Have you heard about infrared saunas and want to learn more about them? Perhaps you’re already familiar with these products, and you want to know if they’re worthwhile.
Consider this your guide to infrared saunas. We put in the research to answer all the frequently asked questions about these products.
You’ll learn how they work and what separates them from traditional saunas. Discover whether research supports this form of home therapy as beneficial for your health.
We share health benefits, usage, and techniques to get the most from each session. Lastly, if you decide you can’t wait to own one for yourself, we can assist you. Review our top three trusted brands to choose an infrared sauna for yourself.
Table of Contents
An infrared sauna is one that harnesses the power of infrared radiation. The heat is generated through infrared heaters or lights.
The word radiation may sound somewhat frightening—but bear with us.
Infrared radiation falls towards the end of the electromagnetic spectrum. That’s the method by which electromagnetic waves are classified.
We use and are subjected to electromagnetic waves throughout our lives. Some are visible to us, like the lights we use throughout our homes.
All the others are invisible: x-rays, microwaves, radio waves, UV waves, and gamma waves. Infrared waves fall into the invisible category.
Despite the fact that we can’t see all of these waves, they can still affect us. That’s why we use sunscreen and why pregnant women are discouraged from getting x-rays.
What Are Infrared Waves?
Infrared waves are felt as a sensation of warmth. There are plenty of ways we can experience infrared heat. The warmth of a welcoming fire, a scalding-hot sidewalk beneath our feet, or a switched-on radiator all generates infrared waves.
These waves are put to work in a variety of gadgets. Those cameras that detect body heat which you’ve likely seen in various action films are infrared models.
Cups that change color or reveal a picture when heated are another example. Basically, anything that puts out heat—whether a little or a lot—can be quantified as infrared.
On that note, there are three levels of infrared radiation. They’re classed by where they fall on the spectrum:
Near-infrared light consists of waves that are close to the visible end of the spectrum. You’re unlikely to feel much heat—for instance, from your TV remote control.
On the other hand, the far-infrared light waves are measurably hot. Consider the examples we mentioned earlier (radiator, fire, etc).
Traditional vs. Infrared Saunas
Some of you are probably confused by this point. If any hot item produces infrared waves, aren’t all saunas technically infrared models?
The answer is yes—but there are a couple of essential differences. These are the features that separate traditional from infrared saunas:
A heated stove (wood-burning or electrical) is how traditional saunas are heated. Many contain super-heated rocks to sustain the environment.
Infrared saunas use specialized lights or heaters that produce infrared light. Most produce radiation at either end of the extreme: near-infrared or far-infrared.
Traditional saunas fall into two categories: wet or dry.
Wet saunas tend to have lower temperatures, but higher humidity (up to 100 percent).
They’re more similar to steam rooms or steam baths.
Dry saunas are hotter overall, but far less humid. Infrared saunas are typically dry, with low levels of moisture. They also don’t heat up to the same levels.
The typical dry Finnish sauna will hit temperatures of 176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If that sounds roasting-hot, that’s because it is.
Comparatively, a sauna running off infrared emitters will reach 104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Average Length of Sessions
The hotter the sauna, the more limited your time in it will be. It isn’t wise to overdo it—prolonged exposure to heat can result in heatstroke.
Your time in a traditional sauna could be as limited as five to ten minutes. Since infrared varieties aren’t as scorching, you’re more likely to enjoy extended sessions.
Infrared saunas share many of the health benefits of regular saunas. However, they’re ideal for people who can’t tolerate excessively high temperatures.
Improved Recovery After Exercise
Spending time in an infrared sauna could help you attain your fitness goals. Studies have confirmed saunas boost muscle recovery times in athletes and can improve flexibility.
Far-infrared saunas (FIS) have been proven to help in this respect. One study monitored physically active men using one such sauna after hard exercise.
It was set to lower temperatures of 95 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, with low humidity. The results indicated favorable effects on the participants’ recovery process.
Infrared saunas could also potentially cut down on oxidative stress after exercise. Controlled exposure to heat is good for our muscles overall.
These saunas could also diminish that sore feeling we have after a tough workout. Officially known as delayed onset muscle soreness, heat is a common and successful treatment for it.
Reduce Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is a debilitating condition that can make daily life laborious. Insomnia, malaise, and other unpleasant symptoms can be challenging to treat.
A small study on two patients with CF showed that far-infrared sauna therapy helped. Both individuals reported improvement of their symptoms after 15 to 25 daily sessions.
Help Heart Health
Several studies have revealed that perusing saunas regularly could lower blood pressure. In patients suffering from congestive heart failure, cardiac function improved after repeated trips to a far-infrared sauna.
Improve Joint Pain
If you suffer from joint pain, an infrared sauna could work to alleviate it. When your whole body hurts, spot-treatment with hot water bottles and blankets isn’t feasible.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosis spondylitis (AS) used a far-infrared sauna for four weeks. They enjoyed decreased stiffness, fatigue, and overall pain.
