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This is Why You Need Daily Natural Light Exposure

by PFX Team
Home/Blog/Protect Your Mental Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Your Paleo Ancestors Thrived on Lots of Natural Light Every Day.

Photo by pixpoetry on Unsplash

So are you getting enough for optimal health?

Thanks to Paleo living, millions of people have improved their health and fitness by harkening back to biological basics.

But even if you’re living the Paleo lifestyle, there’s a major difference between you and your ancestors: they were outdoors most of the time, by necessity, and their bodies thrived on an abundance of natural light.

This is especially true of your paleolithic cousins who were hunter-gatherers before the dawn of civilization. But it’s also true of far more recent humans living in the last millennium.

It’s only been in the last few centuries that people have been able to spend much of their time indoors, out of the sunlight.

It’s gotten so bad in the United States, that recent studies are showing the average American spends over 90% of their time indoors. That’s just a few hours outside every week—not nearly enough for optimal health and function. [1]

We have never had to think about natural light exposure until recently

The unfortunate reality is that most people don’t think about their natural light intake.

But just like your body needs food and water to fuel itself, your cells also need to take in enough natural light to power cellular respiration. This is the essential process in the mitochondria of your cells that produces the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy your body runs on every minute of every day.

Generally, the more ATP you can create, the better you’ll feel and perform.

But it can be surprisingly difficult to get enough natural light from the outdoors.

With jobs, school, and other obligations, many people end up having to spend their daylight hours indoors. In the northern regions, the long winter months bring more darkness and even less opportunity to take in natural light every day.

The health consequences can be worse than people think.

If you have a natural light deficiency, your cells aren’t producing enough energy for optimal function.

That puts a ceiling on your physical performance, makes it harder for your body to recover from injuries, and it can have major negative effects on your mental and cognitive health. [2]

Getting enough sleep has been crucial to human health since the beginning, and light is the biggest outside factor that affects our circadian rhythm, the body’s master regulator.

On top of not enough natural light, you’re probably exposed to lots of bright, blue artificial light all day. This is especially true at night, from computers and mobile phones.

This knocks our sleep cycle out of whack because bright artificial light signals to our brain that it’s time to be wide awake.

So if you struggle to sleep, the light you’re surrounded with is probably a huge factor.

On the flip side, performing at a peak physical level and staying healthy is greatly enhanced by taking in an abundance of natural light, just like your ancestors did.

Photo by Maxime Bhm on Unsplash

Red Light Therapy: A Convenient Way to Get More Natural Light Every Day, Even if You Can’t Get Outside

Getting enough natural light isn’t easy for most people.

Fortunately, red light therapy is a simple way to get more natural light every single day, whether you can get outside or not.

Light therapy—or photobiomodulation (PBM)—is a convenient, non-invasive treatment that delivers concentrated natural light directly to your skin and cells.

All you have to do is sit or stand in front of a high-quality device—like a Joovv—for 10-15 minutes a day, and you can benefit from the healthy light intake you aren’t getting from the outdoors every day.

Unlike sunlight, there are no UV rays from a Joovv and very little heat. The natural light spectrum consists of a wide range of colors and wavelengths, but for the most effective light therapy, a Joovv device delivers a narrow band of red and near infrared light.

This has proven to be the most beneficial to human health, based on numerous clinical studies.

Professional-grade red light therapy has been offered in spas and clinics for a long time.

But only in recent years, with the introduction of Joovv’s devices, has it been available and accessible for in-home, daily use. That’s been a game-changer for a lot of people’s health and fitness.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Red light therapy has been studied extensively over the last few decades.

NASA’s involvement with the technology in the early 1990s has led to a research boom as teams around the world discover more and more applications and benefits of concentrated natural light.

We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled clinical trials showing significant health benefits from red light therapy with virtually no side effects.

Although photobiomodulation researchers are continuing to learn more about the mechanism of action, most academics agree that light therapy positively affects the cellular respiration process.

Your skin and cells absorb photons of healthy, natural light from a Joovv, which your mitochondria take in to produce more ATP energy.

That process is incredibly complex. But the general principle is that natural red and near-infrared light excites electrons in your cells, leading to more efficient energy production.

If you want to get under the microscope and learn more, this article provides additional details on how red light therapy works.

Photo by naeim jafari on Unsplash

Clinically-Proven Health Benefits of Red Light Therapy

The research on red light therapy over the past decade has been incredibly far-reaching.

