Red Light Therapy: Improve Skin, Energy & Sleep
You might’ve heard about red light therapy and its potential to create more youthful, glowing skin, but you may not be aware of all of its health benefits. Red light therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses red low-level wavelengths of light.
It has many health benefits, including a reduction in pain and inflammation, improvement in skin elasticity, skin health, and skin glow, enhanced hair growth, better sleep, and more energy. I love red light therapy, use it personally, and recommend it to my patients, friends, and family regularly.
In this article, you will learn what red light therapy is and what benefits it holds for you. You will learn how to use red light therapy effectively and the best red light therapy device I recommend.
What Is Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy (RLT) is a powerful therapeutic technique and an alternative healing method. It uses red low-level wavelengths of light for a variety of therapeutic purposes, including wound healing, scars, and other skin issues, inflammation, pain, hair growth, and sleep quality (1).
Red light therapy was originally used in the 1990s by scientists to help grow plants in space, because of its ability to promote photosynthesis and plant growth. Further research and experience have found that alterations influence cellular redox state and function and positively affect their photosensitivity resulting in a variety of health benefits.
Today it is widely for the listed therapeutic benefits. It is used in medical settings for skin conditions, wounds, and chemotherapy side effects, in salons for cosmetic skin concerns, and even in personal home settings for any desired benefits (1, 2).
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Red light therapy is a low-level laser therapy that is a form of photobiomodulation. Photobiomodulation refers to using light to modulate our biology. This process exposes your body to low wavelength red lights that penetrate deep into your skin. Unlike ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, RLT is safe and doesn’t burn your skin.
You won’t get a tan or get a sunburn, instead, you receive all the benefits of the red light deep inside on a cellular level when standing or sitting several inches from an RLT device. This process may help to increase cellular energy and antioxidants in your body.
Research has shown that through red light therapy, the mitochondria in the skin cells are able to soak up the beneficial light particles, create more ATP energy, and able to fuel all cells with energy with it. Since your body is able to use this extra energy for rejuvenation and repair, this energy provided to your cells may contribute to many of the positive benefits of RLT (2).
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy has several potential benefits. In fact, scientists have found that red light therapy may have some benefits that have been limited photosynthetic organisms and specialized photoresponsive cells.
Due to the fact that light interacts with all the cells of our body, RLT has profound influence on many systems of the body. Let’s take a look at them (2).
Supports Collagen Production
Collagen is the primary structural protein in the body. It is found in skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, and teeth. It is built up of tightly bound amino acids that help to hold your body together. Collagen is important for your skin because it ensures its elasticity and reduces wrinkles. Collagen, however, is also important for a healthy gut, mood, hair, nails, ligaments, and bones. To learn more about the importance and benefits of collagen, red this article.
The natural red wavelengths in red light therapy provide a boost of collagen production in your body. Research on the skin health benefits of RLT has found that red light may increase collagen production and increase intradermal collagen density. The same study has also found that RLT may promote fibroblast production which helps the creation of collagen in your body (2, 3).
Reduces Inflammation and Pain
Red light therapy is also incredibly beneficial for pain and inflammation. According to a systemic review and meta-analysis evaluating low-level laser therapy for musculoskeletal disorders in adults, RLT may reduce pain when used regularly and a recommended dose.
Another study has discussed the benefits of this therapy on inflammation. It seems that it improves inflammatory and inflammation-related chronic health issues, including psoriasis, tendonitis, obesity, arthritis, and autoimmune thyroiditis (4, 5).
Red light therapy may be particularly beneficial if you have arthritis or other joint-related inflammation or pain. A meta-analysis looked at the benefits of red light therapy. Scientists looked at 13 trials. 212 patients received randomized to laser, 174 patients to placebo laser, and 68 patients active laser on one of their hands and placebo on their other hand. Treatment lasted from 4 to 10 weeks with follow-ups to 3 months.
Researchers have found that RLT was effective for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis with few side effects. Another randomized double-blind study has found that RLT may benefit knee osteoarthritis and compliance with rehabilitation exercises (6, 7).
Improves Skin Conditions
One of the main reasons people use red light therapy is for its skin health benefits. A study on the benefits of the stimulating, repair, and skin benefits of RLT found that it may increase collagen production, fibroblast production, mRNA and circulation between skin cells. As a result, RLT may help skin elasticity and facial texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and lower free radical damage (2).
