Red Light Therapy for Sleep

Red Light Therapy for Sleep & Insomnia: How It Works

Table of Contents

Introduction to Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to promote various health benefits. It has gained popularity in recent years for its potential to improve sleep and alleviate insomnia, a common sleep disorder. Red light therapy works by stimulating the mitochondria in cells, promoting cellular energy production and enhancing cellular function.

Historical Background and Development

The use of light as a therapeutic modality dates back thousands of years, with ancient civilizations recognizing its healing properties. In the modern era, red light therapy has been extensively studied and developed for its therapeutic applications. Red light therapy for dogs and animals has even been proven beneficial. Researchers have explored its effects on various health conditions, including sleep disorders and insomnia.1

Understanding Red Light Therapy

Red Light Therapy vs. Infrared Therapy

Red light therapy and infrared therapy are often used interchangeably, but they differ in terms of the wavelengths used. Red light therapy typically utilizes wavelengths between 630 to 700 nanometers, while infrared therapy uses longer wavelengths between 700 to 1,000 nanometers. Both therapies have unique benefits and applications, but for sleep improvement, red light therapy has shown promising results.

Red Light Therapy vs. Sunlight

While sunlight contains a broad spectrum of light, including red and near-infrared wavelengths, red light therapy specifically targets these wavelengths for therapeutic purposes. Unlike sunlight, red light therapy devices emit light at specific frequencies that are optimized for therapeutic effects. This targeted approach allows for controlled and precise application of light therapy.

How Red Light Affects the Body

Red light therapy affects the body at a cellular level by stimulating the mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy within cells. When exposed to red and near-infrared light, mitochondria absorb the light energy and convert it into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of cells. This increased energy production promotes cellular repair, reduces inflammation, and enhances overall cellular function. 

Learn more about what that means for red light therapy for stretch marks, red light therapy for acne, and more in our blog.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Sleep

Improving Sleep Disorders

Red light therapy has shown promising results in improving various sleep disorders, including insomnia. By promoting cellular energy production and reducing inflammation, red light therapy helps regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality. Research suggests that red light therapy can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, increase overall sleep duration, and enhance sleep efficiency.2

Maintaining Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms play a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles and overall bodily functions. Red light exposure in the morning or during the day can help reset and maintain circadian rhythms, promoting a healthy sleep-wake cycle and reducing sleep deprivation. By aligning the body's natural rhythms with external light cues, red light therapy can help regulate sleep patterns and promote restful sleep.

Supporting Natural Melatonin Secretion

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Red light treatment has been shown to stimulate melatonin production, promoting its natural secretion in the body. By enhancing your melatonin level, red light therapy can help regulate sleep patterns and promote a more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Pain Relief and Sleep Quality

Chronic pain can significantly impact sleep quality and contribute to insomnia. Red light therapy has been found to have analgesic effects, reducing pain and discomfort in various conditions. By relieving pain, red light therapy can improve sleep quality, allowing individuals to achieve a deeper and more restorative sleep.

Combatting Jet Lag

Jet lag occurs when traveling across multiple time zones, disrupting the body's internal clock and sleep cycle. Red light therapy has shown promise in alleviating the symptoms of jet lag and helping the body adjust to new time zones. By regulating circadian rhythms and promoting melatonin secretion, red light therapy can assist in overcoming the effects of jet lag and promoting better sleep.

Addressing Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can significantly impact sleep quality and overall well-being. Red light therapy has been studied as a potential treatment for these conditions, as it can help regulate mood and improve sleep patterns. By promoting cellular energy production and reducing inflammation, red light therapy may help alleviate symptoms of depression and SAD, leading to improved sleep and overall mental well-being.

Safe Usage and Considerations

When using red light therapy for sleep, it is essential to follow certain guidelines to ensure safety and maximize benefits. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Start with short sessions: Begin with shorter treatment sessions, typically 10-20 minutes, and gradually increase the duration over time.
  • Use eye protection: Wear appropriate eye protection, such as goggles or glasses specifically designed for red light therapy, to protect your eyes from potential harm.
  • Maintain proper distance: Position yourself at the recommended distance from the red light therapy device to ensure optimal light absorption without overheating the skin. Additionally, a common question often arises, "does red light therapy work through clothes?" It can penetrate clothes made with fabrics like cotton and polyester. Wearing thin clothes may also help prevent the skin from overheating.
  • Consistency is key: Consistently use red light therapy treatments for sleep to experience long-term benefits. Incorporate it into your nightly routine or as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While red light therapy is generally considered safe, there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Photosensitivity: Some individuals may have increased sensitivity to light. If you have a known sensitivity to light or are taking medications that increase sensitivity, consult with a healthcare professional before using red light therapy.
  • Eye conditions: If you have a pre-existing eye condition or are prone to eye-related issues, consult with an eye care professional before using red light therapy.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before using red light therapy, as there is limited research on its effects during pregnancy.
  • Skin conditions: If you have any active skin conditions or wounds, consult with a healthcare professional before using red light therapy to ensure it is safe for your specific condition.
Red Light Therapy for Sleep

