What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a treatment that uses low wavelength red, or near infrared (NRI), light to not only improve the appearance of the skin, but to treat other medical conditions as well. Red light therapy may help muscle tissue and other parts of your body heal faster. It may also have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, and sleep patterns.
What is the Science Behind Good Sleep?
Circadian rhythms (physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle) are controlled by a biological clock located in the brain. One key function of this clock is responding to light cues, ramping up production of the hormone melatonin at night, then switching it off when it senses light.
Sleep drive also plays a key role in “good sleep”. Throughout the day, your body’s desire for sleep builds and builds until you reach the point where you need to go to sleep. Once this happens, it’s almost impossible to ignore.
Why You Need to Sleep
You’ve probably experienced a poor night’s sleep at some point in your life, so you know the feeling of “brain fog” or feeling not quite “with it” after a night of poor sleep. This is because sleep greatly affects your brain function. Sleep is imperative for our brains to be able to take information in and process it. Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up.
Sleep is also vital to the body’s ability to function physically. Your immune system is compromised without enough sleep, and your susceptibility to depression, high blood pressure, migraines, and a lower metabolism is increased, among other health disorders as well.
How Does Red Light Therapy Support Sleep?
As mentioned, light patterns guide your brain’s circadian rhythms. In a natural light pattern, your circadian rhythm follows sunrise and sunset. But, because we live in a world with so much artificial light, our natural sleep patterns can be thrown off course.
Being exposed to different types of light can impact your ability to sleep. We all know that blue light coming from a cell phone or tablet affects sleep negatively. So does light from a TV, as well as LED and fluorescent light. However, one type of light may help with sleep.
Red light wavelengths are thought to increase the production of melatonin, the natural hormone that helps you fall asleep. Your body naturally produces melatonin as it gets dark outside. The thought is that exposure to red light before falling asleep may help ramp up melatonin production and help you not only fall asleep faster, but wake up feeling more refreshed.
A study in the Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep found that red lights prevented “sleep inertia.” That’s the feeling of grogginess some people experience when they first wake up after sleeping. Red light therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on sleep quality and can potentially reduce the overall time it takes to fall asleep, which may indirectly lead to a reduction in sleep inertia.
How Does Red Light Increase Melatonin Production?
Red light therapy acts on the mitochondria of the body’s cells. The mitochondria soaks up the red light and turns it into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is basically the energy your body needs to do anything. This increase in ATP is thought to have a positive effect on the natural production of melatonin in the body.
Red light therapy may also decrease the level of cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep, in your body. Some studies also show that red light therapy can increase the amount of slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep.
If sleep evades you, you may want to try red light therapy to solve the problem. It is a non-invasive, safe, pain free way to potentially solve your sleep ailments, and possibly reap many more health benefits as well.
Contact 10X Health today to find out how red light therapy can help you get a better night’s sleep.