There are a number of products out there claiming that RED LEDs or glow lamps (usually above 620nm wavelength) are a good way of lighting your house or a bedroom without interrupting sleep.
Some even claim that such a light can IMPROVE sleep by increasing melatonin production. The recent studies I have seen show this to be completely inaccurate.
Red lights are even marketed and sold to parents for a babies room as a way to help them not feel scared and sleep better.
Maybe experience of parents has shown that they do help the baby sleep because the alternative is crying. But at what cost? And are there better ways?
I say this because part of my focus for a while now has been on sleep and circadian rhythms and I have come across ALOT of evidence supporting the idea that ANY light irrespective of it’s wavelength disrupts both melatonin production and the bodies internal time clock (circadian rhythm).
And this study is typical and comprehensive of what I have seen recently around Red light and melatonin levels in the body.
It seems that anything more than about 30min of even low level red light is just as suppressing on melatonin as full spectrum light. And almost full suppression was found after only 90 min. 95% in fact!
Plasma, insulin, glucose and hormone levels were also negatively (for effective normal differences required for day/night functioning) effected and the effect lasts throughout the day and not just the night.
Sleep is one of the most ignored and undervalued topics on health in our society. And sleep deprivation or low quality sleep is one of modern societies biggest challenges.
And my view, based on this research is that RED light is NOT an alternative to total darkness.
Unsurprisingly, the best alternative to total darkness, is total darkness.
Sleep well people.
It is worth pointing out that I have also seen studies that show that red light can in fact increase melatonin production at night. This is a less common result from what I have seen though.