Practical Application of Red Light Therapy

Best Practices for Using Red Light Therapy for Sleep

To optimize the benefits of red light therapy for sleep, consider the following best practices:

  • Use it in the evening: Incorporate red light therapy into your nighttime routine, ideally a few hours before bedtime, to promote relaxation and prepare your body for sleep.
  • Create a calming environment: Use red light therapy in a serene and comfortable environment, free from distractions and any bright light.
  • Combine with other sleep-enhancing practices: Red light therapy can be complemented with other sleep-enhancing practices, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a dark and quiet sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is key when using red light therapy for sleep. Incorporate it into your nightly routine and use it regularly for optimal results.

Tips for Incorporating it into a Nightly Routine

Here are some tips for seamlessly incorporating red light therapy into your nightly routine:

  • Set a dedicated time: Choose a specific time each evening to use red light therapy, making it a consistent part of your routine.
  • Unwind and relax: Before starting your red light therapy session, engage in relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, or practicing deep breathing exercises to help calm your mind and prepare for sleep.
  • Use it as a wind-down ritual: Make red light therapy the last step in your wind-down ritual before bed. This can signal to your body that it's time to relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Combine with other sleep-promoting practices: Pair red light therapy with other sleep-promoting practices, such as avoiding screens before bed, keeping a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing a bedtime routine.

Lifepro's Red Light Therapy Devices

Lifepro offers a range of red light therapy devices designed to promote better sleep and overall well-being. Their devices incorporate the optimal wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to deliver targeted benefits. Lifepro's red light therapy devices are user-friendly, portable, and safe for at-home use. With Lifepro's commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, you can trust their products to support your sleep and wellness journey.

In conclusion, red light therapy offers a promising approach to improving sleep and alleviating insomnia. By harnessing the power of specific wavelengths of light, red light therapy promotes cellular energy production, regulates circadian rhythm, and supports natural melatonin secretion. With safe usage guidelines and consistent application, red light therapy can be an effective tool for enhancing sleep quality and overall well-being. Incorporate red light therapy into your nightly routine and experience the transformative benefits it offers for sleep and insomnia.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new therapy or treatment.


  1. Videnovic A, Klerman EB, Wang W, Marconi A, Kuhta T, Zee PC. Timed Light Therapy for Sleep and Daytime Sleepiness Associated With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Neurol. 2017;74(4):411-418. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.5192
  2. Zhao J, Tian Y, Nie J, Xu J, Liu D. Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players. J Athl Train. 2012;47(6):673-678. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-47.6.08
  3. Costello A, Linning-Duffy K, Vandenbrook C, et al. Effects of light therapy on sleep/wakefulness, daily rhythms, and the central orexin system in a diurnal rodent model of seasonal affective disorder. J Affect Disord. 2023;332:299-308. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2023.04.012
  4. Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation for traumatic brain injury and stroke [published correction appears in J Neurosci Res. 2019 Mar;97(3):373]. J Neurosci Res. 2018;96(4):731-743. doi:10.1002/jnr.24190


Joel Gottehrer

Joel Gottehrer is the Co-Founder of Lifepro Fitness and has dedicated his life to helping people transform theirs. With over 12 years of experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and owner of two personal training studios, Joel has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to helping transform lives. After suffering from physical injuries, Joel and his business partner, Abraham Brach, came together with a common goal to alleviate the pain caused by their injuries.

They continued to find themselves disappointed with the results stemming from various products promising to relieve their pain, and with that – Lifepro Fitness was born. Joel's mission is to have a positive impact on millions of lives with the Lifepro brand. Whether it's finding new and innovative ways to help people recover from injuries or developing products to improve overall wellness, Joel is always looking for ways to push the boundaries. Thanks to his commitment to help people live their lives free of pain, Lifepro has been able to do this for thousands of people since its founding in 2017.

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