Red Light Therapy For Sleep: Research Backed Tools
Sleep is a crucial part of living a vital and healthy life. It allows our bodies to recover from the day and restore us for the next. And yet, most of us don’t get enough of it. Recent research lead by NASA, Harvard Scientists, and Andrew Huberman shines a light on the importance of controlling your light environment to achieve better and more restful sleep.
Whether it’s trouble falling asleep at night, or waking up feeling groggy during the day, everyone knows that one of the keys to living a long and healthy lifestyle is getting proper sleep. In this article we will break down the research backed protocols of using red light therapy for better sleep and give you the knowledge and tools to make lasting change in your health and vitality.
Modern Life Makes it Hard to Sleep.
Our modern life’s today do not help with this sleep problem. We spend most of our time doors (the average person spends 93% of their life inside). While we are indoors, we are surrounded by non-native, fake light (ie, fluorescent lights & blue-lit technology). This “unnatural light environment” is not how nature designed humans to live. We are disconnected from nature today more than ever and it is taking a tool on our sleep.
Most of us know that ideal sleep environments are dark, quiet, and cool. But if you’re trying to improve your sleep to reduce fatigue and daytime sleepiness, it’s not enough to just get the basics right — you need to think about light. Light plays a major role in your sleep cycle – also known as the circadian rhythm. The wrong type of light at night (blue light) can have serious negative consequences on sleep; while the right type of light (red light) can promote better sleep. Below we will break down how.
How Red Light Can Improve Sleep According To Research.
Artificial light can knock your circadian rhythm out of whack, which can lead to insomnia, poor sleep quality and other health problems. Red light and near-infrared light from a red light therapy device has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, and even help people produce more of their own melatonin—also known as the sleep hormone.
How does red light therapy impact sleep? We break down the top 5 concepts.
- Red Light Therapy Can Optimize Circadian Rhythms
- Red Light Therapy Supports Natural Melatonin Production
- Red Light Therapy Mimics Sunrise & Sunset
- Red Light Combats the Adverse Effects of Blue Light
- Red Light Therapy Can Improve Quality of Sleep
Red Light Therapy Can Optimize Circadian Rhythms (Sleep/ Wake Cycle).
Red light therapy can help regulate your natural circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal clock that tells us when to sleep and when to wake up. The key point to understand is that if your body does not know when to be awake or be asleep because your circadian rhythm is off, it is very hard to feel good.
Today, a lot of modern technology and unnatural light from our phones & screens can mess with your circadian rhythm because it exposes us to a high level of blue light — which inhibits melatonin production and makes it harder for you to fall asleep. Fortunately, red light therapy has been found to help reset your circadian rhythm by balancing out blue light exposure and stimulating melatonin production. A recent clinical study found that “A regime of 14-day whole-body irradiation with red light treatment improved the sleep, serum melatonin level, and endurance performance.”
Using Red Light Therapy in the Evening Supports Natural Melatonin Production.
Melatonin is the naturally-occurring hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Emerging research is showing that red light therapy treatments can help people produce more of their own, natural melatonin. Using red light therapy prior to sleep (around sunset) has been shown to increase nighttime melatonin levels by up to 80% (depending on how much you use it). Unlike artificial blue light from room lighting and digital screens, red light helps the mind and body to wind down in the evening.
In addition to helping us fall asleep faster, studies show that using red light therapy before bed can also help improve quality of sleep. A more recent study in Nature and Science of Sleep found a positive correlation between red-light exposure and reduced sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is that hard-to-shake groggy feeling upon waking, which is another common side effect of chronic sleep deprivation.
Although studies are beginning to show promising results for using red light therapy devices before bedtime, further research is needed before we know exactly how effective these devices are at improving quality of sleep and regulating circadian rhythms.
The Power of Natural Light: Red Light Therapy Mimics Sunrise & Sunset.
Natural light is a key ingredient for a healthy circadian rhythm and restful sleep. At sunrise and sunset, the sun naturally emits the highest amount of red and near-infrared light. This is a signal to your body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. A red light therapy device mimics these ray’s from the sun and gives your body a natural cue that it is time to sleep.
Red light therapy is not a replacement to sunlight, but it does provide the body with two of the most critical wavelengths of the sun – red and near infrared light. By exposing your eyes to light similar to sunlight, red and near-infrared light therapy helps realign your circadian rhythm with the patterns of the sun. As a result, you feel more tired in the evening, as sunlight lowers, and more awake in the morning when the sun rises.
It is hard for most people to get enough natural sun on a consistent basis. And that is where red light therapy comes into play. With a red light therapy device, you can receive a consistent and predictable spectrum of light with every use.
Red Light Combats the Adverse Effects of Blue Light.
Blue light is a high energy wavelength of light that can interfere with our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. The fluorescent and blue light from screens (phones, computer, TV) stimulates your optic nerve and tells your brain its daytime, so melatonin production stops; making it very hard to fall asleep at night.
Red light has the opposite effect when compared to blue light. Red light has a long wavelength, which has a calming effect on the body. Therefore, it has beneficial effects on sleep and other physical properties that help promote relaxation and rest in the evenings while offsetting harmful blue light exposure during the days.
When you use the red wavelength lights as part of a daily routine instead of blue lights during evening hours, your body will be able to set its own biological clock based on your exposure to red wavelengths rather than relying on external stimuli like television or computer screens which may disrupt your internal clock over time if used too much.
How to Use Red Light Therapy to Improve Sleep According to Science.
Red light therapy is an innovative way to optimize your sleep and energy levels. The use of red light therapy has been shown to improve melatonin secretion, which can help with falling asleep faster and maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. It can be used for 10-minutes either in the morning or evening to promote better sleep.
- In the morning: Using red light therapy in the morning, similar to the sunrise, suppresses melatonin (the sleep hormone) and gives you the energy to start your day.
- In the evening: Using red light therapy in the evening at least 60 minutes before bed (1-2 hours before seems to be optimal) can help improve sleep quality by helping your body prepare for rest.
Summary: The Official Red Light Therapy Sleep Protocol
- Red light mimics what you’d observe while watching a sunset. The warmer tones signal to your brain that it’s getting dark outside, which prompts the body to start producing melatonin at the end of the day
- Using RLT in the evening at least 60 minutes before bed (1-2 hours before seems to be optimal) – doing this for even 3 minutes helps, 10 minutes is ideal
- If your eyes are sensitive to light, use the device on your back (triggering a relaxation response and the downregulation of your nervous system, targeting mainly the vagus nerve)
- It works best for sleep because it’s helping offset much of the blue light exposure (stimulating) we are getting from our screens/ phones throughout the day. It is switching on your circadian mechanism (sleep-wake cycle) and helping calm the body of inflammation / other stressors
The Best Red Light Device for Sleep
It is hard for most people to get enough natural sun on a consistent basis. Our modern human lifestyles, consisting of a life spent indoors and behind screens, is not conducive of a natural light environment. This is where red light therapy comes into play.
With the Vital Pro, you can receive a consistent and predictable spectrum of light with every use. It provides your body with two of the most critical wavelengths of the sun – red and near infrared light which have been shown to promote deeper sleep.