You have booked yourself in for a 30 minute far infrared sauna session, and you walk out feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, energised and sweaty! “What magic do they put in these strange wooden boxes?”, you think to yourself… We’re here to explain how this incredible far infrared technology works, how it benefits your body and how it differs from a traditional sauna.
How does Far Infrared work?
Far infrared saunas directly heat the body to induce sweating, rather than just heating the air of the room you’re in. The heating elements, which usually appear to be large panels on the walls of the sauna, reflect heat in the form of far infrared light that is emitted to the body. Far infrared is the longest wavelength, emitting light that is not visible to the naked eye. The sun produces most of its energy output in the infrared segment of the spectrum, which is why you feel a similar penetrative heat on a sunny day. This is done through a process called conversion.
Approximately, 20% of the heat created heats the air of the room, whilst the other 80% heats your body. This does make the experience of sitting in a far infrared sauna more enjoyable, as the temperatures are typically lower than a traditional sauna. You are able to truly relax, without struggling to breathe or quickly overheating. A far infrared sauna usually reaches a temperature of around 60 degrees celsius, whilst a traditional sauna sits at about 70-80 degrees celsius.
This type of heat is absorbed well by the water content in our skin, allowing it to reach up to a depth of 5mm. Far infrared is the best suited wavelength for the purpose of a sauna, as your body’s core temperature is raised, boasting benefits of detoxification and better immune system function.
How can using a Far Infrared Sauna help me?
There are many benefits of spending time in an far infrared sauna – including improved skin health, eliminating toxins and pain relief.
Skin – As your body increases in temperature, the pores all over your body begin to open up bringing toxins and dead skin cells to the surface. Bring along a gentle exfoliating glove or dry brush during your time in the sauna to scrub off this excess, leaving your skin glowing and clear.
Detoxification – A review published in 2012 by the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, found that certain chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury are prominent in sweat. Another study published later in the same journal, showed that induced sweating is also effective in the elimination of BPA – a contaminant that has been associated with negative health conditions. Far infrared saunas are a great way to induce sweating, allowing the body to expel toxins.
Blood Circulation & Heart Health – High temperature exposure helps blood vessels expand, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Researchers in Finland found that more frequent sauna use was associated with decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Athletic Recovery – Saunas have been shown to decrease inflammation within the body, assisting in muscle recovery and other chronic or minor pain conditions. This impact is enhanced further, when using a far infrared sauna as the heat is able to penetrate further into your body.
Stress Management – Anyone who has used a sauna, knows that you walk out feeling super refreshed. This could be partly due to spending time in a quiet space, away from screens. Mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing are definitely recommended.
Brain Function – The body to release more norepinephrines when time is spent in the sauna. Increased norepinephrine levels are believed to help protect us from multiple brain conditions, like Alzheimer’s and migraines. Alongside norepinephrine, the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor also increases with both exercise and heat exposure. Research shows that BDNF is associated with the birth of new neurons and an increase in cognitive function.
Our Top Tips for using a Far Infrared Sauna
There’s many things to keep in mind when using a far infrared sauna to gain the most benefit from your session, and avoid any potential risk.
Hydration – keeping your water levels high before and after using the sauna, will help to flush toxins out and also maintain hydration levels within your body. Excess sweating can lead to severe dehydration very quickly, so this is very important!
Listen to Your Body – If you are new to using saunas, don’t go too hard, too fast. Lowering the temperature on the control panel can help, as well as keeping your session to 15 – 20 mins the first few times. Never push past your body’s limits in the sauna, as this can result in dizziness, feeling light headed, fainting etc.
Put your Phone Away – It is rare we get to spend time in complete stillness, without interruptions of constant notifications and stimulation. Using your time in the sauna to practice meditation or even just relaxing with some soft music playing, will make sure you leave feeling both physically and mentally refreshed.
Exfoliate – During your time in the sauna, your pores open up and expel toxins. It is important to thoroughly cleanse the skin afterwards to remove dead skin cells. This will also assist with lymphatic drainage!
We hope that this information has encouraged you to try out a far infrared sauna or get in one on a more consistent basis! It is great to know that the health benefits felt almost immediately by users, are also backed up by many great published studies.