You can read more about the numerous benefits here. 

But below is a nice run-down of the major health advantages of red light therapy as shown in clinical trials around the world:

Melatonin & Restful Sleep

Poor sleep is an epidemic in America, and light plays a huge role.

Not getting enough natural light + bombarding yourself with bright artificial light all day and night while you’re indoors = a recipe for sleepless nights.

Red light is a better option at night because it has a low color temperature and won’t disrupt your circadian rhythm. Research has also shown that red light therapy treatments encourage your brain to produce more natural melatonin hormone. [3]

More and better sleep is one of the most common benefits we hear from Joovv users.

For example, Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey swears by Joovv for healthy sleep, and even wrote a chapter on Joovv and red light therapy in his latest best-seller, Game Changers.

Ben Greenfield is one of the top fitness trainers and natural health leaders in America, and he also says he sleeps way sounder when he’s Joovvin’.

Skin Health, Collagen Production, & Anti-Aging

Red light therapy is popular in luxury spas and salons because of its major skin rejuvenation benefits.

Numerous studies have found light therapy improves skin tone & complexion, diminishes signs of aging, speeds the healing of wounds and scars, and boosts natural collagen production. [4,5]

Top skincare professionals and their clients are taking notice. One of the leaders of that charge is Hollywood esthetician Shani Darden, who insists on natural light treatments for her celebrity clients.

Peak Physical Performance & Muscle Growth

Joovv light therapy has taken off in the professional sports world as teams and players continue seeing the physical performance benefits.

This body of research shows that light therapy treatments in conjunction with exercise improves speed, strength, endurance, and muscle growth. [6,7,8,9,10]

The proof is in the players: Joovv users can be found excelling in every pro sports league.

That includes NFL stars like Keenan Allen & Patrick Peterson, Stanley Cup champ Duncan Keith, Masters champion Zach Johnson, UFC champ TJ Dillashaw, Olympians like Team USA volleyball star Lauren Fendrick, and 2016 gymnastics gold medal winner Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands – jut to name a few.

Photo by Morgan Sarkissian on Unsplash

Muscle Recovery & Rehabbing Injuries

By increasing your body’s cellular energy production, red light therapy helps you train harder and regenerate depleted muscle tissue faster. [6]

Many of the athletes listed above use Joovv as much for the rehab and recovery element of training as well.

Inflammation & Joint Pain Relief

One of the most demonstrated responses to red light therapy is a big reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress. This includes decreased symptoms like significantly lowered joint pain—as shown in numerous clinical trials. [11]

This has been shown across all kinds of populations. Anyone from seniors with chronic arthritis, to young adults with acute strain and injury have felt the benefits.

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, aka Paleo Mom, is a daily, full-body Joovv user. She swears by red light therapy because it’s helped her overcome the joint pain she’s always had from fibromyalgia.

Natural Health Leaders Trust Joovv

We mentioned a few athletes and health leaders using Joovv, but that only scratches the surface.

Others include:

…and a whole lot more.

Ready for Red Light? Here’s What To Look For In a Device

If you’re ready to be proactive about your natural light intake and want the best possible device, there are a few major factors ≈

1) Treatment Area

Size matters in red light therapy.

The more of your body you can cover with the light, the more of your cells can benefit from increased energy production.

Full-body red light therapy is optimal. The cumulative energy increase throughout your body is what leads to systemic benefits like more energy and better sleep.

Targeted treatment areas can work wonders for specific areas of the body. But to experience the full range of light therapy benefits, it’s best to treat the whole body with a uniform, consistent dosage.

Look for a product that can cover enough treatment area to get the job done for your entire body. You also need to make sure to stand close to a red light therapy device. Stand no more than a foot away, or else it’s impossible to receive a clinical dose of light.

Misleading claims from some manufacturers have confused a lot of people about this key point. You cannot experience biologically-relevant light therapy if you’re standing several feet (or further) from your device.

2) Medical-Grade Power

Measuring the power of light is complex, and it’s nearly impossible to get accurate readings without investing in expensive diagnostic equipment.

Devices are most often measured in irradiance, or light power. But that’s just a start, and doesn’t really tell you all that much.

Because treatment area is so vital, you have to go further and measure total light output based on the power and the total area the device covers.

