The benefits of the sauna are numerous and well documented by scientific research, it is also an ancient practice (about 4000 years ago, invented by the Finns). From eliminating toxins to improving the immune system and lowering blood pressure, the sauna offers a variety of health benefits that make it a highly recommended practice.
The benefits of the sauna are not limited to a single technique (Finnish or Turkish sauna) quite expensive and often only practicable in gyms, but can be enjoyed both in an infrared sauna or in infrared sauna blankets (the most economical of all saunas).
Some studies even show that regular sauna use can increase the life expectancy of users. In this article, we will talk about infrared saunas and sauna blankets, both of which have the same benefits as conventional saunas.
More and more celebrities are joining the trend of using infrared saunas to improve their well-being. And it is that these saunas, unlike traditional ones, use light to create heat in the body, which results in several health benefits. When entering an infrared sauna, the first thing you will notice is that it is not as hot as a traditional dry sauna, which varies in temperature between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius and warms the air around you to warm your body (which can cause a feeling of suffocation depending on the person).
Infrared saunas have an average temperature of 50 to 80 degrees Celsius and you can extend the sessions up to 50 minutes (and not the 10 or 15 minutes that one can endure in a conventional sauna), which will maximize the benefits of the sauna.
Infrared Sauna Blanket
In recent years, the infrared sauna blanket has become increasingly popular as a convenient and portable way to experience the benefits of the Finnish or infrared sauna. Also known as a red light sauna blanket or portable sauna blanket, these blankets use infrared light technology to heat the body from the inside out, providing similar benefits to a traditional sauna in a compact, portable package.
The biggest benefit compared to a conventional infrared sauna is that you don't need any space, as they fold up easily and are portable. In addition, you can do the sessions while you are watching television, reading, using your mobile (although we do not recommend it, as it is better to take these sessions as a time of relaxation and inner peace).
How does an infrared sauna work?
An infrared sauna works by emitting infrared radiation that penetrates the body, generating heat and raising body temperature, producing a number of health benefits.
This type of sauna requires the construction of a room like in a Finnish sauna, inside it, the infrared light panels will be included that will have the effect of heating you up.
If you want to know more about how an infrared sauna works you can read this article of ours.
How does an infrared sauna blanket work?
Infrared sauna blankets use infrared radiation to produce heat directly and deeply into the body. The principle is the same as that of an infrared sauna, but instead of having to install a room that takes up space at home, it is simply a blanket, where you sit inside and start to sweat.
Infrared radiation in this type of sauna is distributed throughout the body (unlike in a conventional infrared sauna) it penetrates the skin and reaches the deepest muscle layers, causing vasodilation that increases blood circulation and helps to release toxins accumulated in the body. Furthermore, infrared radiation can also activate the production of collagen and elastin, which can improve the appearance of the skin and reduce the signs of aging. All of this makes it a very effective tool for detoxification, stress relief, weight loss, and muscle recovery.
If you want to know more about how an infrared sauna blanket works you can read this article of ours.
What is the difference between an infrared sauna, a sauna blanket and a Finnish sauna?
Unlike Finnish saunas, infrared saunas do not heat the air, but act directly on the body, making them more efficient in eliminating toxins, reducing muscle and joint pain, improving blood circulation and eliminating stress. In addition, its use is more comfortable, safe and cheap, since the temperatures are lower and no water vapors are generated, which makes them ideal for people with respiratory problems.
In addition to this, sauna blankets are different from conventional infrared saunas in several aspects. In the latter, you need to be inside the room and the light-heat does not receive it throughout the body. In contrast, in a sauna blanket, the infrared energy is distributed more evenly. This provides a softer, less suffocating experience, as well as a greater range of tissue penetration and therefore better health benefits.
We can also talk about the portability of sauna blankets, you can take them wherever you go, as they generally use a bag and don't usually weigh much. The fact that it is a portable sauna helps you to use it while you are watching Netflix.
Finally, the issue of electricity consumption is an important part. As a general rule, Finnish saunas usually consume about 5000 W, an infrared sauna about 3000 W, and a sauna blanket about 600 W. There is a clear difference in this aspect, in fact our sauna blanket consumes about 0.€13 per hour of use.
There are various types of infrared sauna therapy based on their infrared radiation
Near Infrared (NIR) Therapy
When broken down by region, near-infrared has a wavelength range that is closest to the red end of the visible light spectrum, with wavelengths measuring from about 750 nanometers (nm) to around 3000 nm, which is the same as 0.7 5 to 3 microns (µm).
