A long, relaxing session in the sauna can be just what the doctor ordered for your tired muscles and aching joints – but there’s an emerging type of sauna on the horizon leaving its conventional counterpart in the dust when it comes to health benefits. Infrared saunas are soaring in popularity at the moment, and for good reason. Here are 3 reasons to add this relaxing treatment to your self-care checklist.
What is an infrared sauna?
Infrared saunas rely on infrared lamps – these are lamps which use electromagnetic radiation to directly heat the body. For comparison, your typical sauna simply warms the air surrounding you. Infrared saunas usually keep a lower temperature to their traditional counterpart, around 50 degrees Celsius. But, despite their lower temperature, the panels in these saunas actually warm your body before warming the air as the heat more easily reaches your body. Some companies have claimed that 80% of the heat goes straight to your body in an infrared sauna, making it a more convenient, quicker experience at a more tolerable temperature than that of your conventional sauna.
Infrared saunas are believed to provide a host of benefits, including the following:
- May improve sleep
- May reduce stress
- May improve lymphatic flow
- May reduce blood pressure
- May promote weight loss
- May improve skin health
Those are some impressive health boosts, but there are a few promising benefits in particular we're going to be unpacking. Take a look at our top 3 reasons to get behind infrared saunas.
Improves sleep quality
Not getting your 7-8 hours a night? Many of us are struggling to get to sleep – and stay asleep. If you struggle with sleep apnoea or insomnia, infrared saunas could be worth a try. Our bodies generally undergo a small dip in temperature prior to sleeping, and when we heat up in these infrared saunas, our bodies are then forced to cool down. This may help prepare the body for sleep, along with promoting melatonin production – this is the “sleep hormone” known for regulating our sleeping cycles and preventing some of those disruptive symptoms that keep us up all night.
One small study found that infrared saunas may even improve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, which also includes sleep issues, with many sufferers waking up in the middle of the night or just a little too early in the morning. Here are a few of the other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome which may improve with frequent infrared sauna usage:
- Memory issues
- Muscle and joint pain
- Non-restful sleep
Boosts skin health
While the research remains incomplete, some small studies suggest that infrared saunas may boost our circulation. Proper circulation helps keep our lymphatic system working properly to clear out toxins and waste – the result is less inflammation of the skin and fewer skin issues. Trapped fluids and toxins that result from poor circulation and lymphatic flow can promote some of these common skin woes:
- Premature wrinkles
Healthy circulation also plays a role in transporting essential nutrients to the skin to help form and maintain collagen, which in turn strengthens the skin barrier and improves its overall health and hydration. The result? Clearer, smoother skin.
Relieves joint and muscle pain
Another impressive health benefit infrared saunas are purported to boast include the relieving effects on muscle and joint pain. One small study found that these saunas boost our post-exercise and strength-training muscle recovery, reducing the chance of waking up with those agonising pains in the morning.
Those suffering from arthritis may particularly benefit from taking infrared saunas, with a study indicating that it provided short-term pain relief, stiffness reduction and may even show some promising long-term pain improvements.
Precautions for infrared saunas
- It’s best to avoid the sauna if you’re unwell – especially if you have a high temperature.
- Avoid the sauna if you’ve been drinking alcohol recently.
- Take caution when standing up, it’s safest to slowly get up in case of light-headedness.
- Drink water after going to the sauna – it’s important to stay hydrated.
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