Red Light Therapy for Sleep:
How to Make It Work
Good sleep quality is one of the main prerequisites for a healthy life. However, this seemingly simple thing is hard to attain for many people. In fact, sleeping disorders might be a new and overlooked epidemic that is sweeping the globe. A significant percentage of people worldwide relies on sleep medicine to get enough sleep.
Taking care of your sleep health is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Better sleep can make a great difference both for your physical and mental health.
What Constitutes Restful Sleep?
According to the Sleep Foundation, over one third of all adults report sleeping less than 7 hours per night. The healthy range of sleep for an adult is between seven and nine hours, which means that over a third of the adult population is consistently getting less sleep than they need to function properly.
However, quality sleep doesn't just depend on getting enough hours of shut-eye. One of the criteria for a good night's sleep is falling asleep easily - in less than thirty minutes. But it's not enough to just fall asleep - you need to stay asleep too.
Most people wake up at least once per night, and that is normal, especially after the age of forty. However, waking up more often than that can be problematic, especially if you have difficulty falling asleep again. A sleep disturbance that lasts twenty minutes or longer significantly impacts sleep quality.
And finally, one of the most important criteria for good sleep is your subjective feeling after waking up. After a good sleep, you should feel rested and energized.
How Does Poor Sleep Quality Affect Your Health?
The seven to nine hour range is not one-size-fits-all. It is possible that some individuals are able to get by and feel well with less sleep than that. However, these exceptions are extremely rare.
Even though science still hasn't shed light on all of the functions of sleep, there is ample evidence that shorter sleep duration and poorer quality sleep negatively impact our cognitive abilities, as well as mental and physical health.
A long term study has found that consistent sleep deprivation of five hours per night or less poses a significant health risk and is associated with a higher incidence of several chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The effects of inadequate sleep are evident even without looking far into the future. Sleep deprivation prevents memory consolidation, hindering learning and cognitive processes. It can also exacerbate mental health disorders like anxiety and seasonal affective disorder.
But the body can be just as affected as the mind. Insufficient restful sleep is associated not just with high blood pressure and weight gain, but even with an increased risk of injury.
What Are Some of the Factors That Lead to Poor Sleep?
There are many facets of modern life that negatively impact people's ability to get restful sleep. Sometimes this is just a matter of poor sleep hygiene, and sometimes it's due to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, or sleep cycle abnormalities.
Sleep hygiene is a big contributing factor when it comes to chronic sleep disorders. Most people don't realize how important it is to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day.
The sleeping environment can also cause poor quality sleep. Excess heat makes it harder to fall asleep, and so do bright lights, especially artificial light. Bright light should be dimmed a at least an hour before sleep, and bright blue light in particular should be avoided a couple of hours before bed.
Chronic sleep deprivation is often connected to excessive blue light intake. Blue light from screens can seriously affect melatonin levels and circadian rhythms.
Does Blue Light Cause Sleep Disturbances?
Blue light is a natural part of the light spectrum, and most of our exposure to it comes from the sun. Exposure to blue light is not an issue in and of itself. The problem isn't being exposed to it, it's when that exposure happens.
A lot of sleep disorders stem from a disbalance in the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the natural sleep-wake cycle of the body. It consists of a series of metabolic and hormonal processes which are all governed by the sleep hormone melatonin.
Melatonin production increases and decreases at certain times, rendering a person sleepy or waking them up. These changes in melatonin production are triggered by exposure to certain wavelengths of natural light.
Blue light is prevalent during the day, as it occurs in natural sunlight. Exposure to blue light plays a beneficial role in the circadian cycle when it happens early in the day as it makes you feel more awake and energized.
Problems arise because of the light that you are exposed to in the evening. Screens from most devices emit bright artificial light of blue wavelengths. Artificial blue light in the evening can seriously affect serum melatonin levels and the sleep-wake cycle. This can contribute to the development of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
What Can You Do to Improve Sleep Quality?
