From health benefits to the simple fact that it’s among one of the most relaxing things we can do in the modern world, saunas have been exceptionally popular since before they were ever part of a local gym. People have been trying to sweat their troubles away since the fifth century. Thankfully, the modern world means we don’t have to set up a pole building or tent to experience the benefits of saunas. Instead, we find them in our gyms and, if you’re lucky, even in your own homes. However, you might be wondering just how safe these modern wonders are. Well, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about infrared saunas, from how long it’s safe to stay to the benefits you can expect.
Traditional Vs. Infrared Saunas
Traditional saunas depend on creating heat in one form or another. From the original ideas of tents and steam to the modern electric sauna, these all require intense heat to benefit the user. They heat up the air in the space so much that you begin to sweat. Temperatures in the traditional sauna can reach up to 200 degrees. Some people love the idea but simply can’t handle the heat.
Infrared Saunas, on the other hand, use infrared technology. This keeps the temperatures on the lower side of sweltering and opens the sauna up to those more sensitive to heat. They run between 120 degrees to 150 degrees at the higher end. You don’t lose any of the benefits of the higher heat. Infrared light penetrates the body and heats you up directly rather than heating the air around you. You still get the hallmark of a sauna experience, sweat.
Infrared saunas also don’t use steam like most traditional saunas. No heavy hard-to-breathe air.
How Long is it Safe to Stay in an Infrared Sauna?
Beginners shouldn’t stay in a traditional sauna for more than five to ten minutes. Even those who are relatively experienced limit their stays to the 15-minute range. That’s because of the intensity of the heat.
Infrared saunas offer the option of a much longer experience. Beginners should still be cautious. Though the heat is lower, anything over 100 degrees is still intense, and people should be careful. It’s also always wise to consult your physician before beginning any health program.
However, many users feel comfortable working up to the 40–50-minute range.
Infrared Sauna Safety Tips
Hydrate! Yeah, that water is way more important than you think it is. It can be easy to skip your water bottle in favour of that afternoon coffee to make it through the day, but in this case, it’s critical to remember to hydrate. Remember that sweat is one of the main points of getting into a sauna. Consider getting a glass of water before you start your session to help avoid dehydration.
Some professionals recommend something with electrolytes instead.
Minimal to no clothing is best. If you’re in the privacy of your own home, going in your birthday suit is the best way to experience the sauna. Just make sure you grab a towel.
Clothing, especially too much clothing, can be dangerous in a sauna. Your body sweats to help it cool down; covering up can prevent that.
Some think the more they wear, the better they will do, but this is a dangerous mistake. Your body won’t be able to cool down when you’re covered in clothes, and though you may sweat, you can still overheat.
Remember, you’re doing this for the benefit of your health. Tell your inner critic to be quiet for a while and at least go down to a bathing suit.
Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna
There’s a reason that saunas have been around for so long. It’s because they offer health benefits for those who use them. There have been a variety of studies that show saunas are suitable for both physical and mental health.
Mental Health Benefits
First, let’s talk about stress. Stress is one of the things in our modern world that is nearly unavoidable. From the high-pressure job to the expectations of being the perfect parent, we’re under almost constant pressure. Saunas have been shown to help you relax. Often people spend their time here meditating and reflecting.
Some studies have even shown that saunas can be preventative for mental health conditions and assist in treating others. For example, one study found a reduced risk of developing psychotic disorders and that they may help improve the symptoms typically associated with depression.
Physical Health Benefits of Saunas
According to one study, infrared saunas can significantly reduce the pain levels of those suffering from fibromyalgia when combined with things like aquatic therapy.
Often, people just beginning or increasing a workout use infrared saunas to help improve muscle pain and fatigue.
Those who suffer from joint pain find relief after beginning to use an infrared sauna. There are many accounts of those who deal with chronic pain, seeing improvement in their symptoms after regularly spending time in a sauna.
Another study found that infrared sauna use can improve symptoms of those with congestive heart failure.
It’s also thought to be incredibly good for your skin. So those looking to improve that youthful glow may want to consider giving an infrared sauna a try.
Before Your First Session in an Infrared Sauna
As with any health regime, you should know a few things before jumping in. They advise against using a sauna if you’ve been drinking. Alcohol impairs your judgment, and because you’re sitting in a sweltering room, you need to be clear-headed to ensure you don’t endanger yourself.
It’s also not a clever idea to go if you are sick. These days you have to worry about spreading Covid, so you shouldn’t go anywhere public if you have a fever. For those considering having a sauna in their home, it’s still best to wait until you are well.
Always consult your doctor before doing anything that can impact your health. There are some conditions that a sauna can exacerbate.
Beginners can use infrared saunas three to four times per week. Once you know how your body will handle it, you can increase your time, and often people use them daily. Just make sure you stay hydrated and aware of its impacts on your health.