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Curious about how using an infrared sauna can benefit you? Keep reading to learn all about infrared saunas and how you can use them to improve many areas of your health!
If you’ve recently been seeing an influx of information about infrared saunas, you’re not alone.
Infrared saunas use far- and near-infrared light to penetrate body tissue and claim to provide a host of benefits. And they’re now more accessible with smaller, in-home options that are propelling them to health trend status.
As with any health trend, it can be difficult to cut through all the hype and misinformation regarding infrared saunas. That’s why I’ve created this simple, research-backed overview of the benefits of infrared sauna use.
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
- The differences between the two main types of infrared saunas.
- Some benefits of infrared sauna use.
- If you can use infrared saunas as a reliable way to “detox.”
It’s my goal to provide you with resources that help inform your health and wellness decisions. I want you to feel empowered about every aspect of your health, and to be able to determine if a certain health trend or fad is worth focusing your time, energy, and financial resources on.
So let’s dive into the facts about infrared saunas and how they may help you fearlessly reach your health and wellness goals!
Why Use an Infrared Sauna?
At the most basic level, infrared saunas use light to create heat.
Traditional saunas use other means, like fire, gas, or steam to create heat. Infrared saunas use only light at very specific wavelengths to penetrate and heat up body tissue below the surface of the skin.
This deeper heat penetration enables infrared saunas to exert a wider range of health benefits beyond traditional saunas. And they do this without raising your core body temperature as drastically as traditional saunas would.
The spectrum of light that gives the infrared sauna its name can uniquely affect positive changes in our cells and organs in ways that traditionally heated saunas can’t.
If you’re looking to do more than just sweat during your sauna session, you’ll want to use an infrared sauna!
Don’t get me wrong; traditional saunas are still good for you. They’re great for increasing circulation, relaxing muscles, and boosting those feel-good chemical endorphins.
However, the benefits of infrared sauna use extend far beyond those of a traditional sauna.
Keep reading to learn how infrared saunas can be a valuable tool in your journey to better health.
Differences Between Near and Far Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas fall into two main categories: near-infrared saunas and far-infrared saunas.
Both types of infrared saunas use light to penetrate tissue and exert health benefits, but they do it slightly differently.
Near-infrared saunas produce light that has a shorter wavelength than its far-infrared counterpart. But the near-infrared light is actually stronger and able to penetrate deeper into tissue than far-infrared light can.
The light from near-infrared saunas can excite the energy-producing enzymes in our mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse). This boost in mitochondria function initiates many healing processes inside the cell.
Far-infrared light, on the other hand, does not directly affect the cell’s mitochondria. This wavelength of light does affect the health of the cell, however, by exciting water molecules around it.
These “excited” water molecules produce heat and may also increase mitochondria function, although not as directly or effectively as near-infrared light.
Research isn’t as clear why far-infrared light is as beneficial as near-infrared light. The light in the far-infrared spectrum doesn’t incite change directly to our cells, but rather the water molecules around them.
There are many clinical studies; however, that do point to a myriad of benefits of both types of infrared sauna use.
You’re more likely to find far-infrared saunas available for use in your home and at medical spas. Near-infrared saunas are found more commonly in medical settings for specific treatment purposes.
Both types are available for home use, but if you’ve done any research into specific products, you’ll have undoubtedly seen that near-infrared saunas are about 2-3 times the price of far-infrared, which can make them cost-prohibitive for many people.
And while there are some differences in the way each of these types of saunas work, you’ll likely experience many of the same benefits using either type of infrared sauna.
Benefits of Infrared Sauna Use
Now that we know what makes infrared saunas unique and how they work let’s dive into the specific benefits that they offer.
As with many other alternative health practices, you’ll see the best results with long-term, consistent use. Just hopping in an infrared sauna a couple times a month likely won’t get you the results you’re looking for.
And, infrared sauna use is not a replacement for other medical treatment. Infrared saunas are simply a great tool to add to your toolbox for improving your health holistically.
In order to get the best, most meaningful results, you should use infrared sauna therapy in conjunction with other lifestyle and diet interventions, as well as any necessary medication prescribed by your doctor.