Enhance Your Mood
There’s something soothing about sitting in a hot sauna. There’s a reason why it’s a popular trope in films to portray characters relaxing.
Taking a break from the rigors of everyday life to sit in peace and sweat is uniquely relaxing. Tensions from athletic pursuits or hectic workdays seem to melt away.
One study has shown that long-term sauna use correlates to a decreased chance of psychotic disorders.
Admittedly, that may not be applicable to many of us—although it is promising. A Japanese trial revealed sauna bathers enjoyed improved moods and lessened anxiety.
How to Use
Not all infrared saunas are identical. The construction and controls are unique to the model you’re using.
Publically available infrared saunas will usually be operated by staff. This could be at your local spa, gym, or certain medical facilities.
Ask as many questions as you want about the temperature, cost, and time. Find out what appropriate sauna-wear is and if you can book it for solo use.
If you decide you want a sauna of your very own and buy one, familiarize yourself with the user manual. Take the time to go over all the basics before you first switch it on.
How Often Should You Use an Infrared Sauna?
There’s no universally recommended frequency for infrared saunas. It will vary from person to person.
Your health and tolerance are two key factors. If you have a chronic condition, you could be obliged to limit how often you indulge yourself.
Healthy sauna enthusiasts can experiment. You may find that daily sessions are fine for you—or that twice a week is enough. It’s up to you and your tolerance for heat.
We’ll cover more on how to profit from this type of therapy below.
Other Tips To Consider
If you’re feeling nervous about your first infrared sauna experience, you shouldn’t be. Read our tips to ensure that you have a satisfying, relaxing time:
Consult Your Doctor First
Make sure you ask your doctor about infrared saunas if you have an illness. People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis often find that sweating exacerbates itching.
The autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis (MS) often provokes heat sensitivity. You get the idea—check in with a medical professional first. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Never enter an infrared sauna when you’ve been drinking. The same goes for hangovers—wait until you feel better.
You may think that some wine or beer will enhance the sensations, but it can be dangerous. For one, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed by the heat and pass out.
Next, booze affects your body’s ability to stabilize blood pressure. You’ll increase your risk of heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
If you already have issues with your heart, something more serious could happen. Don’t chance it: avoid or heavily limit alcohol on infrared sauna days.
Skip Sick Days
If you’re feeling poorly, you may think an infrared sauna can help. However, it’s better to let yourself recover before you go in.
The heat can make you feel worse if you’re already feverish and nauseous. If you’re already weak, you don’t want to hazard losing consciousness.
We’ve established that infrared saunas aren’t as searing-hot as traditional saunas. Nonetheless, you’re still going to end up sweating.
Heavier individuals should be particularly cautious when it comes to hydration. The higher your BMI is, the more vulnerable you are to dehydration. Make sure you drink water before and after your sauna sessions.
Acclimatize Yourself Gently
Avoid comparing yourself to other bathers (if you’re using a public sauna). If five minutes feels like enough for you, that’s fine.
Don’t force yourself to stay for longer—you aren’t doing yourself any favors. It will take time for you to get used to the heat.
Similarly, if you bought an infrared sauna to use at home, go slowly. You don’t need to crank it up to the maximum temperature right off the bat.
Don’t forget that infrared saunas are supposed to be beneficial. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable to get the most out of it.
Wear a bathing suit or (if the sauna is private) nothing at all. Meditate, perform gentle stretches—just make sure you don’t lull yourself to sleep. You don’t want to get heatstroke.
Let Yourself Recuperate
Once you’re done, give yourself time to recuperate. Take a shower to cool your skin down and wash away the sweat.
Rehydrate yourself with water or non-alcoholic beverages. If the heat makes you feel sleepy rather than invigorated, set aside time for a nap afterward.
With all the advantages of infrared saunas, it’s understandable if you want one for yourself. These are our top recommended manufacturers for infrared saunas:
JNH Lifestyles has a 5-star rating on Reseller Ratings. They sell infrared saunas of various sizes and capabilities.
Unlike other companies on our list, JNH Lifestyles are all about saunas. They don’t sell anything else besides infrared saunas and related accessories.
All of their saunas are third-party tested for quality before they’re sold. This is reassuring since a poorly-built sauna can be dangerous.
The JNH Lifestyles Joyous 2-person sauna has over 1,200 reviews on Amazon and a 4.7-star rating.
If you insist on buying products like this from specialists, you can’t go wrong with this company. The website states that their team has 20 years of experience in the field.
If you look up “best infrared saunas,” you’ll find Radiant at the top of the list with JNH Lifestyles.
The Radiant line also includes plenty of practical accessories, such as seat cushions and aromatherapy kits.
This company manufactures a range of handy home products, including portable infrared saunas. These are ideal starter-saunas for users not ready to commit to a larger one.
Their one-person sauna has been selected for the prestigious Amazon’s Choice award. If you’re limited on space but don’t want to sacrifice on quality, this brand will appeal to you.
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