Light can have a significant impact on your sleep and your health.
In today's podcast, you're going to discover the hidden dangers of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting that most people are completely unaware of, including the risk of cataracts, blindness, age-related macular degeneration, mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic disorders, disrupted circadian biology and sleep, cancer and more.
LED light is currently used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting, automotive headlamps, advertising, general lighting, traffic signals, camera flashes, and lighted wallpaper. Large-area LED displays are used as stadium displays, dynamic decorative displays, and dynamic message signs on freeways. Thin, lightweight message displays are used at airports and railway stations, and as destination displays for trains, buses, trams, and ferries. LED's are also used in traffic lights and signals, exit signs, emergency vehicle lighting, ships' navigation lights, aircraft cockpits, brake lights, submarine and ship bridges, astronomy observatories, night vision, glowsticks and more.
My guest is Dr. Alexander Wunsch, who is a physician, researcher and lecturer in light medicine and photobiology with particular interest in light effects and beneficial or adverse health impacts of solar radiation and artificial light sources on endocrine and cellular levels in humans. He conducts studies on photobiological effects of optical (UV, VIS and IR) radiation.
In his private medical practice in Heidelberg, he uses therapeutic light spectra in combination with other biophysically based treatments and develops light equipment for medical and cosmetic purposes. He is associate lecturer at the Wismar University of Applied Sciences and mentors students in their master theses in light and health-associated topics. Alexander Wunsch presents at international conferences and operates as a consultant for federal authorities, media and industry.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why LED light is so much different than other forms of light, especially with regards to how it affects your biology…[7:10]
-The biggest sources of LED in your personal environment…[16:22]
-Why monitor and light bulb flickering is such a serious issue when it comes to your health…[19:35]
-How LED's (especially when used after sunset) vastly reduces the regenerative and restoring capacities of your eyes…[23:35]
-Why near infrared, which is missing from LED light, is so important for you to be exposed to…[38:45]
-What the healthiest type of lighting is to use and what should you look for when choosing a light…[53:00]
-The two parameters you must look for in a light bulb, and what numbers those parameters should be at…[54:20 & 56:20]
-Top recommendations for computer screens that don't damage your eyes…[70:15]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Alexander or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!
I have received multiple questions about the “Joovv” light that I use daily for testosterone enhancement (read more here or watch this video) – specifically whether the LED lights in the Joovv are harmful. Here is my take on that:
The guy who makes the Joovv (Scott Nelson) is a friend of mine. Before starting Joovv, he spent close to 15 years in the medical device industry (with companies like Medtronic, Covidien, Boston Scientific, etc) and worked closely with world-renowned physicians, primarily the “who's who” in the fields of interventional cardiology, interventional radiology, and cardiovascular surgery. I do know he's studied the field of photomedicine quite a bit and have learned the following in conversations with him:
-There are hundreds of published studies that point to the benefits of LLLT at specific wavelengths (both red and IR). There is a robust amount of clinical evidence that supports both red light (in the mid 600nm range) as well as IR. That's why Joovv offers the ability to add red, IR, or a combination of red/IR to their devices. So I don't *think* it's just “simple red light”.
-I asked them why LED's are used in Joovv, and they replied that you get 10x the efficiency without the heat loss, and included a graph that compares the WARP 10 device (LED-based red light) to a 250-watt heat lamp. (although way over-priced, the WARP 10 device was developed based on initial funding from NASA.)
-With that said, you can benefit from incadescent heat lamps. The first Joovv prototype utilized eight 250 watt incandescent infrared heat lamps (that tripped breakers constantly). Countless studies show that 4-5 Joules of energy is required to get noticeable benefits from red light therapy; many show treatments at more than 100 Joules. You would trip breakers and die of heat exhaustion (LOL) trying to get this from incandescent heat lamps. Their tests using irradiance meters mirror the photon flux and literally, an inch away, you are getting less than 5 mW/cm2 from these lamps because over 90% of the energy is wasted as heat. Alternatively, their Joovv devices deliver over 50mW/cm2 at 6″ way. And well over 100 mw/cm2 at an inch away. The efficiency of heat lamps is low in comparison to LEDs. So it would take 100 of these incandescent heat lamps bulbs (and more electricity than a 200 amp residential service can provide) to equal the output from their devices – not to mention the over-heating issue.
-The key with any light therapy device is consistency. And the major problem with most light therapy devices (heat lamps included) is twofold: small treatment area combined with subpar output. That's why most of these devices recommend treatment times of 20+ minutes. They designed their devices to optimize for these two gaps in the market – treatment area and power output. The “net net” is that you don't have to use teir devices very long while still receiving benefits over a large surface area. Compliance is king when it comes to light therapy – and they feel their Joovv devices help with this issue.
– Their devices emit negligible EMFs. Well below the 2 milligauss threshold.
– Regarding red light and its ability to energize mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase – see this seminal piece: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790317/
– If you're comparing apples to apples, the Joovv devices are under-priced. Look at other players in the space – LightStim, Baby Quasar, etc. – when you consider the treatment size and power output, their devices are priced pretty fair. I mean, the LightStim LED bed is selling for $60k (not joking). The comparable Joovv Light Max starts out at $2395.
And then there is this, from one of the lead Joovv engineers:
“There is no question that LEDs are far more energy efficient, that is why the government banned the incandescent. They are energy efficient on steroids no question about that. But you are making the same mistake as the government saying that there is all this wasted energy.
It is only wasted from the perspective of being able to provide visible light that can help you see. BUT that “wasted” energy is primarily FULL SPECTRUM near infrared with a touch of mid infrared in the example of heat lamps as you can see by the graph I sent on the last email. This “wasted” energy has very powerful biological effects, especially on the mitochondria.”
Anyways, just threw in these last bits for you true geeks out there. In the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback below…
Also published on Medium.