9 Benefits To Know BEFORE Buying an Infrared Sauna and How They Work
written by: Michael Lamew
For those who want the benefits of a sauna, but can't quite tolerate their heat, an alternative exists.
But, how do infrared saunas work, exactly? And what are the benefits of infrared saunas?
On this page, we'll answer those in-depth so you have all the tools necessary to make the best decision for you.
And last, we’re not doctors, sorry mom, so please refer to our references included for further research. Thank you.
Now let's jump in.
How Do Infrared Saunas Work?
Infrared Saunas work by heating an air-tight enclosure using infrared heat that’s invisible to the eye.
This is unlike traditional saunas that rely on steam to produce heat, which you can see, obviously.
Light infrared panels generate invisible heat, which penetrates the surface of your skin.
Now, before you freak out, know that infrared heat is safe as long as you follow each manufacturer's recommended instructions for use.
It’s simply radiated heat, something we naturally encounter every day—like the heat of the sun.
But diving deeper, what exactly makes them different from traditional saunas?
Dr. Richard Beever, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of British Columbia, explains: “As infrared heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air, users develop a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature than they would in traditional saunas.” (1)
You see, a regular sauna’s heat and steam come from highly heated rocks. This creates higher, and drier heat—until you pour water on the rocks, which will increase humidity.
However, not a lot of people like to feel such high-intensity heat.
Infrared saunas are technically called "far" infrared saunas because it describes the infrared waves falling on the light spectrum.
While a traditional sauna warms the air in the room, a far infrared sauna will heat your body directly, without necessarily heating up the air around you.
Infrared saunas are more appealing because they emit lower, more comfortable temperatures.
But just because an infrared sauna doesn't heat up as high as a traditional sauna, doesn't mean it's less effective.
The method of heating is irrelevant because the heat from a light infrared sauna will still make you sweat the same way.
So, if both units succeed in making you sweat...
What are the Benefits of Infrared Saunas?
Infrared saunas offer dozens of health benefits to the human body, just like a regular sauna.
One systematic review of both infrared and regular saunas actually suggests that any positive effect from using regular saunas can also be seen in infrared therapy. (2)
And although there’s only a handful of research specifically exploring infrared heat, various studies have been dedicated towards the positive effect of heat therapy over the years.
Without further to do, here are the top nine benefits of infrared saunas.
#1. They can sometimes improve your sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in keeping your body healthy and energized. Sadly, getting enough quality sleep isn’t easy for most of us.
Adding an infrared sauna can be a great idea if you’re looking for creative ways to help improve your sleep.
A 2015 study showed that infrared sauna therapy can sometimes help people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Just imagine easily getting a quick 20-minute infrared therapy session before going to bed.
It just might be your new favorite part of your nightly routine!
#2. Helps with pain management in some cases
Are you prone to body aches?
An infrared sauna can sometimes be great for individuals that:
- Suffer from inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and
- Want to reduce physical discomfort from sports or working out
A small study explored the effects of infrared heat therapy for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Infrared saunas can sometimes be a form of natural pain relief, hence their increasing popularity.
That’s because it produces heat that penetrates joints, tissues, and muscles, increasing circulation and speeding oxygen flow.
#3. They have been found to improve cardiovascular health
Did you know that one person dies from cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds? (5)
Knowing this, it’s usually wise to invest in your health if you know the right product exists.
According to a small study, infrared therapy can sometimes be great for your heart because it can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney disease. (6)
But the greatest results were observed in people who used the sauna for 4 to 7 times a week.
Far infrared saunas are perfect in this regard, since they emit a more comfortable kind of heat.
This way, more sessions per week would be less burdensome and intense than traditional saunas.
#4. Improved skin health is a result of their use for some individuals
Sweating might not sound appealing to you, but its how your skin helps you to get rid of harmful toxins.
You’ve probably heard people say that infrared saunas help with “detoxification.”
According to a 2011 study, many toxic elements in the body are “preferentially excreted through sweat.” (8)
Even purposely induced sweating will do just the trick.
Dermatologist Dr. Doris Day says that sweating is great for the skin in different ways. She explains: “It helps with water balance for your entire body. It also contains natural moisturizing factor, which helps keep the skin hydrated and healthy.”(9)
#5. Sometimes helps to prevent colds and other viral diseases
That’s because sweating is one of our immune system’s first line of defense against diseases.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that when we sweat, an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin is secreted through our skin glands.
Dermcidin is active against a broad spectrum of bacteria, decreasing our chances of acquiring viral illnesses. (10)
#6. Some individuals report weight loss
Let’s be clear: on its own, infrared heat won’t make you lose weight. That’s because spending time in saunas will only help you lose “water weight.”
However, infrared therapy can still be a great addition to your weight loss program.
According to holistic doctor Dr. Frank Lipman:
“There is evidence that infrared saunas, because of their ability to penetrate the skin more deeply, increase metabolic rate and can help the body burn off anywhere from 200 to 600 calories in a half-hour session.”(11)
A healthy diet and regular exercise paired with infrared therapy will no doubt get you results.
#7. Some studies show positive effects on brain health
Spending time in a sauna can be good for your whole body, even your brain in some cases.
According to a 20-year long study, people who use the sauna for 4 to 7 times a week could have a decreased risk of getting brain disease. In fact, they're 66 % less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and 65 % less likely with Alzheimer’s disease. (12)
University of Eastern Finland medical professor and senior researcher Jari Laukkanen explains:
"In the sauna, the heart rate increases and we start to sweat. This is a bit like physical exercise. After sauna, you may have lower blood pressure, and blood pressure is an important risk factor in cardiovascular and memory diseases. This may be one possible explanation for our findings." (13)
#8. It can be a stress reliever
Some infrared sauna users are super-athletes looking to get an edge up on their competition.
On the other hand, there’s those who just want a place where they can find some peace of mind from the 9-5 grind.
Who’s with me on that one?
That's no surprise because sauna enclosures offer a warm and quiet space to relax, clear your mind, and step away from the busy demands of life.
As sauna baths improve blood circulation, it forces your body to stimulate natural endorphins, or explained simpler, happy hormones, which immediately helps you feel better.
That's exactly why they call it the "after sauna glow."
#9. They can offer social and recreational benefits
Top-rated infrared saunas offer far more than just health advantages. It could be great for your social life, even, too.
Saunas are typically large enough to accommodate many people. While the average infrared sauna is smaller than a regular one, they can usually fit at least 2 people inside.
Some custom designs are available, too, which can be as high as 7' x 8' x 7'. You may even install additional features like colored light therapy and sound systems to elevate the experience more.
And you can do that, too. So don't hesitate to invite your friends over for some spa therapy.
Who knows, it could be your friend group’s new thing!
Summing It Up and What To Do Next
To sum it all up, your health and well-being can greatly benefit from regular infrared sauna sessions.
Adding one to your home can be a smart choice for health-conscious homeowners who are looking for new ways to supplement their already healthy lifestyle. To wrap this up, let’s ponder an important question together.
Ready? Let’s do this.
What’s the price you put on “feeling great?” It’s different for everyone.
I’m sure you’ll find something you like!