Infrared saunas are essentially small structures equipped with infrared heaters. These heaters emit infrared rays that directly warm up the body instead of the environment. The resulting sensation almost feels natural, like standing under direct sunshine.
You will feel your body warming up inside even though your surroundings remain moderately cool. Infrared saunas are a type of dry sauna, so you can’t expect steam or high humidity levels.
A number of benefits have been attributed to infrared saunas, and some of them are thoroughly backed up by research. If you’re wondering whether infrared saunas are safe, just read on to get your questions answered.
“Excessively” is a big word. But yes, staying for half an hour inside an infrared sauna will make you sweat a considerable amount. This is a good thing because sweating has been proven to have a number of health benefits.
For example, a research study involving middle-aged Finnish men found that those who scheduled sauna sessions two to three days a week experienced a 23% less chance of developing a fatal heart disease. Those who frequented the sauna more than three days a week saw even fewer risks in heart-related episodes.
While sweating is good for most people, it can be detrimental to those who suffer from eczema. A study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics reported that children who take regular sauna baths experienced worse symptoms of eczema compared to those who spent minimal time in said structures.
Let Dr. Ernst van der Wall from the Netherlands Leiden University Medical Center answer that question for you. He said that a sauna session “leads to a significant increase in heart rate and reduction in total vascular resistance, thereby decreasing blood pressure.” What does this imply?
It only supports the claim that saunas are generally safe even for people with heart conditions. Dr. van der Wall even assured us by noting, “Death in a sauna is a rare event, even in Finland where the frequency of sauna bathing is high.”
There’s evidence to back up the claim that infrared saunas can be used to treat congestive heart failure, chronic pain, and high blood pressure. By paying regular visits to an infrared sauna, you can even out irregular heartbeats and boost the endothelial function in the blood vessels in your heart.
Traditional steam saunas that use wood or electricity to insulate the chamber usually reach 185 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This can create an intolerably hot atmosphere for heat-sensitive people.
On the other hand, infrared saunas have lower temperature and humidity levels since they use wavelengths that don’t necessarily heat up the surrounding environment but instead direct the heat rays to the human body.
To use the words of Dr. Richard Beever, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of British Columbia, “As infrared heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air, users develop a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature than they would in traditional saunas.” This means that the risk of overheating is lower in infrared saunas compared to traditional steam rooms.
Still, overstaying in an infrared sauna can inflict some temporary damages to the body. A person who overstays in a heat session can be at risk of fainting or dehydration. Children and older people are more prone to overexposure, so make sure to consult with a medical professional before sending them off for a sauna bath.
People with certain health disorders such as diabetic neuropathy, adrenal suppression, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis are also ill-advised to use a sauna. Make sure to take extra precautions before attempting to join a heat session.
In a report that subjected forty-six chronic pain sufferers to a test, it was found that those who used a sauna every day for four weeks experienced a 54% improvement in their quality of sleep.
It was also found that this group was 27% more likely to get back to work compared to the no-sauna group. Still, professionals make it clear that reports like this are based on small clusters, so they can’t really be taken too seriously until further studies are made.
Are you still wondering if infrared saunas are worth a try? Surely the aforementioned proofs have already given you sufficient reason to try the sauna experience. After all, you have little to lose and everything to gain.