Improving Sleep Quality with Red Light Therapy
If you are trying to improve or optimize your sleep quality, then this is going to be the blog for you. Having optimal sleep quality is vital for almost every function in the body. Sleep is imperative for allowing the body to repair injuries, fight illnesses and stave off diseases so that the body can remain healthy. Without enough good quality sleep, the body is incapable of functioning at normal capacity.
This impairs the body’s ability to concentrate, think properly and process memories. This blog will give you fresh eyes into the importance of sleep and how red light therapy can be used as a synergistic tool for improving sleep quality.
We know that our circadian rhythm is the internal body clock that is responsible for controlling when we are tired and ready for bed, or when we are feeling refreshed and alert. This body clock functions as a 24 hour cycle, where we sleep to repair and heal our minds and bodies before spending the day essentially tiring ourselves out again, leading up to the next rest time.
Adenosine is an organic compound that is produced in the brain, and is responsible for maintaining this sleep-wake homeostatic state. Adenosine increases throughout the day as the body tires and then breaks down during sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Reduced cognition,
- Delayed reactions
- Attention lapses
- Mood shifts and inconsistencies
- Increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke
Light is one of the major contributors to influencing the circadian rhythm. We have another super informative blog here which explains in detail how the hypothalamus and the suprachiasmatic nerve responds to light. The connection between light and sleep is stronger than one may think, which may be contradictory to what we’ve always believed as we always sleep in a dark room.
According to researchers, light is the strongest cue for training your circadian rhythm. These researchers have noted that the best results for light therapy are noted when practiced in the morning as a daily routine. Individuals that experience circadian or depression-related sleep issues are often referred to as phase-delayed. This means that the internal body clock functions behind or slower than the normal circadian rhythm, which results in the affected individual falling asleep later or waking up later than normal.
Even if you don’t have sleep issues, light therapy has proven to improve sleep quality. Not all sleep is created equally. So even if you get in 7-8 hours of sleep, you may not feel as rested as you did the night before. If you have a normal-healthy circadian rhythm and are looking for optimizing your sleep, using your device in the afternoon and evening may be more beneficial.
How can red light help?
The wavelengths of light emitted by your red light device (red and near infrared light) stimulates certain areas of the brain to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone, which results in feelings relaxation and calmness.
An interesting study performed on Chinese female basketball players, looked at how red light exposure could influence sleep quality and endurance performance over 14 days. Twenty athletes were divided into two groups – the treatment group (red light) and placebo group (no light exposure).
Daily treatments of 30 minutes each were given to each athlete in the treatment group before sleep. It was noted in the group of athletes that received treatment had improved sleep, increased melatonin levels and endurance performance. It concluded that red light exposure is effective at improving sleep quality and offered a nonpharmacologic (not requiring medication) and non-invasive therapy to treat sleep disorders and improve athletic performance at the same time.
For the most effective results from using your red light therapy device, we would recommend using your device in the evening TOGETHER with a controlled environment temperature. Combining these two modalities results in the most effective results for optimized sleep quality. Our core body temperatures increase during the day as we are moving around, and active. Our body temperature then decreases in the evening as we are slowing down and getting ready for sleep. What we’ve noticed is that taking a warm shower 90-120 minutes before bed increases the blood flow in our bodies and results in the expulsion of that core body heat to the outer tissues of our body like our skin. The outside air is then able to cool down the blood that is in the surface of our bodies. This cooled down blood then returns to the core of the body and allows the body to calm and get ready for a good quality sleep. This time of allowing the our blood to cool down from the surrounding cool air is the perfect time to use your red light device. Check out this hack and more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZYv0nThdUA
This results in extremely positive results for increasing melatonin production as well as reduced core body temperatures at the same time.
We find these hacks so interesting and incredible! Why not try it for yourself?
Written by: Caroline Bursey
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