Red light therapy for better sleep
Dr. Zulia Frost | Recharge Health
BY PETER BOWES | FRIDAY JULY 14, 2023
Could red light therapy be used to help us sleep and help us relax more? In this second installment of our series exploring the technology behind the handheld red-light device we discuss the significance of the circadian rhythm and our ability to release the hormone melatonin. We also explore the longer-term implications for our energy levels during the day and healthspan. Dr. Zulia Frost is a medical doctor and clinical director at Recharge Health, creators of a targeted red-light device, known as FlexBeam.
In this conversation we cover:
• Dr. Frost explains that the technology has many applications, including the treatment of sports injuries, therapy for age-related aches and pains and as way to help improve sleep.
• Sleep disorders can be caused by an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system, which controls our sleep-wake cycle.
• Lack of sleep can lead to physical and mental fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and increased risk of accidents and mistakes.
• Technology and exposure to artificial light, especially blue light from screens, can disrupt our natural sleep patterns.
• Red light therapy, such as the FlexBeam device, can help improve sleep by stimulating the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
• Melatonin is released by the pineal gland, as well as various cells throughout the body, in response to red light.
• Red light therapy can also improve mitochondrial function and reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.
• The optimal time and duration of red light therapy for sleep improvement may vary depending on individual needs and responses.
• Using red light therapy on specific areas of the body, such as the stomach, thymus, back of the neck, and sacrum, can target the release of melatonin and promote relaxation.
• Red light therapy should be used consistently, but not excessively, to allow the body to adapt and self-regulate melatonin production.
Recharge Health is offering a generous discount on the purchase of a FlexBeam device. Full details and access to the offer latest offer here.
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Listening and viewing options
Connect with Dr. Zulia Frost and learn more about Flexbeam:
- Dr. Zulia Frost (Part 1): Exploring the science behind red light therapy
- Bjørn Ekeberg: Targeted red light therapy to support recovery
TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Dr. Zulia Frost was recorded on June 15, 2023 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.
Peter Bowes: Do you have trouble sleeping? Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep? Do you think it could have anything to do with how much we’re exposed to natural light during the day? Hello again and welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity. I’m joined again by Dr. Zulia Frost. Dr. Frost is a medical doctor and the clinical director and one of the co-founders at Recharge Health Creators of a targeted red light device known as FlexBeam. This is the second in our four part series looking at the technology and how it could help us. So sleep. Millions of people around the world suffer from sleep disorders to some extent. For some of us, it’s just the occasional inability to sleep. But for others, it is a chronic disorder. What are the main causes? What happens when we don’t sleep? Dr. Frost, welcome again to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.
Zulia Frost: Thank you so much, Peter. I’m excited to share with all my knowledge and possibly help your listeners to address their issues. Well, sleep topic is a really big one because to me, sleep or inability to sleep normally it’s a problem on so many levels. It’s a problem of expression of overly, overly working your sympathetic system. So let me just explain a little bit that concept. So we have in the body two systems. We have autonomic nervous system consist of sympathetic or system of the day. When you get up, you go, you work and there is a system parasympathetic where you relax, sleep, digest, and relax. So because these two systems are supposed to work together as one. However, when we go through the stressful period of time in our lives, what is happening? The sympathetic system starts working day and night and people don’t switch into relaxation. And this can happen with not just stress because of work or stress may be at home. It could be an expression of a variety of diseases. People just can’t sleep. So of course it’s accumulative. So the more you don’t sleep, the more tired dysfunctional you are, the more aged you are. Because scientists now talking that sleep is actually make you look and feel older. And so if you. So sleep is paramount for our health. I personally cannot function if I don’t do eight hours of sleep. I feel really like not altogether. My mental ability is not sharp. I feel sluggish and quite unhappy and dissatisfied, so I am sure people can relate to that.
