Woman trying out light therapy for restless sleep disorder

The Best Way to Deal with Restless Sleep Disorder? LED Light Therapy.

DTC Thrasio

- Circadian Optics Brand Team

In these…how should I put it…uncertain times, it’s fair to say that we’re all a little restless. However, while most of us find solace in sleep, others may get even more restless while they’re trying to drift off. Hellish, I know - and what’s worse, restless sleep doesn’t just make you lose sleep, it can lead to anything from mood swings to severe health problems. It’s truly a lose/lose. 

There are a lot of touted remedies for Restless Sleep Disorder/Restless Leg Syndrome, from easy treatments such as avoiding caffeine to more intense (and expensive) treatments like massage therapy. However, the most popular (and most effective, according to NIH) method is to use a good ol’ light therapy lamp - and we’ll show you why. 

We’re going to lay out the path to get you on track to the best sleep of your life: discussing RSD (and other sleep issues), important symptoms to track your diagnosis, general causes of sleep problems, and the best way to use LED light therapy to help you out. 

So, if you find yourself tossing and turning all night, or if you’re just sick of restless nights spent awake - read on!

So, What Is Restless Sleep Disorder Exactly?

Shockingly, RSD is a relatively new diagnosis. Until recently, the only kind of restless sleep disorder was Restless Leg Syndrome (which I’ll get into later). It wasn’t until the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study on restless sleep in children that the issue became discussed. While there isn’t as much research on restless sleeping in adults, we can safely assume that these issues carry over.

Now that we have a little more information, the general definition is that RSD is a sleep disorder characterized by consistent interrupted sleep, frequent body movement (voluntary or involuntary), and daytime fatigue.

Sound familiar? If so, you may have RSD! 

What Are the Other Different Kinds of Sleep Disorders?

For those not struggling with Restless Sleep Disorder but who may be thinking they have a different issue, this section should help! Here are the 5 most common types of sleep disorders: 

1. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Told ya I’d get back to it! RLS is a type of disorder in which your legs shake or move around due to an uncomfortable or strange sensation coming from your legs, feet, and/or thighs. It most often occurs at night while you’re trying to sleep, which makes it fairly difficult. This disorder is observed most frequently in adults, and gets worse the older you are.

Can it be treated with LED light therapy? Yes! There are several studies on using light therapy lamps to help with RLS. By using relaxation and steadying your circadian rhythm, light lamps can help. 

2. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

RBD is a particularly physical disorder, in which the person affected actually uses their body to act their dream out in the real world. Unlike those suffering from restless sleep, people with RBD do actually sleep, but may still find they deal with physical and mental fatigue in the morning. Because RBD sufferers have a lack of paralysis that usually comes with sleeping, they may sleepwalk, talk, move, or even get violent - leading to a danger not just to themselves, but to others as well.

Can it be treated with LED light therapy? No. Because RBD occurs in the REM cycle, it is typically only treated with medication given to you after diagnosis by a doctor. However, light therapy lamps are overall very relaxing and have other benefits, so you may want to try one anyway!

3. Insomnia

Insomnia can come on its own, or with other disorders. Insomnia is defined as the inability to consistently fall or stay asleep. It is divided into Acute Insomnia (short term insomnia caused by things like jet lag) and Chronic Insomnia (long term insomnia that lasts longer than a month). Those with Restless Sleep Syndrome may find that they suffer from insomnia because of it! Insomnia can be caused by several things, including stress, nicotine, caffeine, excessive alcohol consumption, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, or just having a bad sleep environment.

Can it be treated with LED light therapy? Typically, yes. It should be noted that light therapy is not considered a total cure for insomnia (or any mental health problems for that matter), but it can help ease your symptoms and provide relaxation!

4. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is the term for those dealing with excessive sleepiness or drowsiness during the day that can’t be controlled. People who deal with narcolepsy may fall victim to random and sudden attacks of sleep during the day, even while walking or working. Unlike insomnia, it is hard for those with narcolepsy to stay awake. 

Can it be treated with LED light therapy? No. Like RBD, narcolepsy is typically only treated by medication.

5. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea results in interrupted sleep, and happens when your breathing pauses while you sleep, or if you’re taking shallow, irregular breaths. It reduces your sleep quality, and if left unchecked, can cause high blood pressure and even heart attacks. 

Can it be treated with LED light therapy? No. Sleep apnea is a physical health condition often caused by internal health factors. 

What Causes These Sleep Disorders?

While some of these issues are caused by internal health issues that require attention, most sleep disorders are caused by both physical and/or mental health issues, as well as environmental factors: 

  • Physical issues: Heartburn, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and thyroid disease can result in a sleep disorder. 
  • Mental health problems: Common issues like anxiety and/or depression have a massive effect on sleep. They are the most common reasons for issues such as Restless Sleep Disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome, and insomnia.
  • Environmental and external factors: Technology habits, child rearing, the amount of light in your room, too much physical and social activity, and even your melatonin levels can all also result in a sleep disorder.

How Do You Use a Light Therapy Lamp to Treat Restless Sleep Disorder?

So, we know now that light therapy (while not a cure) is one of the best solutions for those suffering from not only Restless Sleep Disorder, but depression, anxiety, RSL, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well.
But what is light therapy exactly? Well, it’s the use of a light therapy lamp to mimic the effects of the sun - so simple, yet so effective! Daily exposure to artificial LED light can help reduce the effects of many sleep and mental health disorders. If used properly, these lamps can help you feel more tired in the evening, and more awake in the morning when the sun is rising! 

Which Light Therapy Lamp Should I Use?

First things first - we need a light lamp in order to start the therapy! We recommend using the Circadian Optics LAMPU LED light therapy lamp. Inspired by (you guessed it) the sun, this lamp uses 10,000 LUX brightness to trick your brain into releasing chemicals that can help with restless sleep disorders, mental health, and overall sleep regulation. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, check out our website to find the lamp for you!

Lampu LED Light Therapy Lamp | Circadian Optics

How Do You Use a Light Therapy Lamp?

To get the best use out of your lamp, you’ll want to pick a consistent time each day - maybe before work, maybe after lunch - your choice!
Next, you’ll want to sit in front of the lamp for about 30 minutes. Make sure the light is between 16-24 inches from your face, and be sure you don’t look into the light directly. Do this daily for the best results! 

Final Thoughts

Any disorder is unpleasant, but Restless Sleep Disorder can be really damaging. We hope this article has helped you find your path to a better snooze. If you have any other questions, or are curious about what other products we offer, check out the Circadian Optics website!

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor