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The “hidden” power of (sun)light: How near-infrared light can improve your well-being

A blog written by Marina Giménez (University of Groningen)

Research has consistently shown that exposure to natural sunlight is crucial for human health and well-being. Sunlight contains both visible and non-visible light; one component of non-visible light is near-infrared (NIR). Therapeutic exposure to doses of NIR light, known as photobiomodulation (PBM), has been shown to be effective for a wide range of conditions.

Chrono@Work has conducted a scientific research project for Seaborough. The study was set up to assess the effects of PBM on health and well-being, in a double-blind randomised, placebo-controlled manner. A total of 56 participants with ages ranging from 25 to 64 years with mild sleep complaints participated in the study. Three doses of PBM were tested against no PBM. The study found positive effects on well-being and health, notably improvement in mood, reduction in drowsiness, reduction in some aspects of inflammation, and reduction in resting heart rate for the highest PBM dose tested. These benefits were significant in winter, when it is more difficult to get sufficient sunlight in the Netherlands. The study found no significant effects on sleep or circadian rhythms (the paper can be found here). A follow-up study is currently being prepared to better understand the mechanisms of the systemic positive effects.

The study was conducted in people's homes or workplaces, as available technology makes it possible to construct PBM devices that can be easily integrated into people's daily lives. With more people spending their time indoors, this technology facilitates a new way to help improve overall health and well-being with light. The results of this study may open up new ways to create optimal environments for a healthier society by preventing certain negative effects caused by lack of sunlight exposure.

If you are looking for a way to improve your well-being and health, consider incorporating photobiomodulation (PBM) into your daily routine, especially on those dark winter days. While, the present effective PBM dose could be achieved after about 12 minutes of sunlight in a summer day, this would only be achieved after 7 hours on a cloudy winter day. Considering that in winter people wear protective clothes with very little skin exposed to sunlight, and that sunny winter days are exceptional occasions in Northern Europe, our PBM dose would rarely ever be reached in the winter months.

Remember that it is important to use a PBM setup that provides you with the right dose of NIR light. Although there are no products with Seaborough's technology on the market yet, feel free to contact Dr Anne Berends for more information on technology details or partnerships.

We are currently running a follow up study and we are looking for participants. If you would like to receive more information please send us an email to: or visit our website:



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