doesn’t, chances are you shouldn’t be trying this.

  3. As someone who knows a bit about both electronics and SAD: Do NOT – under any circumstance, go and build this!

    Besides the obvious dangers of eletrocuting yourself or burning down your house, it will not work and might make you worse. For a SAD lamp to work, the output in lm or lux have to be correct, and so should the color temperature / spectrum.

    The effect of SAD lamps have been extensively researched and it has been confirmed that to achieve any positive effect, the output volume, viewing distance, color temperature, the amount of time spend in front of the lamp, and the time of day (early morning) is all crucial.

    Decent SAD lamps can be bought on Amazon for about 50 eur – don’t play with electric devices and don’t experiment with homebuild therapy lamp unless YOU REALLY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU*RE DOING !!!

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Cosplayer, writer, craftswoman at Ruby Fern, and co-founder of the non-profit The Geek Foundation. I love creativity and being a maker!

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