A Beginner’s Guide to Red Light Therapy at Home

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Did you know that you can get all the benefits of red light therapy at home? Yup, you no longer need to pay hundreds of dollars for a single red light therapy treatment at a fancy spa or pay out of pocket at a qualified doctor’s office.

A woman with short hair poses with her eyes closed, bathed in red and blue lighting.

Let me share more about the fascinating research on red light therapy, what it is, and why it works. Plus, how it’s helped me and how it might help you too.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy (RLT), or “photobiomodulation,” refers to the therapeutic use of specific wavelengths of light. In essence, the process (re)generates biological energy directly from light exposure.

Want to learn more about RLT in detail? My husband recorded not one but TWO epic podcasts with Scott Nelson from Joovv. I highly recommend listening (or watching), so you can learn about all the nitty-gritty details and the real-life, practical application.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

If you think a keto diet feels amazing, wait until you discover how light affects our health and vitality. It’s profound! Specific frequencies can drop inflammation, improve mitochondrial health, provide pain relief, boost mood, and minimize stress.

Rooted in NASA’s research concerning healing wounds and burns, red light therapy is now an FDA-approved treatment we can all benefit from at a consumer level. Many high-end spas offer professional red light therapy services. Some gyms, like Planet Fitness, offer members the use of their devices. 

Personal devices are also available, so you can enjoy all the benefits at the session frequency and length you prefer, all from the comfort of your own home. The best red light devices work with a combination of infrared and near-infrared frequencies, usually falling between 600-900nm.

These specific wavelengths create a biochemical effect in our cells that directly impacts adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In other words, we’re manipulating the basic building blocks of cells and mitochondrial function.

ATP is the energy source of every cell. If we don’t have enough ATP, it’s incredibly difficult to get through the day because we need sufficient ATP for all of our biological processes to work correctly. Photobiomodulation has a positive effect on ATP and gives us more energy to use at the cellular level!

Joovv red light on Tristan.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy

Widely recognized in the beauty industry, red light is one of the most popular methods for healing and rejuvenating skin. While it’s true that RLT does wonders for improving collagen elasticity, minimizing scars, and soothing acne, rosacea, and eczema, there are more than just surface-level benefits. 

People can experience a range of life-changing benefits after consistent red light treatments. I’ll note the main ones here, but this is not a complete list. Common red light therapy benefits include the following.

Chronic Pain Relief

A 2016 study published by the Journal of Neuroinflammation shows that red light therapy significantly lessens the pain of oral mucositis in bone marrow transplant patients. Patients reported much less pain, particularly two weeks after their transplant. This suggests that red light therapy could be a very effective method for managing this kind of chronic pain.

Reduced Inflammation

According to the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, low-level laser therapy is highly effective in reducing muscle inflammation and speeding up recovery. It works by dampening inflammatory responses and boosting natural growth factors and blood flow within muscles, which improves the body’s natural healing processes. 

Slower Aging

Red light therapy can help slow the effects of aging by enhancing collagen production in the skin, which increases elasticity and reduces wrinkles. For example, this clinical trial published by the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy showed significant improvements in the appearance of wrinkles after nine sessions.

A person is sitting in front of a small, white infrared heating device with a glowing red screen.

Better Sleep Quality and Duration

Another possible benefit of red light therapy is improved sleep quality and duration. Red light therapy can improve sleep quality by affecting the body’s melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep. 

A cohort study involving Chinese female basketball players showed that exposure to red light for 30 minutes each evening over two weeks enhanced their sleep quality, increased their serum melatonin levels, and improved endurance performance. These results suggest that red light therapy may help synchronize the body’s circadian rhythms to promote better sleep and overall recovery.

Decrease in Depression and Anxiety

Red light therapy, particularly for treating bipolar depression, has shown promise in boosting mental health. For instance, a 2022 review highlights that it reduces the severity of depressive symptoms effectively, suggesting it could help regulate mood and improve overall emotional well-being. 

This non-invasive therapy offers a compelling option for those looking to manage mood disorders more naturally and with fewer side effects. However, seeking help from a mental health professional first is better.

Improved Cognitive Function

Recent studies show that red light therapy could be an effective supplementary treatment for patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. While studies are currently limited, the results are promising.

For example, a pilot study by the Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience explored using near-infrared light helmets to improve cognition and memory in dementia patients. Results indicated improved executive functioning and a trend toward better EEG measures, which suggests potential benefits for brain health and neuroplasticity. 

Another study on patients with TBIs reported improvements in cognitive function following treatments with red and near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs), applied transcranially to patients with chronic traumatic brain injury. The treatment enhanced their ability to focus and sustain attention, which contributed significantly to cognitive recovery and daily function.

Faster Recovery After High-Intensity Exercise

Here’s some good news for those who engage in high-intensity physical activity like me. Red light therapy may also lead to faster recovery times, as evidenced by this 2017 trial that investigates whether photobiomodulation therapy is more effective than cryotherapy in muscle recovery after high-intensity exercise.

Results indicate that PBMT significantly enhances muscle contraction ability and reduces biochemical markers of muscle and oxidative damage more effectively than cryotherapy. So, it may be a much better way to recover after HIIT.

Red Light Treatment with Breakfast

Breakfast is a great time to sit by the device. Take a look at the video below and see how we do it!

My Experience with Red Light Therapy

Deciding to invest in a personal red light therapy device was a big decision for us. Unfortunately, the good ones aren’t cheap, so we considered all the variables carefully and made an effort to weigh the pros and cons of different options. 

I still remember the first thing I said to my husband after we flicked on our Joovv for the first time in 2017.

