What are the health benefits of red light therapy? How does red light therapy work? What is the difference between near infrared light and far infrared light?
What is red light therapy?
Before I tell you about all the benefits of red light therapy and all the improvements I have seen in my own health and wellness, let me back up and start by telling you what red light therapy even is. You’ve probably seen me and a whole host of other people you follow, standing in front of our red lights, illuminated by the red glow, but what’s it all for? Is it the latest trend among bloggers and influencers? Or is there actual science behind it? Red light therapy has been tested and studied across hundreds of peer reviewed clinical studies.
Red light therapy, or photobiomodulation, delivers red low-level wavelengths of light to your body. Red light therapy has been used to help alleviate a variety of symptoms and promote overall health. People are using it for a multitude of different reasons – to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, help with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, etc. But the benefits go so far beyond just skin issues. Light therapy can literally enhance all aspects of health and wellness. I will get into more of the benefits below. But first, let’s talk about the different types of red light and how each one is different.
What is the difference between near infrared light and far infrared light?
Different parts of the body respond to different wavelengths of light. The longer the wavelength, the deeper the wavelength can penetrate different cells within the body. There are different types of red light, and depending on the wavelength of the light, it falls under either far infrared or near infrared.
Red wavelengths range between 630-700 nm and are visible to the human eye on the electromagnetic scale. This range is perfect for assisting with surface issues on the skin.
Near infrared (NIR) wavelengths go a bit further, falling between 700 and 1200 nm and are not visible to the human eye on the electromagnetic scale. This range goes beneath the skin to assist with healing, cellular regeneration, and pain relief.
Using a form of red light therapy that combines both far and near infrared wavelengths helps promote the full range of red light therapy benefits. The more surface area of your body you can cover, the more your cells absorb natural light to reap the benefits of red light therapy.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Now let’s talk about some of the benefits of red light therapy beyond just surface level skin issues and aging. It really works — just type in “before and after red light therapy”, “red light therapy reviews” or “red light therapy testimonials” into google and you’ll see hundreds of stories and images from real people who found health and healing with the incorporation of red light therapy into their routine.
Some of the health benefits of red light therapy include:
- Supports healthy skin and anti-aging efforts
- Promotes fat loss
- Assists with muscle recovery
- Boosts mood and helps reduce stress
- Promotes hair growth
- Helps with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- Promotes testosterone production in men
- Promotes hormone balance in women
- Alleviates joint pain and stiffness
- Diminishes fine lines and wrinkles
- Supports sleep optimization
- Helps prevent recurring cold sores
- Promotes wound healing
- Helps fade old scars and stretch marks
- Assists in brain health, cognitive function, memory, and learning
- Repairs sun damage
- Oxygenation of tissues
- Increases circulation
- Promotes relaxation
- Supports healthy thyroid function
- Counteracts the negative effects of blue light
- Promotes cellular energy
- Aids in recovery from traumatic brain injuries
- Decreases inflammation
- Speeds recovery from training and in turn increases physical performance
- Helps regulate Circadian Rhythm
- Benefits patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Promotes collagen production
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of red light therapy is that it helps reduce stress. You can do everything right, but if your body is in a heightened state of stress, and cortisol levels are constantly increased, pursuing optimal health will always be a challenge. Stress wrecks havoc on every system in the body and can actually be the root cause of many of the symptoms listed above. You don’t always feel or realize the stressors that are impacting your overall health and wellness. Stress can be a silent killer.
But what about blue light? Is blue light bad for you?
If you’re spending a lot of time in front of a screen, either phone or computer, you are being exposed to a lot of blue light.
Blue light coexists with red light naturally in sunlight. Our bodies evolved to use the two together to metabolize the positive effects of both wavelengths. We need blue light (in conjunction with red light) to function properly. Blue light helps us feel awake, and helps regulate a lot of hormonal functions within the body.
Blue light becomes problematic when it occurs in isolation, without red light, and this happens a lot in the modern world. Our circadian rhythm gets all confused, that’s why you may have a hard time falling asleep after scrolling through your Instagram feed on your phone, or watching a movie in bed.
Think about how many of us are glued to our phones throughout the day. We rely on technology for so much: navigation, research, communication, entertainment … technology is a necessity. But it is also something we, as a modern society have grown to have an unhealthy relationship with. I’m not going to demonize all technology, but the constant pressure to be connected and stay updated and plugged in 100% of our waking hours has us all stressed. I would also argue that this amount of online connectivity has brought about a true disconnect in society. We’re not getting good sleep, we’re overwhelmed, and we’re doing a huge disservice to our health as a society.
As someone who works from my computer and phone for most of the day, I have firsthand experience with just how disruptive blue light exposure can be. While I’ve taken measures to reduce my blue light exposure with blue blockers and apps, nothing I’ve done in the past has been as beneficial as red light therapy.
Click here to read more about how red light therapy helps combat the negative effects of blue light.
Thousands of years ago, our bodies were naturally synced to function optimally during daylight hours. We woke up early, went to bed early, and had great sleep hygiene. We didn’t fall asleep with the TV blaring, or have blue light seeping in through our blinds from streetlights. We didn’t have to rely on sleep aids to regulate our sleep schedules, because they were already regulated.
Chances are, if you’ve struggled with sleep in the past, you may have tried supplementing with melatonin. While I’m all for natural options, supplementing with melatonin can disrupt your body’s natural processes. This is why red light therapy is so helpful: red and near infrared photons of natural light can help to increase melatonin production naturally.
Rebalancing red and blue light exposure with red light therapy naturally de-stresses our bodies in many ways. Stress can be really hard to manage. Red light therapy can help promote relaxation and healing within the body, and it only takes 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits.
