LED Light Therapy & Sleep
The detrimental effects of poor quality sleep are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society according to recent research. The benefits of essential oils to help aid a good night’s rest are also well documented, and many are now turning to quality, pure essential oil blends to relieve nervous tension, stress, mild anxiety and sleeplessness.
The elements of sleep:
The human body follows a natural pattern which lasts approximately 24 hours, also known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm can be influenced by factors of the environment, such as lightness and darkness, as well as your genetic make-up. When it’s time to go to sleep, the body will release hormones alerting us that it is time for bed. Abnormalities in this rhythm can lead to sleeping disorders such as insomnia. You’ve likely heard of the two main phases of sleep – REM and non-REM. The REM stage is responsible for processing memories and consolidating information, and it is during this stage you may recall vivid dreams. The non-REM stage allows the body to gently lower the heart rate, temperature and breathing. The purpose of sleep is to offer the body a means of recovery from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It also helps to facilitate learning and memory, and also assists in immune function.
The sleep hormone:
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep, and is produced in the pineal gland, a pea sized gland found just above the middle of the brain. Your body naturally makes more melatonin at night, while the morning will see a drop in your melatonin levels.
What is light therapy?
Light therapy (also known as phototherapy or colour therapy), is a form of complementary therapy, which is premised on the notion that light and colour is able to effect ones mental and physical health. While light does enter through our eyes, it is also able to penetrate through our skin. Studies have shown that certain colours have specific properties which can affect the body in various ways. Therefore, when a particular colour is coupled with light and absorbed by the body, its unique properties have the ability to activate hormones within the brain. These chemical reactions can effect emotion, mood, sleep, impulsiveness and the body’s ability to heal.
Effect of light and colour on sleep:
Ever wondered how our body clocks know when it is time for us to wake up? Well, exposure to light in the morning, particularly blue and green which is found in sunlight, prompts the release of cortisol. This stimulates our body and wakes us up, while inhibiting the release of melatonin. According to the Sleep Health Foundation Org, poor sleep quality is becoming all the more prevalent in today’s society, with 33%-45% of adults in Australia reporting having suffered from inadequate sleep. Studies have shown that poor quality sleep can effect general health and wellbeing, and is linked with increased risk factors for obesity, diabetes and heart disease – not to mention, can exacerbate stress and anxiety. Research suggests that red LED’s are the only man-made form of light which actually helps the production of melatonin within our bodies. Photosensitive cells located within the retina of our eyes, are less sensitive to red wavelengths, causing an uninterrupted drowsy state, ideal for quality sleep.
Tips for cultivating a good night’s sleep:
Your first point of call when trying to set yourself up for a good night’s rest, is to minimise your exposure to blue/green light a couple of hours before going to bed. This means, switching off the TV, smartphone and tablet. Also, don’t be tempted to check your phone in the middle of the night, in the event that you do wake up. These devices should be avoided at all cost, as they emit substantial amounts of blue/green light at the wavelengths which inhibit the release of melatonin, preventing you from becoming drowsy.
A beautiful salt lamp which emits a naturally warm light, or an In Essence diffuser with the red light option, is an ideal light source for your bedside table. These lamps will help your brain prepare for the night ahead and set you up for a good night’s rest. Another great idea is to leave the red light on throughout the night, so in the event that you do wake up, you’ll be able to fall back to sleep again relatively quickly.
For a further benefit, we also recommend adding 6-9 drops of our ie: Sleep Essential Oil Blend to the water in your In Essence diffuser. This is a calming blend of 100% pure Lavender, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile and Valerian essential oils, which have been traditionally used in aromatherapy as a sedative for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with sleeplessness including mild insomnia, nervous tension, restlessness, stress & mild anxiety.
Spend at least 15-20 minutes before bed, basking in the glow of the red light, and breathing in all the relaxing properties of our ie: Sleep Blend. This will help to send a signal to your body that it’s time to get sleepy!
Blue light has a dark side – What is blue light? The effect blue light has on your sleep and more. 2012. Updated 2018. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. [Online].
Dongwook, K and Seonjin, L. Effect of Color Light Stimulation Using LED on Sleep Induction Time. 2017. Department of Healthcare Engineering, Graduate School, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Republic of Korea.
Jiexiu, Z and Ye, T and Jinlei, N and Jincheng, X and Dongsen, L. Red Light and the Sleep Quality and Endurance Performance of Chinese Female Basketball Players. 2012. Sport Biological Center, China Institute of Sport Science, Beijing, China.
Sleep Health Foundation Australia. 2011. Blacktown. Australia. [Online].