*Disclaimer: The written article is based on a summary of existing literature on the topic of infrared saunas. The article is for educational purposes and the information provided below cannot be taken as a promise to help with acute health problems or diseases.
The claims in the article are backed by 64 scientific references. All references are numbered. You can access the text of the reference by clicking on the number.
Infrared Sauna Benefits And Disadvantages
You’ve probably heard that infrared saunas are amazing for your health. Many online sources promise you “detox”, “better skin”, “more energy”, but, what’s true or not about those claims?
I’m Johannes, and as the CEO of Clearlight Infrared Saunas®, I’ve got years of experience in this field. In this blog post, I’ll cover the topic of infrared sauna benefits and disadvantages - from the perspective of the latest science.
In short, you’ll learn about what claims about “better skin” or “more energy” are true or not!
In the first section, I’ll consider 17 different infrared sauna health benefits. The second section treats infrared sauna disadvantages (potential side-effects). In the last section, I’ll give my conclusion.
Table Of Contents Of This Blog Post
- The 17 Best Science-Backed Infrared Sauna Health Benefits
- The 5 Most Important Infrared Sauna Downsides
Let’s go then. I’ll begin with the infrared sauna health benefits:
The 17 Best Science-Backed Infrared Sauna Health Benefits
In this section, I’m simplifying the science of infrared saunas in simple to understand terms. Here are 17 health benefits of infrared saunas:
1. Boosting Overall Health - A Lowered Risk Of Dying Or “All-Cause Mortality”
“All-cause mortality” is your general risk of dying independent of cause. What if there were a pill that would dramatically reduce your risk of dying?
In other words, your risk of dying of diseases like heart problems, lung diseases, etcetera, would dramatically go down after taking that pill.
Everyone would take that pill, correct?
Unfortunately, there’s no such pill on the market today.
But here’s the upside:
Recent scientific studies demonstrate that spending more time in a sauna independently reduces your “all-cause mortality risk” (1)!
For now, that risk factor is mostly studied in relation to heart health, but, looking at the full picture in this blog post, you’ll learn that many other risk factors such as lung conditions and diabetes are also positively affected.
In plain English: you’ll live longer and healthier!
The 16 other areas listed below explain why. So let’s move on to the second benefit:
2. Quicker Athletic Recovery
Several studies have been published on sauna use and athletic recovery, fortunately, but not all are positive!
One study, for instance, found that recovery during athletic swimming was impeded by sauna use (2)!
Simple: the athletes used 3 sessions of 8 minutes of a Finnish sauna after an already intense swimming session! The swimming sessions were an all-out performance.
So that’s it, end of story, right?
Not so quick:
Other studies show a different picture (3)! This study specifically compared the traditional Finnish sauna with an infrared sauna.
The group receiving the far infrared sauna significantly improved their “countermovement jump”, a test for explosive power and general athletic capacity. Participants receiving the traditional sauna treatment didn’t get that benefit.
What’s the significance of that result? Well, far more (high-quality) studies need to be conducted, but, the preliminary conclusion is that the very gentle (far) infrared light probably enhances recovery after workouts!
If you put stress on top of stress, however, by using an intense Finnish sauna after an intense workout, it might be too much.
Another study confirms this view. The study looked at a longer-term perspective of 6 endurance athletes (4). These participants used a 15-minute session at 90 degrees Celsius in a Finnish sauna setup.
After 3 weeks, overall performance increased by 1.9%, when the outcomes were translated to a scientific model that measures how well athletes do in competition. To many high-level athletes, a 1.9% improvement is a true game-changer, especially if you’re competing at a high level.
Also, blood plasma, red blood cell, and overall blood volumes increased in the participants using the sauna. These changes signify a boost of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood - a welcome benefit to many athletes!
While more research is needed, these initial studies are very promising!
Let’s now consider a problem that plagues far too many people:
3. Countering Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is one of the most debilitating conditions on this planet. At least 10% of the people in this world experience chronic pain daily!