The biggest changes I’ve noticed since starting red light therapy
So now that I have told you what red light therapy is and shared with you some of the amazing health benefits of red light therapy, let me tell you more about my personal experience with it.
While using Joovv is a new addition to my health and wellness routine, Red light therapy isn’t new to me. I have been regularly using red light therapy for the last 4 years. We also have a far infrared, full body heated mat with jade and tourmaline stones. We have been using it for years and it was my first introduction into the healing world of red light therapy. It was where my research on the topic began. After hearing about Joovv, I was completely ready to jump in because I was already well versed in the benefits. I loved the idea of being able to incorporate this type of treatment in other ways, and also being able to take it with me when we travel by using the Joovv Go
Reduction in inflammation and swelling
I am prone to a lot of inflammation and swelling in my ankles and hands. This is something that I have suffered from for a long time. Sometimes it would look like I didn’t even have ankles at all. It was especially bad when I traveled. I tried everything I could think of to combat it – essential oils, turmeric, rebounding, dry brushing, yoga, exercise, lymphatic massage, etc. Some things worked better than others, but no one thing provided the relief I was ultimately seeking. Then I started using the Joovv Go twice a day for targeted treatment on my ankles and within a couple of weeks it was a night and day difference. I was able to see my ankles again. Even after 18 flights in 36 days during my book tour, my ankles still never swelled up. If that didn’t make me a believer, I don’t know what would.
Better blood circulation
I have had circulation issues in my left leg for years. I have venous insufficiency (the valves in the veins of my leg allow blood to travel backwards instead of upwards towards my heart) and with that has come a lot of numbness, tingling, feeling like my leg is dead, and the swelling and inflammation I mentioned above. Since starting daily red light therapy treatments, not only has the swelling and inflammation improved, but I have not felt any numbness or tingling in my legs. In fact, it feels as though these were never issues at all.
More even skin tone and complexion
My skin has never looked better. I feel like I am aging backwards. The overall tone and complexion of my skin has improved greatly and I have even noticed that some of the older scars I had from teenage acne are barely visible at all anymore.
Much calmer, less stressed and more focused
When I start my morning with a red light session, I feel much calmer, less stressed and more focused throughout the day. In fact, I’ve started taking my coffee with me and turning on my mediation app while I do my red light therapy and it has become the best morning routine ever. I even do yoga in front of my Joovv Elite from time to time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Red Light Therapy
How do you use it and how long does it take?
The best part of red light therapy is that all you need is 10 minutes max a day.
If you’re new to using red light therapy and you’re focusing on detox (hormonal, environmental, or otherwise) you’ll want to start small. 1 to 2 minutes a day on each treatment area, or 1 to 2 minutes a day total if you have a full body panel. Slowly build up from there, adding a minute each day until you work up to a full 10 minutes.
If you have an area that you’d really like to focus on, like a sore joint or any inflammation, you could go up to 15 minutes a day. More time is not more beneficial, because your cells can only absorb so much red light in one sitting.
Position yourself 4 to 6 inches away from your device and just sit still. I like to do a minute meditation or focus on my breathing. It’s best to use your red light device at least 5 times a week; I’ve seen the best results when I use my Joovv daily. Just make sure that you go at least 6 hours between each use so that your cells have time to absorb the red light between sessions.
Can you still get the benefits with clothes on?
Less clothing means more surface area, however, you don’t have to be naked for red light therapy to work. If I’m targeting a specific area, like my ankles, I’ll make sure to remove my socks and lift my pant leg.
For regular daily use, I just sit on my yoga mat in my leggings, most often with a sleeveless shirt. Jon usually does his sessions shirtless. Again, less clothing = more surface area so your body can better absorb the light.
Do you have to wear protective eyewear?
The short answer: no, you don’t have to use protective eyewear. However, there’s no benefit of staring directly into LED lights, and that could cause strain.
If you have glasses or contacts, you can remove them for treatments so that your eyes can get the benefits of red light therapy. If you’ve had LASIK, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider; they may suggest protection.
If you’re just starting out or can’t get comfortable and the red light seems too bright, you can absolutely close your eyes during treatment.
Can you get the same benefits from one of the smaller units as you can the larger modular units?
This completely depends on your reasons behind using red light therapy. A bigger surface area means more light exposure. More exposure allows your body to better absorb red light.
Modular units are best for targeted therapy and for travel. You can also use a larger unit to focus on a specific area depending on how you position yourself in front of your unit.
If you’re just starting out, you can start small. Joov devices are great because you can purchase individual units over time and piece them together based on your needs.
How long does it take to notice a difference?
It depends on why you’re using red light therapy, what you’re looking for in terms of benefits, and your personal health. It also depends on what device you’re using.
For inflammation and joint pain, you can likely see relief within 2 to 3 days of targeted red light therapy. Other benefits depend on your body, but for the most part, daily red light therapy benefits should be obvious within 2-3 months of continuous use.
Is there such thing as too much red light therapy?
While too much exposure won’t necessarily harm you, it’s not going to benefit you. Your cells can only absorb so much light at one time. In order to give your body the opportunity to benefit from red light therapy, you only need to use your Joov device for 10 to 15 minutes max per day. Wait at least 6 hours between each session to give your cells the chance to absorb the light.
In addition to this post on the health benefits of red light therapy, check out some of my other favorite healthy living topics:
- How to get started with essential oils
- Self-Care is not Self-ish
- Health Benefits of Turmeric
- The Complete Guide to Carbs in Alcohol
- What the Science Says About Intermittent Fasting
- DIY All Natural Deodorant Recipe