Originating from the Scandinavian world, people have been practicing sauna therapy for centuries. It has now become one of the most renowned practices for improving physical health as well as mental health. With time and technology, advancements have been made to the traditional sauna and one of the prime examples is the infrared sauna.
While the primary goal of both is the same, infrared saunas are quite different from traditional saunas. While traditional saunas use steam to heat up the room, infrared saunas use infrared rays, a region of the electromagnetic spectrum. These penetrate through the body and heat up your body directly by raising the body temperature without warming the outside air. These saunas are quickly gaining recognition in the medical world due to their innumerable benefits. However, with benefits, there are also some downsides. Below we have outlined the pros and cons of the Infrared sauna.
Pros and Cons of Infrared Sauna
Pros of Infrared Sauna
1. Improved sleep
Numerous studies have proved that regular use of infrared sauna greatly enhances your sleep. This is due to the fact that the penetration of infrared rays deep into your cells enables your body to produce greater amounts of melatonin, the sleep hormone. In addition to this, the sauna also soothes your muscles through better blood circulation which, as a result, improves the quality of sleep. Hence, it is ideal for people who have irregular sleep patterns or suffer from insomnia.
2. Reduced Depression
Infrared saunas are not only good for physical health but also play an essential role in mental wellness. According to mental health experts, one of the major benefits of an infrared sauna is that it greatly reduces depression. A study carried out by Dr. Jeffrey Lieb has shown that a single sauna session can reduce depression to half.
The major reason behind this positive impact on mental is the various biochemical changes that occur in the body due to the infrared rays. These are strong which puts the body under stress and to cope with that the body produces euphoric hormones. These are very uplifting for your mood and make you feel great on an emotional level. Thus, if you are going through a hard time, use an infrared sauna to unwind yourself and melt away your worries.
3. Boost Immune System
One of the greatest advantages of infrared saunas is that it boosts the immune system. Only 15-20 minutes in the infrared sauna will cause the body to produce a great number of white blood cells. White blood cells produce antibodies that help fight off viruses. Thus, regular use of infrared sauna keeps the body healthy and equipped with antibodies to fight off diseases effectively.
4. Pain Relief
Another very notable benefit of an infrared sauna is that they relieve muscle pain. With the infrared rays penetrating the body, the heat produced helps soothe muscles. This increases the blood flow and reduces inflammation and muscle pains caused by diseases such as arthritis and Lyme disease. In addition to this infrared saunas have also been found to be helpful for people suffering from chronic and regional pain.
5. Clearer Skin
Apart from medical benefits, infrared saunas also help in skin rejuvenation. The heat from the saunas causes profuse sweating. The sweating detoxifies your blood as harmful toxins including phthalates (found on fast food), BPA (found on many household items), toxins found on plastic, and nicotine are washed out from the bloodstream and exit the body with sweat. Thus, this reduces the risk of acne and provides a much refresher skin.
6. Lower Heat
Some people find high temperatures uncomfortable and are unable to tolerate the heat. However, with infrared saunas, they can still enjoy the pleasures of the sauna. This is because infrared saunas operate at fairly low temperatures. The heat intensity of infrared rays is not very high. The temperature inside an infrared sauna usually ranges between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much less compared to traditional saunas.
Cons of Infrared Sauna
1. Dry Heat
The most notable con of infrared sauna is that heat produced through this sauna is dry as it uses infrared rays instead of steam. Compared to the humid environment in traditional saunas, the dry heat produced by infrared saunas increases the risk of dehydration and can cause dizziness. In addition to this, the dry heat can also cause some discomfort among certain people when used for long periods of time.
2. Do not mix well with alcohol and certain medications
What most people do not know about infrared saunas is that it is not good for people who have alcohol in their bloodstream or are using certain medications. This greatly reduces the ability of the body to sweat profusely and thus, increases the risk of overheating. Overheating can be really dangerous as it can result in fainting spells in dehydration.
Therefore, avoid saunas after drinking alcohol and if you are on certain medications, always consult your physician before using the infrared sauna.
3. Health Issues
Infrared saunas lower blood pressure. While this may be beneficial for some, it can prove to be detrimental for others, especially those who suffer from hypotension and cardiovascular diseases. These conditions can be worsened by the dry heat and patients may suffer from dizziness, dehydration, headaches, or even loss of consciousness. Other negatives also include pain in the leg and irritation in the air passages.
Thus, it is not necessary that infrared saunas are good for all medical conditions. For some, especially those who have arthritis and Lyme disease, it can do wonders and for others, it can prove to have adverse effects. It is always recommended that you always consult your doctor before using the sauna. A recent study has shown the continued use of a sauna for elongated periods can adversely affect the mobility and production of sperms in males. Hence, even if you are perfectly healthy, it is advised not to spend more than 30 minutes in the sauna.
4. Not good for Pregnant Women
Saunas should be avoided during pregnancy as the extreme heat is not good for the baby in its development stages. Unlike the traditional saunas which heat up the outside air, infrared rays penetrate directly into the body. Thus, the baby is more exposed to the heat and these rays seriously damage its spinal cord and brain.
5. Dry Skin
While saunas are good for cleansing your skin, for some people they can cause extreme skin dryness. Thus, remember to moisturize your skin before and after the sauna to protect your skin and ensure it remains fresh and beautiful.
Above we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of an infrared sauna. Based on these, it is you who will decide if infrared saunas are suitable for you or not. While they have many benefits including better mental health, improved sleep, and a stronger immune system, these saunas are not suitable for everyone due to their infrared radiation. They can do more harm than good for people who are pregnant or are suffering from cardiovascular health issues. Nonetheless, even if you are in good health, remember to keep your session as short as possible to gain the maximum benefits and avoid any harm.
Hi People! My name is Monica Khemsurov, and I am the founder of SaunaSavant. I am Finnish, a professional swimmer, and a lifelong sauna & spa enthusiast. In this blog, I will share my insights, suggestions, and recommendations on everything related to saunas and indoor living. Please let me know (through the contact box) if you have any feedback. Cheers!