That’s how photobiomodulation scientists measure light therapy devices, as noted by Dr. Michael Hamblin, widely considered one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of light therapy:

Total light energy is the most accurate and comprehensive way to measure the power of light therapy devices and treatments. If you only account for irradiance—versus how much total energy a device delivers—you miss the larger picture of how light therapy positively benefits the person using it.

If a manufacturer only gives an irradiance statistic and won’t provide a total delivered power metric that takes into account treatment size area, look elsewhere.

They’re just telling you about their machinery and not how it will affect you and your health.

A high-quality LED light therapy device should deliver a dose of at least 15-20 joules/cm2. If you’re aiming for full-body light therapy—which is optimal—look for a total energy output of at least 200,000 joules within a 10-minute treatment time.

3) Clinically-Proven Wavelengths

Not all wavelengths are equally beneficial.

Red and near-infrared wavelengths from approximately 600 to 950 nanometers have been shown to be the most effective.

But even within that range, 700-770 nm has little benefit.

So stick to devices offering red light in the mid-600 nm range and near infrared light in the mid-800 nm range, which have been repeatedly shown to be the most effective. [12]

Photo by Tchoutcho Dantine de Thier on Unsplash

A Healthy, Paleo Lifestyle Requires Lots of Natural Light

To take your health, fitness, and Paleo approach to the next level, you need to get enough natural light, like our ancestors always have.

This is tough with our modern lives—our jobs, our artificial lighting & computer screens, and our lack of time to spend hours outside.

Fortunately, even if you can’t get outside in the sun more often, you can get the natural light your body needs from a full-body light therapy device like a Joovv.

It’s a simple, convenient, and very powerful strategy for living your best biological life.

Scientific Sources and Medical References

[1] Klepeis N., Nelson W., Ott W., Robinson J., Tsang A., Switzer P., Behar J., Hern S., Engelmann W. “The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants”. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 2001;11, 231-252


[2] Hatori M., Gronfier C., Van Gelder R., Bernstein P., Carreras J., Panda S., Mark F., Silney D., Hunt      C., Hirota T., Furukawa T., Tsubota K. “Global rise of potential health hazards caused by blue light-induced circadian disruption in modern aging societies”. NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2017; 3:9. doi: 10.1038/s41514-017-001-2.


[3] Morita T., Tokura H. “Effects of lights of different color temperature on the nocturnal changes in core temperature and melatonin in humans” Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 1996, September; 15(5):243-246.


[4] Emília de Abreu Chaves M, Rodrigues de Araújo A, Piancastelli ACC, and Pinotti M. “Effects of low-power light therapy on wound healing: LASER x LED.” An Bras Dermatol. 2014 Jul-Aug; 89(4): 616–623.


[5] Avci P, Gupta A, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Mar 2013; 32(1): 41-52.


[6] de Almeida P1, Lopes-Martins RA, De Marchi T, et al. “Red (660 nm) and infrared (830 nm) low-level laser therapy in skeletal muscle fatigue in humans: what is better?” Lasers Med Sci. 2012 Mar;27(2):453-8.


[7] Ferraresi C, Bertucci D, Schiavinato J, et al. “Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: Case-control Study with a Pair of Identical Twins.” Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Oct;95(10):746-57.


[8] Vanin AA, et al. What is the best moment to apply phototherapy when associated to a strength training program? A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial : Phototherapy in association to strength training. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 Nov;31(8):1555-1564.

[9] Miranda EF, Tomazoni SS, et al. When is the best moment to apply photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) when associated to a treadmill endurance-training program? A randomized, triple-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Med Science. 2018 May;33(4):719-727.

[10] Dellagrana RA, Rossato M, et al. Photobiomodulation Therapy on Physiological and Performance Parameters During Running Tests: Dose-Response Effects. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2018 Oct;32(10):2807-2815.


[11] Michael R. Hamblin. “Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation.” AIMS Biophys. 2017; 4(3): 337–361.


[12] Wunsch A and Matuschka K. “A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase.” Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Feb 2014; 32(2): 93-100.


About the Author:

Scott Nelson is a cofounder of Joovv, the first company to develop a modular, full-body light therapy device designed for convenient, in-home use.  Prior to starting Joovv, he spent his entire professional career in leadership positions with some of the largest medical device companies in the world, including Medtronic, Covidien and Boston Scientific. In his spare time, Scott is also the host of Medsider Radio, a top-ranked medical device podcast.


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