Infrared saunas are popping up everywhere… from your gym to your favorite spa. You can even have one installed right at home! But what exactly is an infrared sauna and why would you want to use one?
Well, many people find that infrared saunas are much more comfortable than traditional saunas because the air around them stays cooler and dry… rather than hot and heavy.
Not only that, but infrared saunas provide a variety of potential health and beauty benefits – from weight loss and better skin to improved immunity and heart health.
Here’s everything you need to know about infrared saunas so you can decide if this treatment is right for you!
What is an Infrared Sauna?
An infrared sauna is a sauna that heats the body itself, rather than the air around you. Sometimes, infrared saunas are called infrared heat therapy rooms. These rooms have heating elements that reflect in the form of infrared light, which is sent to the body directly.
In an infrared sauna, most of the heat heats your body itself. This type of sauna produces radiant heat that penetrates the skin much more deeply than heat from a traditional sauna.
Since the air around you isn’t heated, many people find an infrared sauna much more enjoyable than a traditional wet or dry sauna, mainly because they’re so much cooler. In fact, the air in an infrared sauna is usually around 110° to 140° F, while a traditional sauna often reaches 200° F.
Different Types of Infrared Saunas:
There are three types of infrared saunas and they each correspond to different wavelengths. Each one offers a different level of penetration and provides different benefits. Here’s how they compare:
- Near-Infrared (NIR): Near-infrared saunas combine light and heat therapy, sometimes called phototherapy. NIR is absorbed just below the skin’s surface and promotes immune function and healing.
- Mid-Infrared (MIR): Mid-infrared has a slightly longer wavelength than NIR, so it penetrates a bit deeper into the body’s tissues. It is beneficial for improving the circulation of blood and oxygen, promoting muscle relaxation, and healing injuries to muscles and tissues.
- Far-Infrared (FIR): Far-infrared is the longest wavelength of all three. It is beneficial for cardiovascular health, boosting metabolism, and supporting detoxification.
What Exactly is Full Spectrum
A full spectrum infrared sauna uses all three different wavelengths, providing the benefits of near, mid, and far-infrared in the same treatment. If you’re curious about what that means, basically infrared light is part of something called the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
“Infra” means after and “red” is the color. So, infrared simply means after red. The terms far, mid, and near simply indicate the distance that each wavelength is from red on the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
Not all saunas offer full-spectrum capabilities. In fact, far infrared saunas are probably the most common, which means they only provide far-infrared wavelengths and benefits. FIR is the wavelength that generates the heat in an infrared sauna.
MIR and NIR each have their own benefits, but on their own, they can’t create enough heat to penetrate the skin.
So, when you’re choosing your sauna experience, you’ll get the most benefit from a full spectrum sauna that provides all three wavelengths.
Benefits of Using Infrared Sauna
Many people don’t realize how important it is to sweat regularly. Sweating is one of the ways our bodies remove toxins. Toxins are flushed out through the skin very effectively when you sweat, but not so much if you don’t.
Many of us spend most of our time sitting indoors in a climate-controlled environment. This causes a buildup of toxins in the skin and makes it nearly impossible for the body to remove them. Infrared saunas counteract this effect by promoting sweating to help the body detoxify from the inside out.
Here’s a look at the key potential benefits associated with each infrared sauna wavelength:
- Benefits of Near Infrared: Improved skin health, wound healing, tissue growth, improved immune health, pain relief, skin cell regeneration, and reduced inflammation
- Benefits of Mid Infrared: Improved circulation, muscle and joint pain relief, weight loss
- Benefits of Far Infrared: Relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, reduced blood pressure, alleviate overall body stress, boost energy, and reduce chronic pain and inflammation
Doctors at Rahav Wellness, who offer functional medicine services in NYC, recommend choosing an infrared sauna that combines all three spectrums. That way, all three wavelengths can work together to provide a host of benefits in one treatment.
The combined potential benefits of a full spectrum sauna include:
- Better Skin
- Cellulite Reduction
- Reduced Blood Pressure and Improved Heart Health
- Detoxification of Heavy Metals and Chemicals
- Improved Organ Function
- Stimulates Metabolism and Weight Loss
- Stress Relief
- Relief of Chronic Health Conditions, Including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Chronic Respiratory Infections
- Improved Muscle and Joint Recovery After Exercise
- Chronic Pain and Inflammation Relief
How to Prepare for an Infrared Sauna Session
Taking a few simple steps to prepare for your infrared sauna session will help you get the most out of your treatment. It will also help to ensure that you walk away feeling your absolute best.
- Drink lots of water before your session. Proper hydration is key for avoiding any feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Wear loose, breathable clothing or a bathing suit. You will sweat during the treatment, so you may want to bring an extra set of clothes for the ride home, too.
- Shower before you go, especially if you’ll be using a shared sauna.
- Start with a lower temperature setting and a shorter session, especially if it’s your first time. As you become more comfortable with the treatments, you can gradually increase the time and temperature.
- Move slowly during the treatment and as you’re leaving the sauna to prevent lightheadedness.
Keep in mind that you will lose water through sweating during your session. It’s important to rehydrate after your treatment so that your body can recover those lost fluids. Following your session with another shower is also beneficial for removing sweat and toxins from the skin’s surface.
If you’re ready to give an infrared sauna a try, you can usually find them at your local gym, health club, spa, or alternative wellness center. You can also purchase one for home use. In addition to the amazing health and beauty benefits, infrared saunas are an amazing way to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic day or after an intense workout.
Although infrared saunas are considered safe for most people, anyone who is pregnant, has a chronic health condition, or takes medication should talk to their doctor before receiving treatment.