Better Workout Recovery
One benefit of consistent infrared sauna use is that you’ll likely recover faster and more completely from your workouts.
Infrared light helps to promote antioxidant production in your muscle tissue. These health-promoting compounds play an important role in reducing the oxidative stress that is often associated with muscle fatigue.
Studies also show that there is an increase in circulation following infrared light therapy. Increased circulation means our tissues receive more oxygen and other nutrients critical for recovery.
If you incorporate infrared sauna therapy into your training routine, you may be able to train more frequently without as many negative effects on your performance.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s beneficial to kill yourself in the gym every day just because you can recover a bit faster.
Overtraining can still be damaging to your performance, even with infrared sauna use. (Not to mention the effects it can have on your hormones, mood, and overall well being.)
But if you are working towards a strength goal, using an infrared sauna can help reduce the muscle loss and soreness that often follow an intense workout.
Improved Skin Health
If you’re struggling with skin issues like acne, fine lines, psoriasis, or eczema, using an infrared sauna may help.
Infrared light acts as a potent, natural anti-inflammatory treatment for your skin.
These wavelengths of light can alleviate acute and chronic skin inflammation by increasing blood flow to the skin.
The anti-inflammatory nature of infrared light means it’s a great alternative treatment for stubborn acne spots or other inflammatory skin conditions.
Plus, infrared light won’t interfere with any other skin treatments you’re using. You can safely add infrared sauna use to any topical or dietary changes you’re making to improve the health of your skin.
Another skin-boosting benefit of consistent infrared sauna use is that it increases your natural production of collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is an essential building block for healthy skin.
The more collagen you have, the more firm and elastic your skin will be. And while supplementing with collagen can certainly be helpful, your body utilizes collagen best when it produces it itself.
Whether you’re looking to reduce inflammation or minimize signs of aging, infrared sauna therapy can definitely benefit your skin health.
More Restful Sleep
Humans are supposed to sleep when it’s dark and be awake when it’s light. But in today’s technology-driven culture, we’re often watching TV or staring at our phones into the wee hours of the night.
This all too common practice gives our body the signal that there’s still light in our environment and it’s not quite time for sleep.
The harsh blue light produced by your phone, TV, or computer screen can affect how well you sleep. (Not to mention the unseen effects being constantly “plugged-in” can have on your mental health.)
Being exposed to this artificial light when our bodies are expecting darkness can directly inhibit our natural melatonin production. Without the right levels of melatonin, we can have more difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up refreshed.
When you surround yourself with the red light of an infrared sauna before bed, you’ll produce more melatonin.
More melatonin production means that you’ll be able to fall and stay asleep more easily.
The gentle heat produced by the infrared light can also improve circulation and relax your muscles. This can help you unwind from a busy day and get your body and mind ready for sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, trying out an infrared sauna could be beneficial in helping to reset your internal clock and getting better sleep!
Improved Thyroid Health
Thyroid conditions, whether you’re dealing with an autoimmune disease or just general hypo- or hyperthyroidism, can be tricky to manage.
Most practitioners will treat thyroid conditions with a combination of diet and lifestyle adjustments and medication.
Infrared sauna therapy is not a substitute for these other interventions. But exposing yourself to infrared light can be a useful tool when dealing with thyroid issues.
Studies have shown that with consistent infrared sauna use, people with thyroid conditions have needed less medication to control their condition.
These patients also showed a decrease in thyroid antibodies – markers of thyroid autoimmunity – and overall improved thyroid function.
Studies on infrared saunas and their benefits as a treatment for thyroid conditions is still in its infancy. But these initial studies show promise as another effective way to more holistically manage thyroid conditions.
If you’re suffering from a thyroid condition, please consult a trusted medical professional before attempting any infrared sauna use to make sure it’s a good option for you.
Brain Protection and Healing
Neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s can be a devastating diagnosis for you or a loved one to deal with.
Currently, we’re not able to completely halt the effect these conditions have on the brain. But infrared light therapy has recently emerged as a promising method of at least slowing the progress of these diseases.
Studies show that the therapeutic use of infrared light can be effective at slowing neuron death in people with these degenerative conditions.
This means that infrared light has the potential to give people suffering from neurodegenerative conditions a higher quality of life than they had previously with their condition.
In patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, specifically, infrared light therapy resulted in vast improvements in memory, overall cognitive function, and mood – without any negative side effects.
Researchers aren’t certain what aspect of infrared light therapy specifically helps to prevent neurodegeneration. But the increased mitochondrial activity and reduction in oxidative stress brought about by exposure to infrared light could play a major role in this treatment’s effectiveness.
Using infrared light therapy for controlling neurodegeneration is still relatively new. But there don’t seem to be many downsides to giving this therapeutic method a try.
Do Infrared Saunas Help You “Detox”?
One of the most common reasons I’ve seen for using saunas is as a tool to help the body “detox.”
Detoxification is a complicated process. And “detox” has many more steps and intricacies than many people realize. It isn’t just as simple as sitting in a sauna and sweating it all out.
The vast majority of toxins in our body are actually filtered out by our liver and kidneys. They’re then removed from our body through our digestive tract or urine. (That’s pooping and peeing if it wasn’t clear!)
But that doesn’t mean sweating in a sauna is useless for detox.
Using an infrared sauna can stimulate other bodily processes that can aid in the excretion of these toxins from your body. These saunas stimulate lymph flow, increase circulation, and promote the release of stored toxins from our cells, especially our fat cells. All of this can assist your major detoxification organs in packaging and removing toxins.
Plus, there is some evidence that induced heat from saunas may cause us to sweat out more heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. And it’s possible that sweat may be an effective way to reduce our body’s accumulation of synthetic plastic compounds like BPA and phthalates.
So can saunas actually help you detox? Yes, they can.
With consistent use, infrared light can help your body in its natural removal of toxins and accumulated waste.
Just be sure to shower immediately after using the sauna to make sure those toxins that were released in your sweat don’t get reabsorbed, counteracting part of the detoxification process!
My Favorite Infrared Sauna
Looking for someone who looks cute using a sauna? You’re on the wrong website. 🙂
As you’ve seen by now, there are many benefits to consistent infrared sauna use!
And with little to no side effects, it’s almost a no-brainer to integrate infrared light therapy into your wellness routine.
However, getting to a spa or the gym to use a sauna can make it difficult to use this technology as consistently as necessary to get the full benefit.
This is why I wanted to share the at-home infrared sauna that I use to help me be more consistent with my sauna use.
I’ve been using the Relax Sauna for a while now, and I absolutely love it!
The Relax Sauna is a far-infrared sauna that I can use from the comfort of my own home. I love that I can just hop in and reap all the benefits of infrared light therapy from my living room. It only takes a few minutes to heat up. Within 10-15 minutes I’ve gotten a full sweat on.
Sure it’s not “cute” to look like a baked potato while using a sauna. But you can’t beat the convenience factor. With my hands and head free, I can easily watch my favorite Netflix shows or even read a book while quickly getting the benefits of infrared sauna.
And even though it’s not cheap, with regular use this sauna will pay for itself fairly quickly. Compared to what I would be spending using a commercial infrared sauna, the Relax Sauna doesn’t completely break the bank.
If you’re ready to experience the benefits of infrared sauna use at home, I’d highly recommend checking out the Relax Sauna.
Being able to use infrared light therapy from home at my own convenience removed a huge roadblock for me, and has enabled me (and my husband!) to see the benefits from consistent sauna use.
If you’re looking for a near-infrared sauna, be prepared to spend more money. The most popular product I’ve seen on the market is the SaunaSpace. I’ve used it a few times at conferences, and it seems like a high-quality product.
(I did find that I sweat way faster in the Relax Sauna, making it more convenient in my mind. At 1/3 the price, it was easy to see the value of that product. This is why I bought it!)
If the full enclosed sauna system isn’t in your budget, SaunaSpace does sell a single panel light that could be a good choice if you only need a small area of skin exposed to near-infrared sauna. You can even combine this with the Relax Sauna, using the Photon panel on your face simultaneously. This is something I’m considering doing to maximize the benefits while minimizing the cost!
Have you used an infrared sauna? Did you notice any of the benefits I mentioned in this article? Or did you experience any health improvements that weren’t discussed?
Share your experience with infrared saunas in the comments below!