How to Light Up Your Brain with Wes Pfiffner
"We absorb light and use it as fuel for our bodies."
Our bodies absorb light and use it as fuel for our bodies, but few of us have been taught about how to harness the power of light to boost our health and happiness.
Our natural environment deeply affects our bodies—our circadian rhythms are affected by sunlight and increasingly, negatively affected by the blue light so many of us spend hours looking at in the form of laptops and phones. This is problematic because of circadian rhythms regulate our body—telling us when to eat, sleep and produce hormones. We’ve talked a lot on the Kwik Brain podcast about the power of sleep for our brains, so this is an important issue to be aware of if we want to get the most out of our minds!
The Joovv red light therapy device is something I use on a daily basis to ensure I jump start my circadian rhythms and get enough light each day. Today’s guest, Wes Pfiffner, is one of the directors of the company, and he’s here to tell us how impactful red light therapy can be for our bodies and brains.
In this episode, we explain the benefits of light therapy, why being conscious of our circadian rhythms is so important, and why we need to watch our usage of blue light. To finish, Wes will give you some quick and simple to harness the power of light in your everyday life.
Don’t forget to join the Kwik Challenge and use the hashtag #kwikchallenge—join us!
WHAT IS LIGHT THERAPY?
- Technical term: photobiomodulation
- Use of natural red and near-infrared light wavelengths that boost your mitochondria
- Modern light therapy uses LED diodes rather than lasers: they’re safer, just as effective, and can cover a greater surface area
- We absorb light and use it as fuel for our bodies
- Sleep experts suggest getting outside in the sun first thing in the morning—this is for the benefit of our circadian rhythm
- Circadian rhythms regulate our body, let us know when we need to eat and sleep
- Exposing yourself to light in the morning connects your circadian rhythm to what is naturally going on in the natural environment
- Get outside before you get on the laptop: our devices can help us, but they also take us away from important things like getting some sun in the morning
- 93% of Americans’ lifetime is spent indoors (83% in an office or home, 6% in the car)
- When we’re inside we’re exposing ourselves to negative blue light: has a negative effect on our circadian rhythm especially early in the morning or late at night
- Negative light suppresses production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep and if it gets affected we won’t be able to enter deep sleep
GETTING ENOUGH LIGHT
- You need to get outside and get the skin to light contact
- Most windows will block UVA & UVB—it might feel good, but you won’t absorb much
- Red light activates mitochondria to produce more ATP in the body which gives your body more energy—similar to how we fuel a car or get energy from macronutrients
- Physical benefits: joint pain relief, skin health, thyroid enhancement, scar fading
- Thousands of clinical studies on the light available on PubMed
- We have a trillion cells that can be thought of as batteries in our body that need to be charged
- Near-infrared light can penetrate the skull into the brain
- Study: 118 individuals, going into a learning session about rule and regulations and how to apply them
- The group that was exposed to light therapy before learning had significantly higher results, higher reaction times vs. placebo group
- Make sense when you consider light activates mitochondria to produce more energy, stimulates cells to do their job — any part the light touches on your body benefits
INSIDE THE CELL
- The fourth phase of cellular respiration
- Red light at the right intensity breaking the bond between [ ] and nitric oxide, freeing up oxygen to pair with NADH, which in turn, creates more ATP
- Your body uses ATP to create more ATP, our body is reliant on it
- You can learn more about the cellular level science at Joovv’s website here!
- We don’t necessarily have energy, we create it all the time, sometimes from our natural environment
ABOUT THE JOOVV
- Designed to be quick and easy to fit into our routines
- It’s not that we don’t want to go outside—so many of us just don’t have time to go outside and sit in the sun!
- Better sleep quality is the most common feedback from athletes
- If you decide to purchase something on JOOVV, use the code JIM at checkout to receive a free gift as one of our valued listeners.
QUICK TIPS TO USE LIGHT TO BOOST PERFORMANCE
- Get out and get sun! See sunrise and sunset if you can, try to get out for 10-30 minutes
- App mentioned: Dminder app for monitoring beneficial sunlight and Vitamin D
- Be conscious of how much blue light you expose yourself to on a daily basis, and at what times—main culprits are our screens and phones
- Install a couple of red incandescent light bulbs in your rooms for nighttime use—red light doesn’t affect your circadian rhythm and sleep
- Affordable apps you can download to minimize the blue light you absorb from your screen: Iris & f.lux
- Blue light blocking glasses are available, affordable and effective
- Be wary of getting too much sun at once—you’re skin has to be used to it, start off slow and build up to it, this is where the Dminder app comes in handy
- Studies show that red light therapy can stimulate the brain to produce more gamma and alpha waves: you can search for studies at PubMed
- Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@jimkwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 45: Improve Your Memory With A Good Night’s Sleep with Dr. Michael Breus
Episode 66: When To Eat For Optimal Brain Function with Max Lugavere
Episode 90: Sleep, Eat, Move & Think Better with Dr. Greg Wells Part 1
Episode 97: Digital Detox with Jay Shetty