Peter Bowes: Oh, yeah. I frame it like this. I often say that sleep is the most important factor. I will put it at number one in terms of those interventions, in terms of those things that we really need to get right to, to live a good, healthy life. The other factors, of course, being our diet, our exercise regime. But if we don’t get sleep right, well, there’s a huge tendency not to eat a good diet. If we don’t get our sleep right. There’s less energy and less enthusiasm to take part in any kind of exercise regime. So in other words, everything else is affected by our lack of sleep. And that leaves aside, of course, just the the daily impact of not sleeping well, the inability to focus and to work properly to to do the daily chores, to look after children, to to focus on work intellectually, to do what we need to do. So for me, sleep is is absolutely paramount for those and many other reasons.
Zulia Frost: Yes, I can only agree more besides, you know, when you’re not you’re not sleeping well. You make mistakes at work. And then what if you’re a pilot? What if you’re, you know, a driver? So you could easily can get yourself in a car crash. And so, yes, the importance of sleep is undeniable. So we need to address that.
Peter Bowes: And why do you think it seems to be getting worse for us as as technology advances? And maybe that is part of the reason that we surround ourselves by technology devices, phones, smart watches, screens everywhere we look. Is that part of the reason, do you think, why we are not sleeping as well? Our dependance on technology for certain parts of our lives?
Zulia Frost: Peter, you just touched my favorite subject. Why? Because I see particularly younger generation who embrace this technology, I actually get a lot more ill people in their sort of mid 20s compared to people in mid 70s. Believe me or not, that is remarkable. And I suspect technology something to do with this, particularly with using the screens because screens emit blue light and blue light. It’s it’s like wake up for the brain. Remember the white bright blue lights. It happened during the full day time. And that’s where you sharp, very attentive and and more focused. And then red lights happens in the morning or red light happens in the evening. So because of this, our brain is really, really stimulated, really focused. And of course, we have screens everywhere on the mobile phone, on computer, on TV, on the watch. This is one aspect. The second aspect is the each gadget emits electromagnetic dirty radiation. This electromagnetic radiation is not healthy. And consider that we also surrounded by in every flat, in every if you live in a block of flats, you have Wi-Fi. And if you have a hotel, this Wi-Fi will be blasting you in gigahertz. You know, all this technology collectively create a stress on our body. And this stress, believe me or not, targeting first mitochondria, it literally destroys mitochondria. So you have impact from both wrong lights in the wrong time of the day, and then you have this pollutions and static electricity you carry because you cannot earth yourself. So all together, yes, the world have changed, but we have to adapt. We have to do something to help ourselves.
Peter Bowes: So there is something of an irony that perhaps technology isn’t good for us in certain aspects of our lives. But we are here talking about new technology and understanding of red light and and red light therapy through technology and how that can benefit us.
Zulia Frost: Yes, this is irony, but also it’s true because how can we evolve, how we can survive in this oceans of electromagnetic radiation. Right. So you mentioned very important things like you go outdoor, you exercise, you be in the sun, you eat healthy, organic, clean food. That is reducing the amount of damage and, you know, counterbalancing. But what can you do if you live in the city and you stuck in the office from morning to evening? Yes. And exposed to artificial lighting and you’ve got you come home and then you stay at the computers or TV. So you really need this. You know, I would say healthy technology to counterbalance the burden which you put in yourself through.
Peter Bowes: And you mentioned mitochondria a few moments ago. And that kind of joins the dots for me in terms of what we were talking about in our last episodes and the importance of mitochondria being the energy centers of our bodies and how mitochondrial health can be impacted through a lack of sleep. So I’m beginning to get the the full picture here, and especially the relationship with mitochondrial health and red light therapy, which again we touched on in the last episode. But maybe we could delve into how red light therapy can help us sleep better and what that actually means in a practical sense for us.
