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How Often Should You Use Infrared Sauna?

It’s claimed that infrared saunas can have lots of benefits for your health. But what do you need to do to get the most from the experience? And how often should you use an infrared sauna? Is it a case of the more the merrier? Or are there reasons to pace yourself?

Quick answer:

Having a break of one day between each day of use, at least to begin with. The idea is that this will give your body time to adjust to the heat. There are even more prescriptive regimes, suggesting using the sauna on alternate days for three weeks. You’re then told to increase your usage to every day, taking a day off every 7 to 10 days.

We’re going to find answers to all these questions and more! So step this way to find out everything you need about using an infrared sauna.

What makes an infrared sauna different?

To start with, let’s take a look at the differences between a regular sauna and an infrared one.

The first infrared sauna was invented way back in 1891. Its creator was John Harvey Kellogg, the brother of Will, the chap who invented the famous breakfast cereal. Both Kelloggs were very interested in public health. It might surprise you to know that cornflakes were originally developed to be an aphrodisiac!

The first infrared sauna was designed to stimulate healing. It was intended to cause the user to sweat more quickly than a traditional sauna. The idea was that this would encourage toxins to leave the body.

Today’s models work on a similar basis. With a traditional sauna, the air gets hot, and steam is generated from water poured on hot coals. There’s none of that with an infrared sauna. Instead, it uses heaters that emit infrared light.

The infrared rays emit radiant heat. In other words, they heat the sauna user directly, rather than heating the air around them. That also means you can get the same effects of heat on your body at a lower ambient temperature.

As a result, many people find infrared saunas much more comfortable than traditional models.

The method of heating also means there’s more flexibility in the design. Some infrared saunas take the form of an enclosed cabin, like a traditional sauna. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

You can find inexpensive infrared sauna tents. And if you want a really convenient option, you can even invest in an infrared sauna blanket. This looks a bit like a sleeping bag, and you simply rest your body inside.

So what are the benefits?

The benefits of an infrared sauna

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The health benefits of infrared saunas are – pardon the pun – hotly disputed. Some people swear by them, but the medical evidence isn’t conclusive.

The basic theory is that by warming the body, saunas impart many of the benefits of light exercise. This flows on to a wide range of claims for what they can achieve. These include lowering blood pressure, detoxifying the body by removing heavy metals, alleviating pain, and reducing cholesterol.

So how much of this is true?

Well, there’s some evidence that infrared saunas in particular can help to lower blood pressure. Ditto for their role in treating some forms of heart disease. There’s also limited evidence that they can help people suffering from chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Unfortunately, those studies were small-scale and didn’t take place over a very long period. So while the results are positive, the jury is still out.

A larger scale study in Finland found that regular use of a Finnish style sauna had health benefits. It appeared to offer protection for a range of heart problems. The participants in this case were all men.

Finnish saunas, however, are different from infrared ones. They have a higher temperature and dry air, with humidity levels of between 10 and 20 percent.

And it’s possible that the social aspect of sauna use in Finland is what’s behind the health benefits. Saunas are used as places for family and friends to get together. And there’s a strict etiquette to avoid discussing controversial topics. In other words, it’s a great way to relax and alleviate stress.

Other claims for the benefits of infrared saunas appear to be untrue. The evidence suggests that using infrared saunas simply doesn’t lower cholesterol at all. Ditto for detoxifying in general, and for removing heavy metals from your body in particular.

But what is certainly true is that spending time in an infrared sauna can be a very pleasant experience. The heat feels great and will leave your skin with a lovely (if short-lived) glow.  And some commercial operations add ambient lighting and soothing music into the mix.

So while it’s not a good idea to have blind faith in the health benefits of infrared saunas, it’s undoubtedly a pleasant way to spend time. And who can argue with feeling relaxed and comfortable?

How Often To Use an Infrared Sauna? (Our Recommends)

We’ve seen that the health benefits of using an infrared sauna are mostly unproven. That means there’s no particular frequency with which you need to use them. But is it possible to overdo your use of infrared saunas?

Well, some suggest having a break of one day between each day of use, at least to begin with. The idea is that this will give your body time to adjust to the heat.

There are even more prescriptive regimes, suggesting using the sauna on alternate days for three weeks. You’re then told to increase your usage to every day, taking a day off every 7 to 10 days.

There seems to be little, if any, scientific basis for such a formula, however. Claims that saunas stimulate some kind of cellular change in your body are unfounded. There’s really no need to take time out for your body to get to grips with such mystical transformations.

And because an infrared sauna has a lower ambient temperature, most people will find it quite comfortable. That’s even the case for people who find a traditional sauna too intense.

While the evidence for health benefits is patchy, the good news is that there’s no evidence of adverse effects.

The main thing to remember when using your sauna is to stay hydrated. The heat will cause your body to sweat, so you need to replace the fluid that you’ve lost. Drinking plenty of water before and after your sauna session is very important.

Do this, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t use an infrared sauna as often as you like. Of course, as with any routine, you are your own best guide. Listen to your body, and increase or decrease your sauna use if you feel you need to.

What’s the right temperature?

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Infrared saunas – including sauna blankets – offer a range of different settings. That allows you to adjust the heat to where you feel comfortable. But is there a correct temperature to get the most from your sauna session?

The short answer is “no”. Of course, you want your sauna to be warm enough to give you that lovely post-sauna glow. But what feels comfortable will differ from one person to the next. So choose a level that feels right to you.

Most sauna blankets start with a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and max out at about 160 degrees. It’s a good idea to start low and work your way up. That will give you time to acclimatize to the heat. But don’t feel that you need to achieve a particular goal!

Cranking your sauna or sauna blanket to the max isn’t necessary. And if it leaves you feeling uncomfortable, you’ll have undone the whole point of the sauna experience. Remember – it’s supposed to be relaxing!

There’s also an important relationship between the temperature of the sauna and the length of your session. A slightly cooler sauna will allow you to have a longer session in comfort. And some sauna blankets will restrict the length of time they can be used at higher settings for safety.

 

What should I wear in an infrared sauna?

If you’re a sauna newbie, you may be wondering what you should wear in an infrared sauna. The answer is the same as for a regular sauna – either go naked or wear a swimming costume.

Of course, the option you choose may depend on where you’re taking your sauna! In some parts of Europe, it’s the norm to go naked. Elsewhere, stripping off completely for a public sauna could be considered indecent! If in doubt, ask at the venue.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own sauna, of course, the choice is yours! But if you’re using a sauna blanket, you will want something to cover your skin. That’s both to absorb the sweat, and to protect your skin from the heat of the blanket.

Some sauna blankets come with cotton wraps. If you don’t have one of those, a loose pair of jogging bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt will be ideal.

Ready for your infrared sauna?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the key points about infrared saunas. And we hope you’re now feeling comfortable about how often to use one!

Take the claims of health benefits with a pinch of salt – especially when it comes to weight loss, lowering cholesterol or detoxifying. But there’s no need to worry about any adverse effects. And a regular session in an infrared sauna can be a great way to relax.

So take a long drink of water, strip off and enjoy the heat!

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