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How To Incorporate Red Light Therapy Into Your Sleep Routine

How To Incorporate Red Light Therapy Into Your Sleep Routine

Red light therapy burst into our homes and skin care routines in 2024. If you haven't heard of it, you will soon. Worldwide, interest in this trend has grown over five years, but 2024 is the highest recorded year. This is the year of red light therapy in your home. But what does that mean? And can red light therapy help you sleep?

Red light therapy is a skincare technique used to help treat conditions such as psoriasis and acne. However, it is growing in popularity for treating wrinkles and stretch marks. It is also said to reduce inflammation, repair muscles, and improve ageing, becoming one of the most popular trends in 2024.

In just 12 months, UK searches for 'red light therapy' have doubled, hitting record peaks in May, with interest expected to grow even more in the coming months. In the US, those exact searches have increased by 76%. Worldwide, this is even higher, with a record 79% increase in interest over the last five years.

The list of celebrities switching to red light therapy also continues to increase. Famous fans include the eternally youthful Jennifer Anniston, Salma Hayek, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and many more.

In line with this popularity, searches for 'red light therapy mask' have risen by 656% in the last year, indicating people are keen to experience this trend at home. So, what can it do for you? And can it give you a better night's sleep?

Person wearing a red light therapy mask

How does red light therapy work?

Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment used at home or in a salon. It uses very low levels of near-infrared light on the whole body or specific areas of the body, such as the face, if you wear a red light mask. The low levels of infrared light do not generate heat; most at-home devices only permeate up to around 3 mm of tissue.

But what are the benefits of red light therapy on your nighttime routine?

Red light can help produce melatonin, your 'sleep hormone'

Melatonin is often called your 'sleep hormone' and naturally occurs when you begin to sleep. As it gets darker and closer to bedtime, your body releases melatonin, which reduces as it gets lighter. This is also known as your circadian rhythm.

However, today, with the rise in technology and other nighttime disturbances, our circadian rhythms are not as regulated as they used to be. If you are struggling with sleep, red light could help.

Red light can help stimulate the production of melatonin, which is essential for trying to sleep. One study found that after 14 days of 30 minutes of red light therapy each night, participants recorded higher melatonin levels and better sleep quality.

Red light could regulate your sleep-wake cycle

As mentioned above, as red light can help stimulate melatonin production, your sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm could become better regulated. If you shut off your devices that emit blue light one to two hours before bed and change lights to red in your home, you could be more likely to fall asleep. Therefore, your cortisol levels should also peak naturally when it comes to waking.

If you disrupt this 24-hour cycle with the wrong light, you could end up in a circle of disturbed sleep.

However, you mustn't opt for a red light that is too bright, as that could have the opposite effect and hinder melatonin production. Instead, choose a darker red light that can pop into your bedroom while winding down for the night.

Red light can reduce that groggy feeling in the morning

Sleep inertia is often referred to as the groggy feeling you experience when you wake up, especially if you have snoozed your alarm for 10 minutes, fallen back to sleep and woken abruptly at the noise of your alarm. But red light is reported to reduce that feeling.

One study tested this theory, with a control group experiencing dim lights and another group exposed to red light through closed eyelids via a red light mask. The group exposed to red light were less sleepy when waking, helping to reduce the feeling of sleep inertia upon waking.

Red light therapy can help psoriasis, which can cause sleep disorders

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder and chronic disorder. Around 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis, and sleep disruption is a common side effect of psoriasis. Studies have shown that sleep disorders are frequent during psoriasis flare-ups, with an alteration in the quality of life for those experiencing the symptoms.

It is thought that red light therapy is an effective treatment for psoriasis and other skin issues, such as acne. It can help reduce flare-ups and improve sleep quality due to reduced symptoms.

Woman laid under a red light

How to use red light therapy at home

There are two different red light therapies: visible red light and invisible near-infrared light. Visible red light does not penetrate as deep as near-infrared and affects the skin level, whereas the deeper the light goes, the more it impacts the muscles and joint pain. Therefore, it depends on the level you want and need for your red light therapy. However, there are things you can do to get your room ready for your new treatment.

1. Make sure you have a comfortable space for red light therapy

When trying red light therapy, you must have a comfortable space. The best place to do this would be your bed, where you can position yourself comfortably and wind down for bed simultaneously. You can also get red light therapy mats to place on your bed and use before sleep. We recommend keeping them in a place that does not gather dust and avoid placing them on the floor, especially when using a mask on your face.

2. Switch your bulbs to red lights in your bedroom

While not quite the same, red lights can help promote sleep instead of bright white lights. With that in mind, switch your bulbs to red lights that change as it gets darker to encourage your brain to wind down. You can make this part of your nightly routine so that you begin to recognise the red light as the start of attempting to sleep.

3. You should clean your red light mask after every use

If you use your red light mask regularly, you must keep it clean - particularly as this is sitting on your face, and you don't want to transfer germs from where you store it to your face. After every use, keep it clean by wiping down the mask with water-based wipes. If there are any stains, you can remove them with rubbing alcohol.

If you are looking for more sleep tips, check out our advice on how sleeping on your side could benefit your gut health.

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