Intranasal Light Therapy helps Treat Insomnia and Sleep Disorder


While pharmaceutical medication designed to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders currently exists – these pills often come with negative side effects. Intranasal light therapy may provide a viable, safe and cost-effective alternative to drugs with little to no negative side effects.


Bright light therapy

Conventional light therapy, especially that is involved with regulating sleep rhythm involves the use of bright blue light in the morning. Bright blue light has the effect of suppressing melatonin, a hormone that encourages the body to go into sleep mode and regulate the sleep cycle (or circadian rhythm).

However, red light as used in intranasal low level light therapy, appears to have the opposite effect to the blue light by working with the melatonin to regulate the sleep cycle. Related studies demonstrate correlation between its use and the presence of increased levels of melatonin in patients with sleep disorder.

The two modalities can also be combined; the bright blue light for use in the morning soon after waking up, and the intranasal red light therapy for use at night before retiring to bed.


Research on insomnia and intranasal red light therapy

Anecdotal research that supports the efficacy of intranasal light therapy for sleep disorder has been elucidated. The clinical trials below support this.

Success in regulating sleep involves addressing the substances and factors that affect sleep

It is common knowledge that the hormone melatonin plays the key role in regulating the circadian rhythm, the daily cycle that prepares one’s body to sleep or stay awake.

The first documented use of a similar intranasal light therapy device to directly observe melatonin level was conducted by Xu C et al in 2001. They treated 38 subjects that had insomnia with intranasal low level laser therapy once a day over 10 days. They found that serum melatonin had increased.[1]

The same group of researchers further treated another group of 128 patients with insomnia and found that the polysomnogram (sleep study that includes data on brain waves as electrical activity) data had improved.[2]

In 2006, Wang F et al reported that they had treated 50 patients with insomnia with intranasal low level laser therapy that is of similar specifications to Vielight’s low level laser therapy device for 60 minutes per session. Each session was conducted once a day over between 10 to 14 days. They found that the condition had improved significantly in 41 (82%) of the cases, mild for 4 (8%) of the cases, and none for 5 (10%) of the cases.[3]

The other factors

The research above infers intranasal light therapy as an effective method for increasing melatonin. However, insomnia and sleep disorders are also affected by other factors. Factors that can cause sleep problems include:

  • Physical (for example, pain and discomfort)
  • Medical (for example, asthma)
  • Neural (for example, depression and anxiety disorders)

Short-term or acute insomnia can be caused by life stresses (such as job loss or change, death of a loved one, or moving), illness, or environmental factors, such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures. These can be overcome with the passing of time or the help of cognitive therapy which are outside the scope of this paper.

It is the long-term or chronic insomnia, which occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer, that is of greater concern. This can be caused by physical and neural factors such as pain and depression. It has been found that in fact, intranasal low level laser therapy can modulate these factors, which would result in improved sleep.


Supporting research on modulating pain

Pain is a common contributor to sleep deprivation. It is not often cited in literature because this fact is obvious. We have received positive feedback in regards to intranasal low level light therapy alleviating systemic pain such as in the case of fibromyalgia.

In a study presented in 1998, intranasal light therapy was shown to be able to treat chronic headache, migraine and trigeminal neuralgia (which involves severe facial pain) when tested on 39 patients . After 2 weeks of treatment of 30 minutes a day, 26 (66.7%) experienced significant improvement, 9 (23.1%) mild, and 4 (10.2%) no improvement.

Blood β endorphin (a hormone that alleviates pain) was also found in the 35 patients that experienced improved symptoms.[5] [6] β endorphin is endogenous in the central nervous system. It also has the added bonus effect of slowing down the growth of cancer cells.[7]


Supporting research on treatment of medical conditions

Over the decades, numerous studies support different light therapy methods to treat many diseases. This is through the restoration of homeostasis, both at systemic as well as cellular level.[8]

More recently, the intranasal method is increasingly recognised as a legitimate therapeutic technology in view of the evidence accumulated internationally.[9] Asthma is one such disease that interferes with sleep, which is addressed with intranasal light therapy.