Honey, we should have gotten the bigger one!

Feeling an immediate mental calm and a decrease in anxiety was invaluable. My husband introduced RLT for the first time when my son was a newborn. I know using the Joovv for a few short sessions every day was a tremendous help in keeping me relaxed and rested, even after intermittent sleep at a fairly high-stress time.

Now, years later, I continue to use red light regularly to maintain healthy, vibrant skin, a regular sleep cycle, and high cognitive function. It’s honestly something I can’t take off my weekly routine now!

How to Use Red Light Therapy At Home

Now that you know all the potential benefits of red light therapy, it won’t be a surprise if you want to try it right away. However, it can be a hassle to drive back and forth to the medical spa just to get a session in, or even find a reliable provider in the first place.

The good news is that you can get all these benefits at home with your very own red light therapy device! Jump over to youtube for another view on how we set ours up.

Here’s a quick guide on how to perform a session at home and some great tips on how to make the most out of each one:

Step-by-Step Guide

First things first, how do you use your device at home? If you’re a first-timer, here’s how I would do it:

  • Choose the Right Device: Select a high-quality, FDA-approved device designed for home use. Look for devices with wavelengths between 630-850 nm to ensure effectiveness.
  • Read the Instructions: Before anything else, carefully go through the manufacturer’s guidelines to understand how to use the device correctly and safely, including any specific settings.
  • Prepare the Treatment Area: Make sure the skin area to be treated is clean and dry. Remove any clothing or accessories that might block the light.
  • Position the Device: Place the device at the recommended distance from your skin, usually between 6-12 inches. Follow the specific distance guidance provided in the instructions.
  • Treatment Sessions: Start with 10-20 minute sessions per treatment area. Most devices suggest starting with shorter durations and gradually increasing as your body adjusts.

Frequency of Use

Start with 3-4 red light therapy sessions per week to let your body gradually adapt to the new treatment. This way, you can monitor your initial responses and identify any improvements in your symptoms, skin health, or overall well-being. 

Once you’re comfortable, try upping the frequency to daily sessions for even better results, especially if you’re dealing with chronic pain or skin issues. Keep an eye on how you feel, and if something doesn’t feel right, ease back and consult the instructions or a professional.

A man in a blue shirt sits at a table, using a white light therapy device emitting an orange glow, with plants and a partially opened door in the background.

Integrate RLT Into Your Routine

You can do a session any day or any time you want. However, I prefer whipping my RLT device out during opportune times, a.k.a. when it’ll provide the most benefits.

For example, you can start your day with a boost by using red light therapy during your morning routine. Set up your device while you enjoy your morning coffee, read, or journal. I find that morning sessions not only energize you but also prepare your body and mind for the day ahead.

RLT is also a good post-workout routine, whether it’s something intense like a treadmill sprint or an easier workout like rebounding. Incorporate a red light therapy session to help with muscle recovery and reduce soreness. According to the studies we’ve mentioned above, the therapy can aid in reducing inflammation and speeding up the healing process.

If you prefer a more relaxed session, wind down your day with relaxing red light therapy. Use it while you read, watch TV, or simply relax. This can help improve sleep quality by calming your mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Find the Best Spot at Home

The best thing about having your own therapy device is you can do your sessions anywhere you want. However, I recommend picking a spot in your home where you can use your red light therapy device regularly.

A quiet, comfy area like a corner of your living room, bedroom, or a wellness nook works great. Make sure it’s near an outlet and has good ventilation. Also, your setup should be adjustable and stable. Try a comfortable chair, a yoga mat, or maybe an adjustable lounge chair.

Best Red Light Therapy Devices for Home Use

As of writing in 2024, there are many brands offering safe and effective at-home devices with LED bulbs. They come in all shapes and sizes, from small hand-held gadgets and molded face masks to full-body panels.

It was important for us to find a device that uses a combination of high and low wavelengths so we can get the benefits of both. Based on our experience and research, these are the top three we recommend for home use.

Joovv promo image of red light therapy.
Joovv has the most popular full-spectrum, full-body devices for at-home use on the market. They do an excellent job of combining all the variables into an easy to use yet powerful therapy tool.

Use coupon code PRIMALEDGEHEALTH & save $50!

Do you want to take a look at the product in action? Our Joovv unboxing video shows exactly how we set it up and use it, plus some pros and cons from our experience.
Buy Here
Emr tek red light device on a white background.
I like the EMR-Tek style because they are smaller and more compact than other options. It’s important to consider storage space, particularly if you live in an apartment or small home. Fortunately, the size does not compromise the benefits since these devices are engineered to distribute the light frequencies to a wide area. Therefore, EMR-Tek could be a budget-friendly alternative to Joovv that saves space too.

Use coupon code for PRIMALEDGE for 20% off all products!
Buy Here
Red light therapy device with a white background.
Red Light Man
Ideal for all UK and Europe readers. Red Light Man is an England-based company that can supply a quality product with affordable shipping to United Kingdom and EU locations. 2021 UPDATE: They are currently offering FREE shipping worldwide!
Buy Here

Optimize Your Health Effortlessly With Red Light

Are you aiming for the cosmetic benefits of RLT like less wrinkles and better skin tone? Or are you more interested in the deeper physical and mental health benefits it can provide?

Red light therapy is worth trying either way. Don’t want to go through the hassle of going to a med spa or a doctor’s office? Get your own red light therapy device and have unlimited sessions at home!

2 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Red Light Therapy at Home”

  1. Thanks for such an informative guide on red light therapy! Had no idea how many health benefits came along with it. Will definitely be looking into doing this at home soon.


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