This therapy uses sources in the visible and near-infrared spectrum of light to regenerate tissue, improve wound healing and circulation, and reduce pain and inflammation. It can penetrate up to 5mm under the skin (more than far infrared rays). The lower the light spectrum (closer to 700 nm), the greater the penetration.
Medium infrared therapy (MIR - Mid Infrared)
Wavelengths measuring approximately 3 to 5 microns (µm).
Far Infrared (FIR) Therapy
The Far Infrared (FIR) region is closer to microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum. This region has a wavelength range of about 5000 nm (5 microns - µm) to 1000 microns (µm).
Far infrared is mainly absorbed by the water in our body and for that reason it penetrates only 0.1 mm under the skin, the benefits of this therapy are the improvement of sleep quality, stress reduction, speed in muscle recovery and also reduce body pain.
Full Spectrum Infrared Therapy
This type of infrared therapy incorporates all ranges of infrared wavelengths.
This type of therapy adds colored lights to an infrared sauna, with the idea that certain colors elicit different responses and benefits to the body.
Benefits of the infrared sauna
As we've explained before, there are so many sauna benefits, and infrared saunas and sauna blankets offer the same variety of health benefits.
The most incredible thing of all is that all these benefits are scientifically validated. Next, we will delve into the different benefits that this heat therapy offers.
1 Relaxation and stress reduction
One study examined people with mild depression who were treated for 15 minutes once a day for five days in a far-infrared sauna and then told to lie in bed for 30 minutes. Over four weeks, they reported fewer physical complaints (such as discomfort and pain that are considered mentally distressing) and more relaxation. The authors theorized that heat therapy is sedative (increasing relaxation) and may have a positive effect on the nervous system.
Another study, published in September 2020 in a Korean Journal of Medicine, concluded that the use of infrared sauna among 38 people improved their quality of life. In the study, participants sat in an infrared sauna for 15 minutes and rested in room-temperature air for 30 minutes, twice a day for four consecutive days. After the four days, those who took infrared saunas reported less pain and discomfort, as well as less anxiety and depression.
An infrared sauna is a warm, quiet space with no distractions, which could also be a factor in its therapeutic benefits, in addition to infrared exposure, triggering a relaxation response to reduce stress.
In this article we talk about how the infrared sauna blanket can help with stress (reducing cortisol levels and improving sleep quality (stimulating melatonin production).
2 Getting to sleep
The infrared sauna can be a useful tool to improve the quality of sleep. While we sleep, our bodies work to process information, reduce stress levels, and heal and repair important parts of our health. With the help of the infrared sauna, we can facilitate this process.
The infrared sauna helps our body regulate temperature and promotes a parasympathetic state, allowing the body to rest and relax more effectively. Also, after a sauna session, our body cools down and sends signals to the brain, such as the production of more melatonin, which helps to fall asleep faster.
In addition, the infrared sauna provides a high-quality relaxation space that can improve sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster. By removing distractions like television and mobile phone screens, we are providing the body with a space to heal and the brain with a place to relax and enter a meditative state. Although we understand that if you use our sauna blanket, you can get distracted more easily, since you don't need to enter the sauna room, just lie on the blanket, try to avoid it!
A studyshows that sauna users could reduce the time they fell asleep!
In summary, the infrared sauna can be a valuable tool for those looking to fall asleep and increase their ability to relax and fall asleep faster.
3 Benefits for the skin
The penetrating and deep heat causes the release of toxins through sweat, cleansing the liver and kidneys and, in turn, showing off radiant skin. Infrared light multiplies the benefits received during the sauna by using invisible wavelengths of light to stimulate many parts of the body, from the lymphatic system to the cardiac system. In particular, infrared light has anti-aging and collagen-boosting properties, making it an ideal method for achieving beautiful, radiant skin.
Dirt, dust, and excess sebum (that is, the oil produced naturally by the body's pores) accumulate on the skin throughout the day, especially in areas with lower air quality, such as polluted cities, or during certain professions, such as construction. These particles can clog the pores in the body, resulting in acne and noticeably clogged pores.