Supporting research on the treatment of depression and other neural disorders

When Xu C et al studied the effects of intranasal light therapy on post-stroke patients, they found the number of positive responses to be significant. They also found that the level of serum melatonin has increased.[10] The results suggest that the nasal therapy reverses depression.

Neural disorders respond to transcranial light therapy. The process involves illuminating the brain from outside the skull (“transcranial”) without any physical intrusion, usually using light of red to infrared red wavelengths. Some disorders found to be responsive to this therapy are stroke, traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases.[11]

In comparison to the transcranial modality, the intranasal modality should achieve the similar outcomes more efficiently because there are less tissue barriers between the light source and most parts of the brain through the nasal cavity.



The mechanisms of action involved in intranasal light therapy are still in the early stages of discovery. Notwithstanding this, evidence are there to support the efficacy of this healing modality for improving sleep disorder, either by regulating the circadian rhythm or overcoming the other neural disorders that affect sleep.


The full paper on intranasal light therapy as a natural treatment for insomnia and sleep disorder can be downloaded here.



 [1]Xu C, Wang L, Tan Y, Li Q. 2001. Endonasal low energy He-Ne laser treatment of insomnia. Qian Wei J Med & Pharm. 18(5): 337-338 (in Chinese).

 [2] Xu C, Wu Z, Wang L, Shang X, Li Q. 2002. The effect of endonasal low energy He-Ne laser treatment on insomniaon on sleep EEG. Prac J Med Pharm. 19(6): 407-408 (in Chinese).

 [3] Wang F. 2006. Therapeutic effect observation and nurse of intranasal low intensity laser therapy on insomnia. Journal of Community Medicine. 4(3): 58 (in Chinese).

 [4] Chen YM, Cheng HY. 2004. Clinical observation of the integrated therapy of intranasal low intensity He-Ne laser therapy and herb therapy on insomnia. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese Materia Medica of Jilin. 24(4): 38 (in Chinese).

 [5] Li Q, Guo K, Kang J and Jiang B. 1998. Clinic analysis of endonasal low energy He-Ne laser treatment of 39 cases of intractable headache. Acta Academiae Medicine Qingdao Universitis (1):53 (in Chinese).

[6] Li Q, Guo K, Kang J, Jiang B and Wang J. 1998. β endorphin research for endonasal low energy He-Ne laser treatment of ache in head or face. Chin J Neurol. 31(2): 91 (in Chinese).

[7] Sarkar DK, Zhang C, Boyadjieva N. 2012. Regulation of cancer progression by β-endorphin neuron. Cancer Res. 2012 Feb 15;72(4):836-40.

[8]  Moshkovshka T, Mayberry J. 2005. It is time to test low level laser therapy in Great Britain. Postgrad Med J. 81: 436-441.

[9] Liu CY, Zhu P. 2009. Intranasal Low Intensity Laser Therapy. People’s Military Medical Press. Beijing.

 [10] Xu C , Wang L, C Lu C. 2003. Endonasal low-energy He-Ne laser treatment of post-stroke depression. Prac. J. Med & Pharm 19(11): 893 (in Chinese).

 [11] Naeser M, Hamblin MR. 2011. Potential for Transcranial Laser or LED Therapy to Treat Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Neurodegenerative Disease.  Photomed & Laser Surgery. 29(7): 443-446.

 [12] Hashmi JT, Huang YY, Osmani BZ, Sharma SK, Naeser MA and Hamblin MR. 2010. Role of Low-level Laser Therapy in Neurorehabiliation. Am Ac Phys Med and Rehab. Suppl 2 S292-S305.

 [13] Shirani A, Erik K. 2009. Illuminating Rationale and Uses of Light Therapy. J Clin Sleep Med. 5(2): 155-163.

 [14] Moshkovshka T, Mayberry J. 2005. It is time to test low level laser therapy in Great Britain. Postgrad Med J. 81: 436-441.


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