Hacking Health and Sleep with Red Light
The red light therapy has had such a profound effect on the health of my skin and the quality of my sleep.
Red light has been used for decades as a powerful tool to facilitate health and healing. Typically, there are two types of light you’ll hear about in the context of red light therapy: visible red light and Near Infrared light (NIR). Although these two types of light fall next to each other on the light spectrum, and are actually often confused, they have key important differences. Simple red light is visible to the human eye, and can be used for treating things like sleep disturbances and scar tissue. NIR is invisible to the human eye – if you’re using it, you won’t be able to see it — and penetrates the skin deeply, allowing for mitochondrial regeneration and other benefits.
Visible red light has wavelengths from 620 to 700 nanometers (nm) and can penetrate skin up to 10nm deep, while NIR has wavelengths from 800 to 1,000nm and will penetrate skin up to 40nm. These wavelengths of light are used for healing over other wavelengths (or colors) because light in the 620 to 1,000nm wavelength spectrum is the easiest for the body to absorb. Other wavelengths are heavily blocked by blood and water, but visible red and NIR have wavelengths that are impacted less severely by these barriers, which is why they work and help with healing.
Benefits of Red Light
Red light’s most immediate effects are experienced in relation to sleep: red light induces melatonin production in the body, which is extremely important when it comes to falling asleep. Melatonin is important because it is a hormone that induces sleep, and thus exposure to red light, which creates a melatonin surge, can really help reduce sleep latency, improved sleep quality, and improve duration of deep sleep. Basking in red light for 5-15 minutes before bedtime will boost your melatonin levels, making it easier to fall asleep quickly, if that’s something you struggle with.
I’ve seen firsthand the impact that red light can have on circadian rhythm and sleep quality. While using red light at home, I tracked my sleep results and found that the addition of red light had a tremendous positive impact on my sleep. Historically, I spent less time than average in deep sleep (8-9% of time), and with the red light, I’m now up to 21% deep sleep, which is better than the average 15-20% of time that most adults spend in that state. Using red light really helps support your body’s wake-sleep cycle, and can significantly contribute to your overall sleep quality,
In addition to helping with sleep, red light has been shown to kickstart a whole range of processes:
- Increased circulation and formation of new capillaries
- Increased lymph system activity
- Increased production of collagen and fibroblasts
- Increased release of ATP, or raw cellular energy
- Increased phagocytosis, or cellular cleanup
- Tissue granulation stimulated
- Inflammation reduced
Many of these processes, including capillary formation, production of collagen, cellular cleanup, reduced inflammation, and stimulated tissue granulation, will improve skin quality, ameliorate skin conditions, scar tissue, and reduce skin spots.
Internal Benefits of NIR
NIR targets the cytochrome c oxidase in the mitochondria
Enhanced production of ATP and reduced inflammation that come from visible red light support energy levels and can help you feel more alert and energetic with long-term use of red light. This effect can be complemented by the use of NIR therapy as well, though. NIR also supports energy production, but due to its ability to penetrate skin deeper, provides energy support on a deeper cellular level. NIR directly impacts mitochondrial regeneration. Since mitochondria are the energy sources of the cell, their regeneration can increase your energy levels dramatically.
Other positive effects of NIR also occur deep within the body; in addition to inducing mitochondrial regeneration, NIR has been shown to impact other cellular processes. NIR has been shown to increase RNA/DNA synthesis (fixing and replacing damaged cells), increase production of endorphins and enkephlins from the brain which reduce pain and support mood, support connective tissue formation, and stimulate immune response. NIR also triggers production of cytokines in cells, which cause fibroblasts, or collagen producing areas, to become more active and improve skin quality.
NIR can be used independently for positive health effects, as can visible red light, but together they’ll cover a full spectrum of powerful benefits.
Harnessing the Light
Several options exist to help bring both NIR and red light into your life:
One form of red light therapy is the red light sauna, which generally releases both red and near infrared light, for a combination of health benefits (although some do just infrared light). It can be pricey to put one in your home, but today the number of spas and healing centers offering this tool are growing rapidly. These saunas come in the traditional form as well as a more compatible affordable pocket sauna versions which can be used efficiently at home.
Small devices are used most effectively by holding them close to your skin and moving them up and down your body for several minutes, like a body scan. The closer the light is to your skin, the better, so moving a handheld device around is more effective than trying to use it to shine light on the whole body at once.
When using red light tools, it’s important to remember a few things:
- Always shine light on clean, bare skin.
- NIR is invisible, so just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not working!
- There’s no evidence suggesting that red light is dangerous for your eyes, but just to be safe, don’t shine light directly into them
- Daily treatments are the fastest way to see improvements – and you can taper off to maintenance treatments 2-3 times per week as needed
The average treatment time is 5-15 minutes; there are diminishing returns to longer sessions.
What I have been using and recommend :
I use the Redjuventor – This is my personal favorite. This red light panel is different from just standard red light or NIR. It’s dramatic effectiveness is only partially due to the light therapy aspects of it, about 30 % of the profound healing effects come from the red and near infrared, and the the rest comes from the additional quantum healing energies and the synergistic combination of all of them together. Read more here
I also use Joovv light.
I use and recommend – Sauna Space which is almost zero EMF infra red sauna and made of high quality materials. I use it after my workout on most days and follow it with a cold shower. I always feel more relaxed and grounded after using it. The light penetrates to the mitochondria and it helps detoxify at the cellular level. Read more here
Red light and NIR are powerful, low-risk, and easy-to-use tools that can help you optimize sleep, reduce pain, improve skin and more!
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