What Is an Infrared Sauna?
What Is an Infrared Sauna?
February 28th, 2023 | Wellness Tech & Best Practice
Discover the Power of Infrared Sauna Therapy!
Whether you’re looking for a way to enhance your health and wellness routine or simply wish you had more energy throughout your day, infrared sauna therapy offers tons of benefits—even for those with chronic diseases. On top of this, they also offer a relaxing (and healthy!) way to de-stress.
So, what should you know?
From what is an infrared sauna to infrared sauna benefits, we explore everything you need to know below. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What Is an Infrared Sauna?
It’s no secret that infrared sauna blankets and infrared sauna spas are a growing health trend worldwide. Whereas a traditional sauna heats the air, which then heats your body, an infrared sauna uses light to warm your body directly1.
On the other hand, an infrared sauna blanket is essentially the same thing. The only difference is that it comes in blanket form, which can provide a more versatile and mobile option.
Yet, both types of infrared saunas have various benefits. They can help detoxify your body, boost your metabolism, improve sleep, and so much more.
What Is an Infrared Sauna Good For?
Infrared sauna therapy offers an all-natural way to enhance your health and wellness. And it does this in many different ways, including the following.
1. Infrared Saunas Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, there is some evidence showing that infrared sauna therapy can help normalize blood pressure and potentially even help treat congested heart failure2.
2. It Enhances Detoxifying The Body
Scientific studies indicate that infrared sauna therapy can help detoxify the body. For instance, in one study, individuals with neurotoxicity symptoms reported fewer “poor physical health” days after 4-6 weeks of sauna usage1.
Other studies have further indicated that heavy metal levels, such as mercury, have decreased post-sauna therapy3. This was attributed to increased sweating brought on by the sauna.
Additionally, scientific research clearly indicates that perspiration (sweating) facilitates the removal of various toxins compounds, including BPAs and phthalates, from the body4,5. In this way, infrared saunas and infrared sauna blankets can help your body properly detoxify, allowing your organs and systems to perform their jobs without interference.
3. It Helps Improve Muscle Recovery
For those with ambitious exercise goals, an infrared sauna could be the addition to your routine that you need to take your workout to the next level. In fact, research shows how infrared saunas can reduce the range of motion and muscle function deficits caused by delay-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)6.
Studies even demonstrate how strength training athletes who used far infrared heat had improved neuromuscular recovery and more favorable testosterone to cortisol ratios7. Further research also showed that neuromuscular recovery from maximal endurance performance was accelerated with the use of a far infrared sauna when compared to no sauna use8.
4. It Can Help Boost Your Energy
Cellular energy, ATP, is produced by the mitochondria in the body’s cells. Studies show that far-infrared rays can actually improve mitochondrial function, leading to increased energy9. Experts believe this could improve glucose metabolism and other functions in individuals with metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Other studies showed that ATP production increased from the cell mitochondria with far infrared heat exposure10.
And there’s more! One study showed that not only did ATP production increase with far infrared heat exposure, but the body also actively worked to repair damaged cells associated with cellular respiration and ATP production11.
5. It Helps You Relax!
Far-infrared rays have been used to help enhance the relaxation effects associated with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture12. How do they do this? Infrared rays activate your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest-and-digest system) while simultaneously turning off your sympathetic nervous system (your fight-or-flight system). This leads you to feel more relaxed and less stressed.
In turn, you may notice you get a better sleep when you add infrared sauna therapy to your regular regime, which may prove useful for those with insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Additionally, this activation of the parasympathetic nervous system leads to lowered cortisol throughout the body. This can prevent various chronic and life-threatening diseases from developing, which are linked to higher levels of cortisol. This was further demonstrated in one study where researchers showed how cortisol increases with heat but then falls significantly lower afterward13. Another study also showed a decrease in serum cortisol via blood tests after far infrared sauna use14.
Myths About Infrared Saunas
Unfortunately, when any health practice goes global, misconceptions and myths tend to spread like wildfire. Infrared saunas and infrared sauna blankets are no exception. So, what myths can we quickly debunk right here and now?
While infrared saunas are often thought of as pricey and expensive, a traditional sauna tends to cost much more, making infrared saunas and infrared sauna blankets a more affordable option. It also can be cheaper in the long run when compared to keeping your gym or spa membership merely for infrared sauna usage.
Another quick myth we can hit out of the ballpark? Longer in an infrared sauna doesn’t mean you get more benefits. In fact, there are various dangers to exposing yourself to high heat for long durations. In other words, this isn’t ever a good idea. With that in mind, let’s check out the right way to use an infrared sauna so you can gain all the health benefits you desire.
How To Use an Infrared Sauna
Below, we offer a quick outline of general infrared sauna usage and guidelines.
Make sure you’re properly hydrated before any sauna session, as well as consume adequate electrolytes. Examples of foods high in electrolytes include spinach, pickle juice, potatoes, bananas, and lentils.
You’ll also want to change into loose and comfortable clothing. Lastly, steer clear from alcohol or caffeine right before your session, as these can quickly lead to dehydration and associated adverse effects.
Bring water with you into the sauna! Or sip on a glass of water while wrapped in your infrared sauna blanket. On top of this, you may want to meditate or perform light exercises (such as stretching or yoga) to pass the time. Intend to spend about 20-60 minutes in the sauna or blanket. If you’re just starting out, begin with 10-15 minutes and gradually increase your duration from there.
Again, hydration is key! Furthermore, you’ll probably want to shower off to get rid of any sweat, so make sure you plan your time accordingly. You may even want to consider a cold shower following your sauna session for the ultimate relaxation and health benefits. Aim to use your infrared sauna for at least 3-4 sessions per week for optimal benefits.