The Effects of Red Light on Sleep
We often underestimate the importance of sleep and the impacts that an insufficient amount of it can have on the body. Not only does sleep deprivation negatively affect mood, alertness and daily productivity but it is also more likely to result in making erratic decisions. Chronic fatigue from lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, inflammation and cognitive functioning issues and also put you at a higher risk developing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure which is why it should not be left untreated.
Light is all around us, light from the sun, our computers and the globes on the ceiling but something we don't often think about is light's impact on the body. Did you know that all the light around you influences the body’s ability to generate and maintain a healthy sleep cycle? The body interprets different colours of light as signals for when to be awake/asleep, which is why too much or too little of one form of it can throw off natural balances. Overexposure to the wrong types of light can affect several functions such as natural circadian rhythms, ability to regulate appetite, immune functioning and hormone levels.
Different colours of light have been found to affect the body in different ways. For example blue, yellow and white light symbolise daytime, sending messages to the body to let it know that it is time to be awake and alert. This is why using your phone before bed can prevent you from falling asleep. This occurs because the blue light emitted from your device is signaling to the body that it’s time to be awake.
On the other hand, red light has an alternative effect on the body. Due to its low colour temperature, red light is great for the evenings or before bed as it sends signals to the body to let it know that it is time for sleep.
Over the years, red light has been found to have various positive effects on the body. Several studies have tracked its ability to induce melatonin production, an important hormone needed to stay asleep for uninterrupted periods. Staying away from artificial blue light (from mobile phones, computers etc.) and instead being exposed to red light or using a red light device before bed is the best way to ensure that you will have a good sleep and ease into sleep more naturally.
Red Light Case Studies:
Several case studies have been conducted to further study the benefits and effects of red light on the body. One study, conducted in 2001, trialled 38 participants all suffering from insomnia, a condition that makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. All participants were treated with a red-light intranasal device once daily for 10 consecutive days. At the end of the 10 day period all participants recorded having higher serum melatonin levels and better recorded sleep during that period.
The positive effects of red light were also recorded in another red light therapy study that tested if light therapy sessions delivered every night for two weeks would increase the performance of elite female basketball players. The results showed that sleep, serum melatonin levels, endurance performance and sleep quality improved during the treatment period as a result of using red light.
Another trial conducted in Brazil studied the effect of red light when used to treat migraines. Not only was it found that the red light reduced the number of headaches experienced and the pain they induced, but regular treatments were also found to improve all correlated sleep disorders.
The extensive range of benefits that red light has on the body and quality of sleep are still being researched, however, as mentioned in the case studies above, the positive results are almost undeniable. Introducing red light into your home is something that is accessible to everyone, with a variety of products available on the internet ranging from hand-held LLLT visible red devices (such as the Handy Pulse Laser) to intranasal red light devices (including the Vielight intranasal range). Have a search and see which products could be right for you!