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Red Light Therapy - Why and how?
Table of contents
- What is Red Light Therapy?
- Benefit of Light Therapy Lamps
- Light Density: the 'Power' of the Lamp
- How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device?
- How to do light therapy from home (with the right device)
- Our Recommendations
Light plays an important role in biohacking. We need sunshine for many vital processes, such as Vitamin D production, but we also need dark nights for getting good quality sleep (melatonin is produced when light decreases in the evenings). It’s also important to get the right kind of light at the right time of the circadian rhythm; bright sunshine in the mornings and no blue light in the evenings. Natural light is the best source but in some cases devices, such as red light therapy lamps, create unique exposure that may help your body in many different ways.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red Light Therapy (RLT), also called photobiomodulation, is the use of light as a tool to improve the healing ability and function of the body. Specific wavelengths of red and infrared light are most commonly used. Red light therapy uses certain frequencies, irradiance, and energy density to supply your body with the energy it needs to heal itself and perform better.
Benefits of Light Therapy Lamps
Red and near infrared (NIR) light generate heat radiation and penetrate deep into the body, down to the bones and joints. Red and NIR light stimulate your mitochondria to make more energy and increase blood flow. With this additional energy, cells and tissues repair themselves faster. That’s why red light therapy may help with muscle and skin recovery and inflammation.
Wavelengths and their potential benefits
Yellow, red and near-infrared light at specific wavelengths have been studied the most. Wavelength is expressed in nanometers (nm).
As a general rule: longer wavelength light penetrates deeper into the body. The brightness of the lamp doesn’t matter as much for how deep the light can go for regular light therapy lamps.
Yellow light - 580 nm
Yellow light doesn’t go very deep into the body and its benefits are mainly found in the skin. If you seek any improvements of skin health, yellow light should be considered.
Red light - 630-660 nm
Red light can enter 1-2 cm into the body. It mostly acts on mitochondria. Mitochondria are sensitive to red light, which activates them. From there, the body is more capable of doing what it already wanted to do: recover, heal, maintain itself, etc. Its effects reach into muscles and connective tissues. Helps with increased circulation, muscle recovery and wound healing.
Near Infrared (NIR) light - 850 nm
Infrared light is heat energy. It isn’t visible to our eyes, but it gives off warmth that we can feel. A light therapy device that uses NIR light will give off a slight warmth. NIR can reach as deep as bones and into joints.
Light setting: pulsating or steady
There are also benefits to pulsing light; it stimulates cells and mitochondria for accelerated recovery. On the other hand, continuous lighting has more of a calming and soothing effect on cells, helping to reduce pain and inflammation.
Light density: the 'power' of the lamp
An important property of a light therapy lamp is the light density. This means how much light energy you receive on a specific area during a specific time. The higher the light density, the shorter treatment time will be. You can increase light density by placing the lamp closer to the body. The manufacturer should specify the light density when the lamp is used as directed.
How to choose a Red Light Therapy Device?
You should consider a few points to narrow down the increasingly growing selection of photobiomodulation lamps to see which ones fit your needs.
- What will the device be used for? Your desired goals determine which light colour(s) are needed.
- How many different light types will you use? Also check what is the density and wavelengths.
- How big is the intended treatment area? Light therapy devices range from full-body (not specific) to extremely focused (wrapping limbs and joints).
- Do you want to travel with the device? Choose a light and compact device, such as the TrueLight Baton Rouge or Scarlet Lux.
- Do you exercise and sometimes get injuries? Then it might be a best solution to choose the FlexBeam that you can wrap around your legs, shoulders, or waist and focus on treating a specific part of the body more intensely.
- What is your budget? If you are getting started with red light therapy, you may want to start with TrueLight Baton Rouge or Scarlet Lux, and later on add more expensive devices when you are more comfortable with the investment.
Obviously, an at home light therapy lamp should be safe. It should only give off the light you want, without any UV light. Look for trusted brands. We have some recommendations for you in this blogpost.
How to do light therapy from home (with the right device)
Light therapy from home is very simple. Read the manufacturer device instructions carefully. Turn the lamp on and direct it to the area of the body you want to treat. The lamp should be at the right distance from your body.
You need to expose your skin to the light for it to have any effect. So make sure no clothing covers your skin from the light.
It is not recommended to look directly into the light. You can close your eyes or wear sunglasses when using the lamp for your face.
Keep session length short and give your body time to process the treatment
More light exposure doesn’t mean more benefit. In fact, too much light in one session or day may cost you all the potential benefits. The body needs to process the effects of the treatment and this can take 24 hours or more.
When you will notice the effects
This depends largely on the effect you are looking to obtain, assuming daily treatment as instructed by the manufacturer. For improvements in recent hurts or injuries, effects are expected within a few days. For conditions that you’ve had longer or for skin improvements, it can take a few weeks.
We test all products ourselves and promote only the ones we are happy with. The strategy is to choose the best from the market and offer only few options that we have shortlisted as the best alternatives out there.
TrueLight by Dave Asprey
Created by Dave Asprey, “The Father of Biohacking”, TrueLight® Technology is a pioneer in red light therapy. The patent-pending red light therapy devices emit a combination of light wavelengths that not only rejuvenate and strengthen from the inside-out, but also help heal the surface of your skin from environmental and UV damage. This proprietary combination includes: two different wavelengths of red light for rejuvenation, near-infrared for strengthening, and yellow light for skin preparation and recovery.
TrueLight products provide the ability to choose from pulsating or steady lights, depending on your needs at any given time. Your sessions can be tailored to concentrate on either healing or pain relief.
TrueLight devices are designed to minimize EMF radiation; for example, the Energy Square emits zero non-native EMF radiation, and even with direct contact only 0.6 milligauss is emitted. This amount is considered safe. As a comparison; when your cell phone rings, it emits 9-15 milligauss.
Recharge Health FlexBeam
Recharge Health FlexBeam is a wearable red light therapy (RLT) device. It uses light at specific wavelengths, irradiance and energy density, which can boost circulation, support recovery and supply the body with energy. FlexBeam is a non-invasive device used also by professional athletes to support their performance and recovery after matches. Direct skin contact makes FlexBeam more effective than light therapy lamps that you hold at a distance.
FlexBeam has been praised for its flexibility, mobility, and targeted use for specific muscle or tissue. You can stack your hacks by meditating while using the red light. But if you want or need to multi-task, FlexBeam allows you to move while having the device strapped around your body. Also, the EMF radiation is very low compared to lower budget red light therapy lamps on the market.
Happy Flexbeam users include athletes and biohackers like Tim Gray, Kris Gethin, Kristin Weitzel, Martin Kremmer and Nico Airone.