How Can Red Light Therapy Affects Your Sleep?
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How Can Red Light Therapy Affects Your Sleep?
Create on 2020-03-05
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Light is a very important factor directly affecting our quality of sleep, and blue light from our screens is known to ruin our sleep patterns over time. But on the other side of the light spectrum lies red light. This type of light has unique properties that improve our sleep. Let's see what kind of therapy is red light therapy and how we can benefit from it for good sleep.

Red Light Therapy can Affect Your Sleep

The Science Behind Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy (RLT) combines the principles of modern medicine and photobiomodulation. It heals and prevents diseases by deeply irradiating body cells or tissues using specific red and near-infrared light at concentrated wavelengths. Light can affect sleep, starting with melatonin. The pineal gland in the human brain secretes a hormone called melatonin, which guides us to sleep and improves the quality of our sleep. Therefore, melatonin is an important factor that affects our sleep. Red light therapy can improve sleep quality by regulating the body's circadian rhythm.[1] It has minimal impact on melatonin production and helps to regulate sleep-wake cycle. Red light therapy is non-invasive, safe, and highly effective compared to traditional methods. Red light therapy has shown great therapeutic or adjuvant potential for insomnia and related disorders.

The Vital Role of Sleep and the Promise of RLT

Circadian sleep-wake disorders affect people's health and well-being. Changes in external light conditions can affect the body's cognition, emotion, biological rhythm, and other functions. For example, animal studies have found that insufficient illumination or disturbed light patterns can impair learning and memory skills .[2] Poor sleep quality can make you feel bad and irritable easily, and most importantly, not sleeping well often can make you age faster. Current treatments for sleep disorders mainly include exogenous melatonin therapy. As a non-drug treatment, red light therapy plays a pivotal role in treating circadian rhythm-associated sleep disorders. RLT is a well-studied and promising approach to improving various health aspects, including sleep.

RLT Benefits for Sleep

RLT Benefits sleep disorders in a number of different ways: [3]

  • Regulate Circadian Rhythms: The influence of light containing certain wavelengths, especially in the red and near-infrared area, has been reported to regulate the human body's internal clock. Light exposure, mainly in the morning, helps resetone's circadian rhythm, making them more alert and awake during the daytime. On the other hand, red light exposure in the evening may signal the body that it's about time to wind down and get some sleep. RLT could be used to help achieve more synchronized and higher-quality sleep.
  • Enhanced Melatonin Production: It has also been pointed out that blue light, particularly emitted from digital devices, exerts an inhibitory effect on the production of melatonin, which leads to sleep disturbances, while red light has a very weak effect on melatonin. Enhanced red light exposure boosts the production of melatonin, thus aiding the role of melatonin in promoting sleep.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Chronic stress and anxiety are the main contributors to sleep disturbances. Red light therapy has a calming effect on the nervous system, reduces stress hormones like cortisol, and induces relaxation. By creating a more relaxed state, RLT may help prepare the body and mind for deeper sleep.
  • Ease Pain and Discomfort: Chronic disease and acute muscle injuries both result in widespread pain and discomfort, which is directly associated with sleep disturbances. RLT has shown a potential analgesic effect in reducing the perception of pain and inflammation. Reducing discomfort using RLT makes it easier to doze off, and hence, one can remain asleep all night long.
RLT Benefits for Sleep

Practical Applications

It's easy to incorporate Red Light Therapy (RLT) into your sleep hygiene regimen by following these steps.

  • Incorporate RLT into your nightly routine at the appropriate time. The best time is 30 minutes to one hour before going to bed; this will give your body a chance to react to the effects of therapy, thus facilitating sleep.
  • Get yourself an RLT device that fits into your lifestyle. There is the type, large panel that can even fit your whole body. Select the one that best suits your budget and space requirements.
  • Place your RLT device in a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed, ideally in your bedroom. You should dim the lights and eliminate as many potential distractions as possible to really create a nice, relaxing environment for relaxation and sleep.
  • Try to make RLT sessions part of your nightly routine. Just before hitting the sack, be sure to allot time for RLT therapy every night.
  • To enhance the effects of RLT, combine it with any relaxation technique such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching; all of these can be done concurrently with the red light for a more synergistic effect in relaxing and alleviating stress.
  • Always listen to what your body will be communicating to you in regard to RLT, and then make a change in the routine. Take note of your sleeping times, energy levels, and general body feeling, and see how RLT is affecting your sleep quality.

 

User Experiences

Personal Reports: Many people reported having a better night's sleep after introducing RLT at bedtime. Users found that they fall asleep quicker, have fewer disturbances during the night, and are much more alert on awakening.

Practitioner Observations: There are anecdotal reports from healthcare providers and health practitioners who practice RLT that RLT has a positive effect on the sleep of their clients. Frequently, they observed a change in sleep quality, a decrease in sleep latency, and overall relaxation post-RLT session.

Conclusion

By embracing red light therapy, we are taking steps forward in which sleep is not just a fight but could be a revitalizing experience. RLT is a transforming approach to sleep disturbances aimed at underlying issues such as disrupted circadian rhythms and stress. With its capability of regulating the sleep-wake cycle, boosting melatonin levels, and inducing relaxation, this marks a new era in sleep enhancement. Apart from sleep, RLT has many other benefits for overall health improvement. Its reduction in inflammation, lowering of pain, and improvement in cellular functioning make it a valuable tool in treatment for overall wellness. Therefore, we should afford the potential of RLT, a chance not only to get better sleep but also to live healthy and brighter lives.

References

[1] Glass G. E. (2021). Photobiomodulation: The Clinical Applications of Low-Level Light Therapy. Aesthetic surgery journal, 41(6), 723–738. https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjab025

[2] van Maanen, A., Meijer, A. M., van der Heijden, K. B., & Oort, F. J. (2016). The effects of light therapy on sleep problems: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep medicine reviews, 29, 52–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2015.08.009

[3] Pan, R., Zhang, G., Deng, F., Lin, W., & Pan, J. (2023). Effects of red light on sleep and mood in healthy subjects and individuals with insomnia disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry, 14, 1200350. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1200350

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