Infrared Saunas: What’s all the fire about?
Over the last year I have been making a conscious effort to spend more time doing things that make me feel GOOD. The list includes things like time with my puppy, eating delicious foods, having coffee dates and doing things simply because I want to. It also includes prioritising my health and wellbeing when I can, and carving time out of my often busy schedule to detox my body and mind in an infrared sauna.
There’s always much debate about saunas and whether or not the benefits are as great as they claim to be. Are there proven benefits of regular sauna sessions? The answer is yes. When I spend time in the sauna, I feel a noticeable difference, both emotionally and physically. But before we look at the benefits, let’s take a step back and talk about saunas themselves.
What is an Infrared Sauna and how do they work?
Throughout history, heat treatments have been effectively utilised to assist the body’s healing process. An infrared sauna is a much more recent invention, though the concept is similar to that of a traditional sauna. Infrared saunas differ in that they don’t heat the air in the sauna around you. Instead, they have infrared lights that use electromagnetic radiation to warm your body directly. They are more effective at stimulating positive changes in your cells through their use of photobiomodulation (it’s a mouthful, I know). Photobiomodulation raises the vibrating frequency of the molecules in your body, which kickstarts the healing processes within you.
Benefits of an Infrared Sauna
We are all well-versed on the benefits of heat – it increases blood flow, induces endorphins, lowers stress and improves brain function. Yet infrared saunas provide the benefits of a more specific and concentrated kind of ‘heat’. How can we benefit from using infrared saunas?
Reduced blood pressure and improved heart health
The biggest and most researched benefit of infrared saunas are in relation to our hearts. Studies have found that the use of saunas on a regular basis reduces the chance of heart failure AND helps normalise your blood pressure through increased circulation. To top it off, saunas also help lower LDL cholesterol levels!
Detox your body
As we move through our days, we are constantly exposed to unwanted chemicals. Think pesticides, cleaning products and makeup, to name just a few. When you spend time in the sauna, your circulation increases, and toxins in your body are mobilised. They are then purged from your body when you sweat – and sweat, as we know, is not in small supply in sauna rooms!
Mental state and mood
Infrared saunas promote the release of endorphins, the body’s ‘feel good’ hormone. They also help reduce stress by lowering your cortisol levels. The reason infrared saunas are particular good at this is because the infrared light penetrates several inches below your skin – this warming effect encourages the release of oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These are all neurochemicals that are found to be in low supply in times of poor mental health.
Improves your skin quality
The science behind skin improvement and infrared saunas is extremely fascinating – it weaves together several topics that I am extremely interested in. First of all, it can help get rid of (or even prevent) pimples. As mentioned above, when we sweat it aids the detoxification process. Pimples are typically caused by a build-up of oil and dirt on the skin, so when you sweat, your body unclogs these pores. It also increases blood flow and raises the frequency of your body, so the process of photobiomodulation can actually accelerate wound healing and reduce inflammation of the skin. Cool hey?!
Better quality of sleep
Saunas help facilitate effective sleep by cooling your body temperature and calming your mind. Your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day – it is cooler at night as you prepare to sleep, then warms again in the morning as you wake. Once you finish your sauna session, the body quickly cools down. Because of this, it is a perfect afternoon activity to prepare you for a good night’s sleep!
I love using infrared saunas - personally, they help me relax, improve my sleep quality and provide a kick ass (and much needed) detox for my body. Have you tried an infrared sauna? If so, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!