Red light therapy may also help to treat acne. Just like sunlight it may reduce affect sebum production. However, too much sun exposure can be problematic because of the ultraviolet (UV) and UVB rays, making RLT a great option. Another study has found that it may improve complexion and the overall feeling of the skin, and help to rejuvenate skin cells (2, 3).
Stimulates Mitochondrial Health
The mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells. They are small organelles that are the center of cellular energy in your body. Researchers have found that one of the main benefits of red light therapy is that it helps to stimulate mitochondrial health and help your mitochondria to create more energy. This happens because the red and near-infrared lights interconnect with certain photoreceptors called cytochrome c oxidase within your cells.
This process allows the mitochondria to use oxygen more efficiently which results in the production of more ATP. ATP is the molecular unit of currency for the intracellular energy transfer process. It is a complex organic chemical that supplies your living cells with energy to help bodily processes, including chemical synthesis, nerve function, and muscle contraction. More energy and better mitochondrial health mean better health and function (2, 8, 9).
Improves Circadian Rhythm & Sleep Quality
Red light therapy may be a natural and effective sleep aid that improves your circadian rhythm and sleep quality. Exposure to red light may help your body to adjust its circadian rhythm resulting in physical, mental, and behavioral changes and benefits. A study on female basketball players has found that using red light therapy for 14 days for 30 minutes each day resulted in better sleep quality and improved endurance performance based on melatonin release and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire.
Another study on different color temperatures has found that red light therapy may be beneficial for sleep. They looked at exposure to different color temperatures before research participants spent sleeping in darkness. Melatonin production and body temperature during sleep was different for each light and has shown improvements for RLT (10, 11).
Supports Hair Growth
If you are looking to grow beautiful hair or simply want to grow more or better quality hair, red light therapy may be an option. About 50 percent of man over 40 and 75 percent of women over 65 suffer from Androgenetic Alopecia, a common form of hair loss. Research has found that light therapy may benefit this population (12, 13).
A study on 90 participants between ages 18 and 70 found that low-level red light therapy may help people with alopecia, or spot bolding. Participants who received red light therapy of 665 nanometers (nm) and 808 nm improved their hair density compared to the control group. A further meta-analysis of 8 clinical studies of 11 double-blind randomized trials has found that red light therapy may result in a significant increase in hair growth and hair density (15).
Promotes Wound Healing & Tissue Repair
One of the most commonly known and used benefits of red light therapy is wound healing. It has been well-researched and has been used in professional settings in order to improve wound healing and tissue repair.
According to a review of 68 studies on the biological effects of red light therapy on wound healing, it may help to reduce inflammation in the skin cells, increase collagen and fibroblast production, and help angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth stimulation. The review concluded that red light therapy is beneficial for wound healing and tissue repair, however, treatment protocol, wavelength, and the dose may be important and determine the outcome (16).
How To Use Red Light Therapy
Using red light therapy is simple and easy to fit into your self-care routine. You can set up your red light therapy device on a chair or table or hang it on the wall or a door. Remove your clothes before using the device. Undergarments, such as underwear and socks, they won’t interfere with the treatment.
Position yourself 4 to 6 inches away from your red light therapy device for best results. You can sit or stand, it’s up to your preference.
Treat each area that needs attention for 5 to 15 minutes. At first, I recommend starting with 1 to 2 minutes with each area. Slowly increase the time over the next few weeks as your body gets used to the red light. I personally use the full body RLT and NIR at the same time for 12-20 minutes each day with 6-10 minutes on each side of my body.
Use your red light therapy device four to ten times a week depending on your symptoms. If you use it several times a day, allow at least 6 hours between treatments.
I recommend consistent, full-body use with special attention to your specific problem areas. Remember, when it comes to RLT, consistency is key. For long-term and full-body benefits, use the light therapy regularly.
Best Red Light Therapy Device
If you are looking for a high-quality red light therapy device, I personally use and highly recommend Mito Red Light Therapy Device. It is a third-party tested device with the highest power on the market.
Most red light therapy devices use only 2 watt or 3 watt LEDs, whereas Mito Red Light Therapy uses 5 watt LEDs for the best results. You will experience higher irradiance for better results in less time. I love that it comes in different sizes for your convenience. It’s affordable yet effective. I recommend that you try it.
Red light therapy is a popular therapeutic technique that uses red low-level wavelengths of light. RLT has many benefits, including a reduction in pain and inflammation, improvement in skin elasticity, quality, and health, improved hair growth, better sleep, and more energy.
I love red light therapy, and I hope that you will find it beneficial as well. Follow my tips on how to use RLT regularly to improve your skin, sleep, energy, and overall health.