Zulia Frost: Definitely, definitely it can. So there are two mechanisms, very interesting mechanisms. They all both link to a hormone called melatonin. So melatonin is released by our body primarily by pineal gland, or at least we know about the pineal gland. When this melatonin is released, we go to sleep and this melatonin is released into the bloodstream. Also, we have another melatonin. I mean, it’s chemically exactly the same, but it released subcellular. It released in the most of cells of different tissues like it released in the brain. It released in the thymus, it released in the gonads. It released in the different parts of the body. But it’s inside the cell and it released in response to near-infrared light. Both hormones, whether it’s circulating in the blood and circulating in in your cells, they both have very positive impact on the body. The melatonin, which repairs the circadian rhythm and help us to sleep through blood, gives us a very good restful sleep. But also, if you stimulate with near-infrared lights, your body, your physical body, you can improve. Subcellular release of melatonin, and that would also impact mitochondria. It also impact positively cell because it will clear all this reaction. Reactive oxygen species or oxidative stress which we accumulated through all these damaging factors we just described all these pollutions, pesticides, all the, you know, environmental pollutions like AMF, which make our body aged as well. So these subcellular melatonin will clear that for you. So all in all, using light would be tremendously beneficial.
Peter Bowes: Many people will be used to supplementing with melatonin in tablet form. Some people might think, well, that’s actually easier. Just pop a couple of tablets, maybe one milligram, three milligrams, whatever dose is is most beneficial, or at least you think it’s the most beneficial for you. What is the difference between that and stimulating the release of melatonin through red light exposure?
Peter Bowes: It’s a very good question. And maybe for somebody that would be the easiest way to if they indeed melatonin deficient. However, I think light is much more intuitive for the body because, you know, melatonin is a chemical compound. And like any chemical compounds, especially hormone, it has to be released at certain time in a certain dose. You know how much I mean, who knows your own body and body chemistry apart from your brain? I don’t know. Any wonderful doctor still will know exactly how much you need. In my view, if you use lights, you have self-regulating for melatonin effect. And that I discovered I did a case study with one individual who could not sleep. And he was truly, truly insomniac. It wasn’t seasonal affective disorder. He just could not sleep and winter and summer all the time. And for him it was array of the symptoms, not just insomnia but poor folk and couldn’t wake up in the morning but could not fall asleep through nights. Poor, poor digestion, even, you know, itchy skin all comes together as a result of one big problem in the body. So we tried to use Flexbeam. I gave the protocol to use Flexbeam in four parts of the body once a day. And before we started this case study, I asked him to do a test. It’s a melatonin test to measure melatonin, but it’s a saliva test through DNA. Saliva test. So we did this at the very beginning. Then he received this therapy for Monday to Friday for three weeks, keeping the weekend off. And then fourth week he was doing every other day. And then I gave one week rest and then we retested again. To my utter surprise, the picture was quite interesting because what we discovered before the study, his melatonin level was rather low at night. Quite, quite low. But in the morning it was over the scale, like literally triple time. So he could not wake up because he was still in a big production of melatonin. But at night it wasn’t sufficient for him to fall asleep. So what happened in the space of this five weeks that he self regulated? And that was a big deal because I thought maybe we just, you know, bluntly increasing the melatonin. No, his melatonin in the morning went back to all the way down within the normal range. And at night it increased so he could fall asleep. The most remarkable thing was that I met him after eight months. And he did not have access to his device. He still maintained the rhythm after eight years, not being able to at all to have a circadian clock working. So that tells you that we have restorative. We regulated him. Of course, he made the conscious decision to go to bed at the right time, you know, not to expose to screens. We had a conversation about this, but it just tells you that power of light is so profound. You can self regulate with this.
Peter Bowes: Is there an optimum time to expose yourself through flex beam to that red light before you want to go to sleep? In other words, how long does it take from the the stimulation with red light to the actual release of melatonin to a point that it benefits you by putting you to sleep?
