Andrew Huberman is one of the most popular scientists of our age. He describes complex concepts in a way that even an average person can understand and enjoy. His passion for sharing science and his own knowledge in a digestible form contributes to hundreds' of well-being.
Besides all, he uses red light therapy for health purposes and advocates its benefits. So no surprise, we wanted to explore this in more detail.
Who is Andrew Huberman?
Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford School of Medicine, specializing in neurobiology, behavioral sciences and psychiatry. Recognized for groundbreaking research in brain development, function, and neural plasticity, Huberman explores the nervous system's capacity to rewire and acquire new skills and behaviors.
What is Huberman’s Light Therapy Protocol?
Huberman is a huge advocate of light exposure of many forms. He emphasizes the importance of getting natural light early in the morning, preferably within 30 minutes waking up, and also in the late afternoon.
As he states in the episode of Using Light to Optimize Health.
Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning is absolutely vital to mental and physical health. It is perhaps the most important thing that any and all of us can and should do in order to promote metabolic well-being.
Besides natural lights, he also uses red light to enhance better sleep. Even though he could afford to do so, he doesn't do that with an expensive panel, - or at least that's what we can find out from his New Year's Eve post -, but with quite a cheap option.
He refers to a party red light bulb, which you can easily find online or even in "offline" stores. As he says, the purpose of this bulb is not to treat any particular area of his body, but rather to help to get into the state of relaxation and sleepiness.
The Benefits of Red and NIR Light Therapy According to Huberman
There are numerous benefits of the red and near-infrared wavelengths. As Huberman sometimes mention as a synonym, long wavelength lights (red and NIR light) can get deep into the skin tissues and even to the mitochondria. The latter is responsible for the increase of ATP production, which is the energy storehouse of the cells.
At some point, Andrew will likely be dedicating a whole episode on all the benefits of red light therapy, but as for now what he's concluded in his episodes are the followings:
Improved visual function
Viewing red and NIR light has an affect on the aging process of the cells in the retina, - so called photoreceptors. This statement is based on the study conducted by Jeffery's lab. Their most remarkable finding is that the use of red light therapy can improve visual acuity with 22%. Visual acuity refers to the clarity or sharpness of vision.
In this research setting, the participants were exposed to red light therapy 3 times a week, only for 2-3 minutes within the first 3 hours of waking up. They applied 670nm wavelenghts, which can be found most of the red light devices on the market.
Treating skin conditions
Those, who are seeking for a non-invasive treatment for skin problems such as acne or scars, red light therapy could also be a potentially good alternative.
As Huberman explains its mechanism of action of red and NIR on the skin:
The red and near infrared wavelenghts cause a bit of damage to the upper layer of the skin, whereas the cells of the deeper layers start to clear out and replace the damaged cells (lesions) with healthy skin cells.
Here is one of the studies he's referring to related skin health.
Advantageous for those doing late night activities
According to Huberman, those who often do nighttime activities (e.g.: shift working, studying, parenting), can also benefit from the proper use of red light. If the dosage of the red light is sufficiently set, one can still perform the task, however this light doesn't lead to an increase in the cortisol level.
Which Light Devices Huberman Uses?
To his morning protocol, apparently he uses Artograph LightPad LX 930, that is a lux lamp to induce wakefulness. The reason he got such a device is that he often wakes before the sunrise, but still wants to enjoy the benefits of bright light in the morning.
Here is what I use: (no affiliation) Artograph LightPad 930 LX - 12" x 9" Thin, Dimmable LED Light Box for Tracing, Drawing— Andrew D. Huberman, Ph.D. (@hubermanlab) October 24, 2021
I prop it on its side facing me on my desk. (I wake early before sunrise usually). And get sunlight once it’s sunny out.
As for his red light therapy protocol - as I've already mentioned - he uses red light bulbs before going to bed, as it helps to reduce the cortisol level while increasing melatonin production, which is ultimately leads to the feeling of sleepiness.
Based on his post, he uses party red light bulbs that cost only 2 dollars each. For this purpose however, you can also select bulbs from companies that are specialized in red light therapy devices particularly. And those can come handy for other things, too.
Besides his evening light bulb, Huberman also uses a red light panel for other health purposes - although he doesn't mention for what specifically. Neither he mentions the product that he owns. However while stressing out that he has no relationship to any of these companies, he says;
So, we might suspect that he has some experience with one or both of these brands, but of course, we can't be 100% sure!
Conclusion: Huberman On Light Therapy
One thing is for sure, thought. If a respected and popular scientist - such as Huberman, highlights the potential benefits of using red light therapy and believes that in many cases it can be a useful treatment option, then there must be something to it.
And finally, let me use his Andrew's very well-known, repetitive ending slogan of his famous show:
Thank you for your interest in science...
and in light therapy, of course.