There are many benefits of sweating, including cleaning the pores and helping the body eliminate toxins or excess oil (thus reducing acne). Infrared light from a sauna can also be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema, as it can decrease skin inflammation. Using the sauna is a great alternative to harsh cosmetic treatments like facials, which can be painful and damage the skin if not done correctly. Infrared treatments, unlike prescription drugs with steroids, retinol or antibiotics for skin problems, are also non-addictive and do not thin or damage the skin or liver.
4 Improving the cardiovascular system
The infrared sauna can improve the health of the cardiovascular system in several ways. An analysis of nine studies published in November 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology, concluded that taking an infrared sauna for 15 minutes five times a week for two to four weeks improved certain cardiac biomarkers and short-term measures of cardiac function.
Another study, published in August 2018 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, explains the potential connection between saunas and heart health. The authors concluded that taking a sauna, including the use of an infrared sauna, can lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, reduce inflammation, and calm the nervous system, among other changes. In addition, the heart's reaction to the sauna can also be similar to walking, which strengthens the heart and is recommended for people with heart failure.
In summary, the infrared sauna can help improve the health of the cardiovascular system and can be especially beneficial for people with heart conditions (in these cases it is always better to discuss it with your doctor).
5 Reducing pain and inflammation
Infrared sauna can also be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. Some research has suggested that people with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, may benefit from infrared sauna therapy, which has been found to reduce pain and stiffness. A study published in Clinical Rheumatology concluded that people with arthritis who used infrared therapy eight times in a four-week period had less pain, stiffness, and short-term fatigue.
In addition, another study in people with chronic pain disorders using infrared therapy found that sauna use for eight weeks helped people with chronic tension headaches reduce headache intensity by 44%. The theory is that part of the effect could come from the relaxation response, which can decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Another trial with 46 participants found that people with a chronic pain disorder had improvements in mood and were more likely to return to work after using the sauna.
In conclusion, the infrared sauna can help relieve pain and inflammation, especially in people with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. In addition, sauna therapy can also help improve mood and reduce chronic body pain (or sports injuries).
6 Detoxify your body “Detox”
The infrared sauna can help us release toxins accumulated in our body. We are exposed to many different types of toxins in our daily lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe to the medicines we take. Our body tends to store these toxins in fatty tissues. These toxins stored in our body for long periods of time make us more susceptible to different diseases.
Participating in additional infrared sauna sessions can help our body to release these toxins. While our liver and kidneys are responsible for natural detoxification, the amount of toxins we are exposed to can place excessive workload on these organs. Engaging in additional detoxification activities can help support the function of these organs by reducing the toxic load they have received.
In addition to our internal organs helping us detoxify from toxins, our skin can also help. The skin is one of the largest channels for releasing toxins in our body, and it does so through sweat. While most of our sweat is simply water and salt, it has also been shown to include a variety of toxins when released.
Sweat-based therapies have been used for hundreds of years. Many ancient civilizations have reaped the benefits of heat detoxification, showing that there is plenty of history and experience to back up these claims. While sweating can be beneficial on its own, it may not provide all of the added detoxification benefits that infrared saunas can offer.
Sweating has many benefits, but these benefits can be increased dramatically if done using infrared light. In fact, studies have shown that 15-20% of sweat induced by infrared light is made up of a variety of toxins and heavy metals. These studies support the claim that infrared saunas provide additional detoxification benefits that conventional saunas simply cannot.
7 Strengthening the immune system
Before going into detail about the benefits of infrared sauna in strengthening the immune system, it is important to understand what weakens the immune system. Excess stress, lack of exercise, malnutrition and lack of sleep can negatively affect the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to disease.
Fortunately, using an infrared sauna can help strengthen the immune system and improve overall health. Some of the benefits that can contribute to this end include:
1 Increased production of white blood cells
The infrared sauna generates heat that stimulates energy production at the cellular level, which increases the production of white blood cells. These cells are part of the immune system and act as the first line of defense when an infection attacks the body. Increased production of white blood cells can help the body fight disease more effectively.
2 Stimulation of the immune system
The idea that increased body temperature stimulates the immune system response is not new. Increases in temperature help the body fight infection by allowing certain immune cells to work more efficiently. Exposure to heat can also enhance the ability of these cells to kill cells infected by viruses or other conditions.
3 Elimination of impurities
Efficient elimination of toxins from the body is one of the best ways to stay healthy and support the immune system. A typical 20-minute session in an infrared sauna allows the body to flush out these impurities from the inside out, meaning the immune system has less to fight.