Zulia Frost: I wouldn’t know for sure because we are all different, you know, slightly different. But also we have different circumstances why we’re not sleeping. But what I learned from our users, because I’m in contact with users all the time and so they telling me. So, for example, one scenario, one patient would say, I go every evening, I put Flexbeam on three, three places on the body, and she would put the headphones and listen to some nice, you know, story or music. And it’s immediately calms her down and she goes into sleep really well. So she developed a routine like this and it works for her. On the other end, I have some users, Flexbeam users and they say I started using Flexbeam in the evening. At first I was falling asleep, but sort of on a week two, I start feeling quite energized. So we shifted the use in the morning when another natural window for red lights and that sorted it out. So the morning routine would work for those people who feel energized after using red light. Because it’s a it’s a powerful energy device, but you can use either in the morning or in in the evening, you have to experiment yourself.
Peter Bowes: Because that could be a source of confusion for some people that it is a process. It is a device that is going to energize you at one time of the day, but also set in place a process that will ultimately help you sleep better by doing the opposite of energizing you. And that is calming you down and and starting that circadian rhythm stage that involves hopefully eight hours of sleep. So it’s a it’s a broader picture than just using a device that is going to do one thing. It is going to do multiple things depending on the time of day.
Zulia Frost: Yes. And as I as I mentioned before, the people are, you know, we’re different. And so what is important for you to use on a regular basis give the body a small portion of adjusting your melatonin and then the body will go into this circadian clock back to normal itself. And so I would say definitely should see results within three weeks time. But most people know most people get it even sooner.
Peter Bowes: And something that’s interesting to me as you’ve touched on this, but melatonin is released around the body. It isn’t just the pineal gland that maybe most people will associate with it, but it is released from different parts of the body. And I’m wondering if that’s why it is valuable to use Flexbeam on different parts of the body?
Zulia Frost: Yes. Yes, I agree with you. This knowledge, Peter, is quite recent. Literally study. I’ve seen study 2019 first time and then one study 2022. I mean, that is like last year. And the scientists literally isolated. They know now there is process like this happening in every almost every cell in your tissues, but particularly specific tissues which engage with the more of the activity. And yes, we red lights would be so beneficial in my view, what I gave people to use for their sleep is to use it on the stomach first because stomach, to me, it’s access to our engine. This is where we hold our emotions. That’s where, you know, the relaxation. That’s once you help also to relax the stomach, but also stimulate the microbiota. It would help also to produce that subcellular melatonin because in the gut they have lots and lots of cells which could make this subcellular melatonin. I like to use it also at the front. A vertical like this because there is a thymus and thymus also stimulates production of melatonin, but also it helps to calm you. It it’s really pleasant sort of position. You hold it like a baby, it calms you down and there is your heart, of course, nearby. So heart will receive energy too. So there another position at the back of the neck because well, from point of TCM and acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, there is a massive crossroad of cervical number seven vertebra so we can use it there. And last position, it’s at the bottom of the sacrum, at the bottom of the spine. Why there? Because directly this is where the nerve branches of the parasympathetic system are coming from. So you initiate that sleep input in the body.
Peter Bowes: Is there a maximum time in terms of minutes per day? You mentioned the different parts of the body for ten minutes at a time. Would you recommend only perhaps doing three parts of the body per day? And then of course, the decision comes which parts of the body do you focus on? What? I guess it depends on what aspect of your health you’re trying to improve.
Zulia Frost: Yes, In average, you could even do two parts of the body. If there is something really problematic, then you can increase the number. I would say up to four four places on the body. You could do, um, generally speaking, as we said, it’s light and I have some users who use it for the whole hour and I have some users who used to Flexbeams at once. So maybe in half an hour they cover six places on the body, it seems. All right. But generally speaking, I don’t want people to overuse it because I always want them to receive results from therapy. Yes. So in this case, I would say three position, four position, maximum a day. And also periodically small gaps. Like I came up with this ridiculous maybe it’s a Monday to Friday weekend off. So it’s just because people can remember this. Yes. But it means that you use it, use it, use it, and then just give a pause so you don’t over overwhelm the body with energy.
