The Science of Sweat

How Infrared Saunas Work

Many of the most common ailments American adults face are caused, at least in part, by stress. Stress is a natural part of life and unavoidable in the midst of our 20th century to-do lists, but spending just a few minutes a day resetting in an infrared sauna can bring a new sense of calm to the chaos, help your brain and body detox, and balance your hormones. 

But how? Read on for all of the sweat science! 

What is an infrared sauna? 

Infrared saunas are what spa dreams are made of – natural wood sanctuaries equipped with heat generating, infrared lights. A traditional sauna works by heating the air around you, increasing the level of humidity and warming you from the outside, in. An infrared sauna however emits a lower heat range, no humidity and works from the inside out to raise your core body temperature.

What do infrared saunas feel like?

Infrared saunas are all about comfortable heat, and the temperature is much milder than that of a traditional sauna. Traditional saunas normally operate at temperatures of 200 degrees or higher, while infrared saunas tend to stay around 100 to 150 degrees. The feeling of infrared light on your skin will be similar to lying in the sun – you’ll feel the heat from the light transfer to your skin. 

Note that although you’ll be warming up, it is fairly common not to sweat during an infrared sauna session. Some people do, some don’t, and both are entirely normal. In fact, everyone sweats differently, so the reason you’re not sweating may be entirely unique to you, i.e. how hydrated you are, your age, your body size, etc. Either way, rest assured you’ll reap the benefits of the near, mid and far wavelengths. 

How do infrared saunas work? 

Infrared is not your traditional sauna. A traditional sauna works by heating the air around you, adding humidity to the air to generate a sweat. An infrared sauna emits a lower heat range, no humidity and works from the inside out. 

When using an infrared sauna, the heat from the lamps will raise your core body temperature by about three degrees.  Those 3 degrees lead to prolonged, “deep” sweating. Under normal circumstances, like the sweat we generate from a brisk walk, our sweat is mostly made up of water. However, “deep” sweating in a sauna is a chemical sweat and can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury, and other toxins we’ve picked up by interacting with our environments. 

That “deep sweat” also helps your peripheral blood vessels to dilate and increases the rate at which blood is delivered to tissue throughout your body, which can mean overall improved circulation, improved organ function and heightened recovery after a tough workout or injury.

But the physical benefits don’t stop there!

Infrared light therapy for stress

Have you felt stressed lately? The gentle, persistent heat experienced during an infrared sauna can help reduce the level of cortisol— the stress hormone— in our blood. Infrared sauna bathing also stimulates the production of serotonin, “the happy hormone,” in our blood, leading to improved mood.

When we’re less stressed and more happy, we’re more likely to get better sleep. If you choose to sauna in the evening, you’ll help your body process the natural, slow decline in endorphins, prepping your mind for a night of deep, restful sleep and preventing symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as anxiety and depression.

Because infrared saunas work by making you sweat, it’s best if you don’t shower immediately after a session – that way you’ll continue to reap the benefits even after you exit the sauna. 

Infrared light therapy for your heart 

There are cardiovascular benefits to sauna bathing too! When our core body temperature rises, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and heart rate and circulation increase. Research has found that the heart rate can rise to 110-120 beats per minute (bpm) in the sauna and even up to 140-150 bpm for some people. Regular sauna usage has been shown to reduce the risk of fatal cardiac incidents, stroke and hypertension, and can burn up to 600 calories in a single session.

Infrared light therapy for chronic pain sufferers

Because infrared saunas promote oxygen-rich circulation of the blood, infrared sauna bathing has been known to reduce inflammation and swelling and alleviate joint or muscle pain tension. 

Infrared saunas for hormonal imbalances

Even hormone imbalances and the associated symptoms, like chronic acne and irregular menstruation, can be corrected through infrared light therapy. Because infrared saunas can help to lower cortisol levels, time spent in the sauna can help balance insulin, testosterone, estrogen and provide support for the adrenals and thyroid. 

Best of all— it just feels good!

With a time commitment of under an hour, just 3-4 times a week, infrared sauna bathing is easily one of the most accessible forms of wellness at our fingertips. Meditate, read a book, listen to music or simply close your eyes, and boost both your emotional and physical wellbeing at the same time.

All it takes is a few minutes a day to look and feel better. We’re here when you’re ready. 

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