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Phototherapy device offers potential sleep benefits



Wearing a phototherapy device that emits near-infrared light is associated with potential therapeutic benefits for sleep and daytime functioning, according to new research.

The research found that self-reported, sleep-related symptoms improved after three weeks of treatment.

Those in the active treatment group reported experiencing better sleep quality, feeling more refreshed and relaxed and functioning better during the day.

Lead author Kathryn Kennedy, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said:

“This novel phototherapy device — while still being explored and in need of further research — appeared to be generally well-tolerated by a small group of participants.

“Those with active, light-emitting devices — as opposed to the inert sham devices — self-reported an increase in relaxation and better sleep with use.”

According to the researchers, transdermal delivery of near-infrared light exhibits several therapeutic properties, including increased relaxation, likely through stimulation of parasympathetic activity.

However, the benefits of near-infrared light delivery on sleep and next-day daytime functioning have been unexplored.

The five-week, randomised, sham-controlled study involved 30 adults between the ages of 30 and 60 years.

Each participant reported having sleep complaints but did not have a diagnosed sleep disorder.

Following a two-week baseline period, participants wore a cervical collar every other night before bed for three weeks.

For those in the active treatment group, the collar emitted near-infrared light, while for those in the sham treatment group, the collar was inactive.

Participants completed questionnaires about physical symptoms and insomnia severity, and they provided daily ratings of measures such as sleep quality, perceived changes to sleep, relaxation, feeling refreshed and daytime functioning.

The results were compared between groups.

Kennedy noted that while there are many sleep trackers in the marketplace, there are few wearable devices targeted at improving sleep and next-day performance, making near-infrared light a promising candidate with potential to become a novel treatment for sub-clinical sleep complaints.

The researcher said:

“Given the emerging field of photobiomodulation and its potential neuroprotective and vasodilating effects, this red-light and near-infrared emitting device may be useful if milliwatt power level, dosage, and frequency of use are refined.”

Image: University of Arizona

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