Peter Bowes: And there’s an element of teaching your body to, to some extent, thrive without necessarily using something like this every single day. That it isn’t just the treatment that equals improvement in your health, it’s treatment that equals improvement of your health because your body overall is improving. And you could apply that, for example, to your circadian rhythm and how you fall asleep and how you wake up at a more regimented time, a time that suits you better than you were previously.
Zulia Frost: Yes. However, FlexBeam could be used for completely healthy individual just to maintain that energy because, you know, however sterile environment you live in, there will be still impact from environment on your body. So you know sooner and we know that it’s a red light therapy stimulates immune system so it’s good to have it all the time.
Peter Bowes: And in terms of dosage and anyone who uses a FlexBeam will obviously get full instructions in terms of how to use it. But there are different settings that apply, especially whether you’re using it on your front or on your back.
Zulia Frost: Yes, I should mention about this, it’s important. So with FlexBeam, we have three programs. Each program has already the full dose. So in ten minutes of stimulation that parts of the body where you place the device will receive a dose. You don’t need to repeat this over and over ten minutes enough, just move somewhere else. And we have on the settings, we have three programs here, so they help you to target. So for example, if you have some issue like wounds or you just bruise yourself, yes, it’s a level of the skin you need to use Program one. If you go for something deeper like small joints, then you choose program two. It helps you to focus more on deep inside the body. And then program three will get you that ten ten centimeters depth, the most powerful preset. So of course. You won’t use three on the joints because you know they’re only tiny. It’s one centimeter, so you need to use it where the knees or where the hip joints. You can use it for sciatica on the buttocks, for example, you know, something like this. So in general, again, just for ease of remembering, I instruct people use program two at the front. Like where the internal organs. Program two. So the sort of three, four centimeters depth but at the back because all back covered with muscles deeper you need deeper penetration then use program three for deeper penetration at the back.
Peter Bowes: This is fascinating. We are going to return with more applications, more discussion about red light therapy. Just in closing for this episode, a broader question for you. I two conversations now, two episodes detect your huge enthusiasm. And we talked at the beginning of the first episode about your own personal experience of of healing and how that was important to you. But maybe you could just express for us how you feel about this in in broader health terms. You’re clearly someone who is ultra focused on on personal health. But looking to the future and how you’ve embraced this technology, just what it means to you?
Zulia Frost: Well, very, very, very important questions. We do things in life which are meaningful for us because without that, life would be too boring, I think, saying that. My journey in life, especially me experiencing tremendous trauma and recovering from this actually inspired me to tell others that this is possible. I want my patients to know that they can recover. I know my patients to be armed with tools which they can help them to recover. And I want my patients to know and tell everybody that this is possible. This is possible. No, no matter how sick and ill you are to achieve full health. I was able to do it, so I think everybody else would be able to do it. I want also people to know that it’s time for you to take responsibility for your health in your own hands because it’s not good that you abuse your body and then you go and take pills for that. It’s you never achieve health with this, but with health you feel so much better, so much more enthusiastic about life. And I’m super, super passionate to give this message to everyone. Please help yourself. Empower yourself to heal your body.
Peter Bowes: I think it’s a really good message for the time being. Dr. Frost. Thank you very much indeed.
Peter Bowes: Thank you, Peter. Thank you very much.
Peter Bowes: And if you would like to try FlexBeam for yourself, Recharge Health is offering LLAMA podcast viewers and listeners a discount on the purchase of a unit. You’ll find full details in the show notes for this episode, either on the platform where you are now or our website, which is LLAMApodcast.com. LLAMApodcast.com. In our next episode, we’re going to talk about how red light could help us recover from aches and pains, problems with our joints, as we’ve just been referring to, and flexibility. I hope you can join us next time. Live Long and Master Aging is a Healthspan Media production. We share ideas here, but we do not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind or if you are considering adopting a health related regime, you should first consult your doctor.
The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.