Is Red Light Therapy the New Melatonin?
By Sydney Kronfle, pH Labs Researcher & Contributor
Ever since having my son, who is now just 16 months old, let’s just say sleep has definitely been lacking (both quantity of sleep and quality of sleep). I know that this is something I have to fix in order to be my healthiest self.
“Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is vital for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater likelihood of death.”
Not to mention, a lack of sleep can wreak havoc on the immune system and even lead to unwanted weight gain.
Part of my sleep issues are not within my control sometimes. I cannot help it if my son wakes up at 3AM and needs a diaper change. There are, however, still many factors within my control. I do my best to practice good sleep hygiene, have a bedtime routine and make sure that I am exercising (even if it’s just a walk) and getting sunlight, which helps the circadian rhythm work at its best, daily. I also make sure that I am getting adequate magnesium (a mineral important for sleep).
Still, even when my son peacefully sleeps through the night, I have been finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It may be a little bit of new mom anxiety. I’ve also always been a light sleeper, so any little shuffle I hear on the baby monitor or trying to get back to bed after an ungodly hour diaper change have been some real challenges. Taking melatonin has helped at times, but I didn’t want to depend on this and I knew I needed something more.
I’m very lucky to work for a company where I have easy access to health and wellness tools. My boss and founder of Proactive Health Labs Joy Stephenson-Laws suggested I try red light therapy when I discussed my sleep issues with her.
A healthy tanning bed.
Red light therapy (RLT) is a form of low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) and is offered in many medical office settings. Think of it as like a healthy tanning bed. During a session, the light delivers wavelengths of natural red and near infrared light. It’s like the wavelengths you get from sunlight without the harmful UV rays. RLT is reported to improve the appearance of skin and promote healing. It is also able to stimulate bone growth and recovery as well as soft tissue repair. It is so powerful and effective that NASA used RLT to keep astronauts healthy while in space.
I could definitely use some TLC in the skin department as well, so I was all about trying red light therapy. As far as red light therapy and sleep are concerned, studies have suggested that RLT increases serum melatonin and improves sleep quality.
Nonetheless, I was a bit skeptical that just one 12 minute session of RLT would make a difference. But I also figured what was the harm in trying? I’ve never stepped foot in a tanning bed and I am a bit claustrophobic, so I was a little hesitant to lay in the RLT bed. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and relaxing it felt as soon as I laid down and let the red light penetrate my skin. The 12 minutes went by quickly, and I was done! I was told to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins and improve my lymphatic system, and I was on my way.
Surprisingly, that night, I have to say that I honestly slept remarkably well. I fell asleep with ease, and I was able to have about 7 consecutive hours of sleep. I could also tell that the quality of my sleep that night had improved.
One 12-minute session at Chilltonic is $50 (and you can buy bundles which further reduces the individual session price. I highly recommend!) This was the best 50 bucks I have spent in a while. If you think it is something you cannot fit into your budget, think about how much you spend on items at Amazon or Starbucks. Investing in your sleep and overall health and wellness is priceless at the end of the day.
I will be getting more red light therapy treatments. Please note that if you are pregnant or diabetic, red light therapy is not recommended. As always, speak with your doctor or a competent healthcare professional.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.