The regular use of a sauna is known to improve your health in many ways.
Not only does regular sauna use enhance your health, but it can even help you live longer while benefitting your mental health, as well.
Whether you own your own sauna or use one at a gym or wellness center, this practice is an excellent way to treat chronic conditions, reduce pain, and help your body heal itself naturally.
Infrared saunas are the newest technology to hit the sauna market, and they are quickly gaining popularity.
Below, we explore the basics of infrared saunas, including what they are, what makes them different from traditional dry saunas, and how to use one properly.
Understanding Infrared Saunas
A traditional dry sauna uses a heater to warm the air inside the sauna room.
The hot air then touches your skin, which heats your body.
By contrast, an infrared sauna uses a special kind of invisible light to heat the body directly.
While a different sort of sauna experience, infrared saunas are an excellent way to enjoy many sauna benefits while also enjoying more energy efficiency and lower temperatures that still produce health results.
Infrared light is comprised of invisible wavelengths.
This type of light is what gives sunlight its warmth.
Unlike ultraviolet rays, infrared wavelengths are not harmful to the body.
This type of radiation is absorbed quickly by the body, and the heat that it generates within you has many health benefits.
The standard infrared sauna room looks like a traditional dry or Finnish sauna.
They are generally constructed from durable, natural woods and other materials that can withstand high heat.
While other types of saunas use some kind of furnace, an infrared sauna has one or more special panels embedded in the walls.
These panels emit various wavelengths of infrared light, including far-infrared rays (FIR).
The air inside an infrared sauna is not as hot as a traditional sauna room.
This is because the energy from the panels is absorbed directly by the body, raising your core temperature from within, so there is no need to heat the air to extremely elevated temperatures.
Sitting or lying in an infrared sauna causes you to sweat in the same way a traditional sauna works, and you, therefore, enjoy all the same benefits you would from other types of heat sources.
Unlike a conventional sauna that includes rocks upon which water is poured to produce steam, infrared saunas are completely dry.
The typical infrared sauna emits FIR as well as shorter wavelengths of infrared light.
Each wavelength affects the body differently.
While FIR waves are the closest to your body’s natural heat, mid-infrared waves are more likely to influence water molecules and therefore affect your heart, blood, and muscles.
Near-infrared rays penetrate the deepest into your body.
The average temperature in a far infrared sauna is around 115 degrees Fahrenheit by can range anywhere between 110-140 degrees.
Because the air does not get as hot, infrared saunas are sometimes more comfortable for people to use, especially those who are overly sensitive to heat.
They use less energy than other types of saunas, which makes them more cost-effective to purchase as well as operate.
How Infrared Saunas Work
The type of energy used in infrared saunas is known as radiant heat.
Unlike a traditional sauna that uses convection to heat the air, which then heats your body, infrared saunas use radiant heat to warm your body’s molecules directly.
Your body absorbs the rays of invisible light, and the heat of the energy is transferred directly to your tissues.
Your body readily absorbs infrared light, so you are warmed from the inside out, versus the warming from the outside that happens in a Finnish sauna experience.
Through a process known as resonant absorption, the frequencies of infrared radiation emitted by the panels match those frequencies of your body’s cells.
This resonance allows water to easily pass through the cell membranes, which pushes out toxins and pollutants and encourages their secretion through your sweat.
When your temperature rises, and you perspire, all those wastes are removed, and your body is detoxified.
How to Use an Infrared Sauna
Using an infrared sauna is similar in many ways to other types of sweat bathing experiences.
Start by taking a cleansing shower to remove any oils, dirt, and products from your skin.
When you sweat, these particles can get trapped in your pores and cause problems later.
Be sure to read and follow the instructions for your particular sauna unit carefully.
You may need to preheat your unit before entering.
Each sauna works differently, so always follow the instructions provided by your manufacturer.
Depending on if you are using a private or public sauna, you may choose to be naked or to wear a bathing suit while inside the unit.
It is a personal choice.
No matter what you wear, you should always sit or lay on a towel inside the infrared sauna.
This will prevent oils and sweat from your skin from transferring to the bench or other wood inside the unit.
Also, because these surfaces can get hot over time, a towel will protect sensitive skin from being irritated.
You should stay inside the sauna only as long as you feel comfortable.
When you are just starting, that may be only about 10 minutes.
As you become acclimated to the heat, you can increase the length of your sessions.
Most people stay in anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes.
You should always drink water before, during, and after a session inside an infrared sauna.
While you may not sweat as much in an infrared sauna compared to a Finnish sauna, you are still losing fluids and electrolytes that need to be replenished.
Drinking water with a pinch of salt or electrolyte powder can replace the nutrients that you lose from sweating, as well.
You can do whatever you like while enjoying your sauna session.
Listening to music, reading, or just plain relaxing are popular options.
Some people like to use this time to meditate while others enjoy visiting with friends or loved ones.
You should close your sauna session with a cleansing shower to remove sweat, toxins, and oils from your skin.
A cool shower also helps you to lower your body temperature and close your pores to prevent clogging.
Using an infrared sauna regularly can help you relax, reduces your stress, and can improve your overall health.
Because infrared saunas are more cost-effective and less hot than traditional saunas, they make an excellent option for many people.