Using an infrared sauna can strengthen the immune system in several ways. Benefits include increased production of white blood cells, stimulation of the immune system, and removal of impurities from the body.
8 Weight Loss
When we sweat, we release water from our bodies, which contributes to losing water weight. However, the act of sweating also burns calories. As many of us know, one of the best things we can do to lose weight is burn calories. By using an infrared sauna, you can burn calories and relax at the same time.
A study showed that the average person will lose four percent of their body fat over four months with regular use of an infrared sauna (45 minutes a day, three days a week).
The good thing about using an infrared sauna for weight loss is that it affects many areas of your body, which work together to help you lose weight. Some of the effects are even ones you can't experience with diet and exercise alone, making it a great option to add to your existing healthy habits.
One of the most significant ways an infrared sauna can help boost your weight loss is by raising your heart rate. A 2017 study found that sauna use can cause your heart rate to rise and then stay that way for up to thirty minutes after you leave. This heart reaction is similar to moderate intensity cardio, and an elevated heart rate can lead to weight loss.
Stress is one of the main reasons why we cannot lose weight. However, infrared saunas have proven that they are here to change that. If you find it relaxing to sit in a warm room a few times, it can reduce stress levels. When you have less stress, your body can focus less on simply surviving and more on losing excess weight. This physical reaction makes infrared saunas an easy, comfortable, and relaxing way to lose weight.
One of the physical obstacles to weight loss is a slower metabolism. Our metabolism is part of a larger system known as the endocrine system. This system is made up of glands and helps regulate your metabolism and other parts of the body. When the endocrine system is not working properly, it causes your metabolism to slow down, which will cause you to retain extra weight. Infrared saunas can penetrate your skin to directly reach the endocrine system. This stimulation makes your endocrine system more efficient, speeding up your metabolism and helping you lose that stubborn weight.
9 Improving sports performance
Improving sports performance is an important topic for athletes seeking to improve their physical capacity and perform better in competitions. One way to achieve this is through the infrared sauna.
Heat tolerance is a benefit of sauna sessions and can be increased by doing vigorous exercise in the heat. However, this can be dangerous when the temperature and humidity levels are very high. Fortunately, a new way to passively acclimatize has been found: the use of the sauna after training.
Sauna exposure can significantly improve endurance in athletes. European cross-country ski coaches, professional cyclists, and other endurance athletes often have their athletes use the sauna after training to help with recovery and sweating ability. In fact, the sauna after running also provides many benefits (there are several studies on runners).
A very interesting topic is that researchers have discovered that sauna exposure can increase the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a natural hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells and increases blood volume.
Exposure to the sauna gradually increases our body's core temperature, which triggers sweating to prevent us from cooking ourselves. Although sweating in a sauna doesn't make us very cold, it does have a side effect. Most of the fluid in sweat comes from blood plasma, and the more we sweat, the more dehydrated and difficult to pump our blood becomes. This decreases oxygen tension in the kidneys, which triggers the release of EPO, which increases red blood cell production and increases blood volume.
Although synthetic EPO has been used medically to treat serious conditions such as anemia, increasing our body's natural production of EPO is completely safe. Most athletes do this during their workouts, thanks to the dehydration that naturally occurs during exercise. To maximize the benefits of sauna exposure, it is important to have proper protocol and be sure to consult a doctor before using it, especially if you are taking medications that reduce blood flow through your kidneys, or if you have high blood pressure, kidney problems, or other serious health problems.
In summary, the infrared sauna and infrared sauna blanket are a natural and safe way to increase the production of EPO in the body, which in turn increases blood volume and endurance capacity. It is a tool that can be useful for any endurance athlete looking to improve their performance.
10 Accelerates muscle recovery
The infrared sauna penetrates stressed muscle tissues during strength training, providing a number of heat-related health benefits. For example, vasodilation of the capillaries improves blood circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach muscle tissue, while also improving the body's ability to eliminate toxins.
One of the main "toxins" produced during strength training is lactic acid. If excess lactic acid is not reduced, sore muscles result, which can affect athletic performance. Increasing blood flow to the muscles decreases the likelihood of muscle pain.
Infrared therapy also acts as a pain reliever for muscle tissue, which is beneficial in cases of muscle soreness after intense workouts. Furthermore, this therapy also offers a pain relief option that does not involve taking medication.