There are several simple ways to get better sleep. There is no need to reach for sleeping pills. All you need is a set of a few simple rules, and the discipline to follow them.
Have a Set Bedtime
For optimal sleep, it's important to respect the natural sleep cycle, which means going to bed early and waking up early. Having a set bed and wake time also helps.
Leave the Screens Outside of Your Bedroom
Restricting screen time in the evening, especially an hour or two before bedtime will minimize the negative influences of blue light.
If that is not an option, consider wearing a pair of blue light blockers that will protect you from the harmful effects of blue light.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
If you can, sleep in a cool, dark room. Blackout curtains are a great addition to the bedroom because they can block the light pollution coming from the outside.
However, if possible, opt for automatic curtains or blinds with a timer, so that they let the morning light in. That way you can wake up naturally, without the stress of an alarm clock.
Exercise is an excellent way to deal with various sleep disorders. It helps both with falling and staying asleep. Because regular exercise can also help you fight weight gain, it is one of the most effective ways to deal with sleep apnea, which is commonly associated with excessive weight.
Boost Your Melatonin with Red Light Therapy for Sleep
Red light therapy can also help, especially if you are struggling with circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Red light therapy for sleep provides beneficial doses of red light that can help reset the circadian rhythm.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
If red light therapy sounds like something out of this world, that's because it was first discovered by NASA. This technology was pioneered by the space agency as a way to stimulate plant growth.
Soon NASA scientists discovered that not only were their plants thriving, so were their astronauts. Red light was helping their wounds and injuries heal faster and was contributing to their overall health.
Red light therapy has come a long way since then. Research has shown that red light therapy is a completely safe treatment with numerous benefits. Among other conditions, this treatment, also known as low level laser therapy, can also be your key to a good night's sleep.
Red Light Therapy and the Circadian Rhythm
Red light and sleep have a complex connection related to the circadian rhythms. Red light stimulates melatonin production and leads to feelings of sleepiness. This is because red light naturally occurs in highest concentration at sunset.
Simply put, red light wavelengths are a signal to the brain to start producing more melatonin because the day is winding down and it's time to rest. That is why you feel tired in the evening, and energized in the morning when sun rises and stimulates the brain with blue light.
Research has shown that red light improves sleep quality and endurance performance. Red light therapy is also a good tool to prevent sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is that grogginess that you sometimes experience in the morning - the feeling that it's difficult to wake up. Exposure to red light reduces that feeling.
Apart from using red light therapy for sleep, you can also use red light as ambient light before bedtime to signal to your brain to start relaxing.
How to Use Red Light Therapy for Sleep Issues
Nowadays, red light devices are small and portable, which makes them perfect for home use. A red light therapy device does not emit UV rays and is completely safe, with no adverse effects.
The best way to enhance sleep is to use red light treatment in the evening. It will help you fall and stay asleep. This treatment can be used daily, as a gentle, natural support on your road to better sleeping habits and more restful sleep.
Infraredi devices have a special dimming mode, which was designed specifically to help you relax and improve the quality of your sleep.
If you commonly experience sleep inertia, it can also be beneficial to wake up to red light. Exposure to red light through closed eyelids significantly lowers the chances of experiencing this unpleasant feeling. This is because red light also occurs in nature at sunrise, and it is nature's gentle alarm clock that signals to the brain it's time to wake up.
Getting up at dawn to soak in naturally occurring wavelengths of red lights might not be realistic for everyone, but a red light therapy home device is a great and easy cheat for that.
Red light is a safe and simple solution for sleep problems. Just a few minutes of daily relaxation with soothing red light therapy can bring you restful, medication-free sleep.
Infraredi has been helping people improve their quality of sleep
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At Infraredi, we have a range of devices to help improve your sleep
Many of our customers experience an improvement in falling asleep and the quality of their sleep after using Infraredi each night. The Flex Series devices below allow you to dim the brightness of the Light at night, perfect for use in your living room or bedroom just before sleep.
If you'd like assistance in choosing the best device for you, we recommend taking our quiz below, or contacting us via Live Chat.