Other benefits include improved sleep quality. Adequate sleep helps muscle recovery.
Several studies have investigated how infrared heat affects muscle tissue, one of which was published in 2015. In this study, ten men participated in 30-minute sauna sessions after strength or resistance training. For some, a far infrared sauna was used, while for others, a traditional Finnish sauna was used. The researchers found that those who used the infrared sauna had better neuromuscular recovery and also reported a more comfortable and relaxing experience.
Who should not use the infrared sauna?
The infrared sauna is not suitable for everyone, just like any other treatment method. That is why it is always recommended that users speak to their doctor first. This is even more important if they have high blood pressure or heart related problems.
Users should definitely not participate in a sauna session if they have been drinking. The reason for this is because alcohol increases the risk of dehydration. Since the infrared sauna heats the body, this risk is heightened when alcohol is added to the equation.
If you have any of the following conditions, you should not use an infrared sauna:
- Skin diseases, burns or redness
- Sensitivity to temperature
- Heart disease or ailments
- Broken Bones
- You just had an operation
- Nausea, headache or other symptoms
- You suffer from abnormal blood pressure
- You are pregnant or lactating
- Cancer or other malignant diseases
- Do you have any metal or other type of implant in your body
What to drink and eat before an infrared sauna session?
Properly preparing your body before the sauna and making sure it recovers well afterward are crucial steps in getting the benefits you'll receive and how you'll feel after the session.
Take the following steps to increase the benefits of the sauna:
Be careful about drinking too much caffeine before the sauna
It's often what we need to get up on weekdays and a must drink in the morning for many of us. If your schedule only allows for the sauna in the morning, or if that's your preferred time of day for a session, we recommend being cautious and not overdoing the caffeine. Caffeine and sauna are known to increase your heart rate, so the combination can be a bit too intense and prevent you from really enjoying your time in the sauna.
If you can't do without caffeine, try replacing a cup of coffee with a cup of green or black tea instead. Green tea and black tea have less than 100 milligrams of caffeine compared to 95 to 200 milligrams in coffee.
What to eat before a sauna session
As a general rule of thumb, for before and after the sauna, we like foods that are low in processed sugar, high in fiber, and with healthy fats.
Before the sauna, you want to eat something that will give you an energy boost without making you feel full. For that reason, you can eat a piece of fruit or a smoothie.
The fruit has a high concentration of vitamins and high water content, both of which are beneficial for the body before entering the sauna. Fruits like pineapple, peach, and grapefruit are over 90 percent water by volume, so they give you that much-needed boost of energy along with hydration.
After the sauna, we feel clean and refreshed, and we tend to want healthy and nutritious food. Quinoa is a great option, as it is high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, antioxidants, and vitamin E. Avocado can also be an interesting option (rich in healthy fats).
When you sweat in the sauna, your body can lose 500 grams, so it's important to make sure you're compensating for lost water and electrolytes.
Before the sauna, we recommend drinking 1-2 glasses of water to prepare your body for the next sweat session. After the sauna, you'll want to keep drinking water, but you'll also want to replenish those lost key minerals and electrolytes like magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium. Each of these elements is crucial to balance internal fluid levels.
For athletes, it may be advisable not to hydrate before each session, as long as accustoms the body to dehydration and thus increase their performance during competitions. Of course, this must be done weeks before the competition, so that the body has time to get used to it.
Why is the infrared sauna blanket the best option for saunas?
The sauna is an ancient practice that has been shown to have multiple benefits for physical and mental health. As we have explained in this article, it is a form of relaxation and detoxification of the body through sweat, which helps to eliminate toxins and improve blood circulation. The infrared sauna is a modern variant of the traditional sauna that uses infrared radiation to heat the body, instead of hot air. This type of sauna also offers similar benefits.
The infrared sauna blanket is a portable variant of the infrared sauna. This blanket uses the same technology as the infrared sauna, but is cheaper, portable, and consumes less electricity. The infrared sauna blanket offers the same benefits as the traditional infrared sauna, but with the advantage of being able to use it anywhere and at any time. In addition, the infrared sauna blanket is very easy to use, you simply have to place yourself inside the blanket and let the infrared heat your body.
In summary, both the traditional sauna and the infrared sauna and infrared sauna blanket offer multiple benefits for physical and mental health. Each has its own advantages, so it is important to choose the one that best suits your needs and lifestyle.