In the UK, that number is even higher, approximating an inconceivable 33-50% (5)! So, a third to half of the people you might meet every day in the UK has some form of chronic pain.
Crazy but true…
Of course, not all these people are necessarily incapacitated - many have some form of consistent pain and are heroes for going through their day despite the setbacks!
Unfortunately, chronic pain is notoriously hard to treat. Also, many studies on sauna use and chronic pain don’t exist either. But, some hopeful outcomes exist:
- In one study, regular sauna visits worked favourably for chronic tension types of headaches (6). The intensity of the headaches went significantly down - unfortunately, no improvements were found in sleep quality, levels of depression and disability. Nonetheless, the outcome is promising!
- In another study where people with peripheral nerve pain and pain originating in the central nervous system (~spine & brain) were interviewed. Many of these people perceived improved subjective pain perceptions after sauna use (7).
- While not a sauna study, overall, heating areas affected with chronic pain does show favourable results. In this study, paraffin and hot packs decreased anger, pain behaviour (such as compensating for discomfort) (8). Anger and different pain-avoidant behaviour are common symptoms for people who cannot control their pain. The best thing about using an infrared sauna is that it will penetrate deeper into your tissues than many alternative therapies!
- In one last study, that combines movement in water with sauna use, fibromyalgia had a 31-77% reduction in their subjective pain ratings (9). That outcome is extremely positive!
In a very wide variety of situations, sauna use can help those with chronic pain. And no, I’m not saying that using an infrared sauna a couple of times per week will fully cure or reverse the condition.
Chronic pain is an extremely complex phenomenon that is very different in many different people. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. All I’m saying is that infrared sauna use will likely improve symptoms and make your life better!
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, that statement alone is probably enough to make you happier!
4. Enhanced Heart & Blood Vessel Health
Let’s begin with a kicker:
In a study where participants were followed for 15 years, sauna use independently reduced the risk of adverse cardiovascular events (10).
Such events include heart attacks and strokes, for instance. In the study, participants already experienced a reduced risk from 2-3 sauna sessions per week. Increasing the number of sessions to 4-7 per week further increased the benefits participants got.
The more days you use a sauna per week, the greater the overall heart and blood vessel health benefits become.
On average, participants in the study only used the sauna for under 15 minutes at a time. While the study was conducted on a regular Finnish sauna, it’s very probable that you get the same benefits by spending the same amount of time in an infrared sauna as well.
A second study, by the same scientists, confirms that outcome (11).
You might think: “how do saunas accomplish that goal?”
The answer is through multiple means. The first mechanism is lowering hypertension (high blood pressure) (12). Compared to using 1 sauna session per week, 2-3 sessions per week lower your risk of having hypertension by 24%. With 4-7 sessions, the outcome increases to 46%.
To simplify those numbers, if you average 5 sauna sessions per week, your risk to have high blood pressure is almost half of someone who only gets 1 sauna session per week!
Keep in mind that high blood pressure is one of the best predictors of eventual “adverse cardiovascular events”, such as a stroke (13)!
For that reason, spending more time in a sauna thus also lowers your stroke risk (14). It’s also highly likely that the risk of other adverse events with your heart and blood vessel health are lowered.
Furthermore, another heart health-related benefit exists according to the science:
5. Better Blood Circulation
How about circulation? Does blood circulation also improve with infrared sauna use?
Short answer: absolutely!
Here it is:
If you’re sitting in an infrared sauna, your body will divert blood away from your organs, temporarily, and towards your skin (15). Your heart will start pumping faster, while blood pressure is lowered, so that more heat can be exchanged through your skin.
Sweating and more blood flow in your extremities accomplish that effect. In the same way that cold freezing temperatures limit blood flow to the extremities, at least initially, saunas have the opposite effect!
Even very short 15-minute sauna sessions already accomplish this effect (16)! If you exclusively want a blood circulatory effect, make sure to focus on alternating a sauna with room temperatures, not alterations between hot and cold (17).
Alternating between hot and cold will be more demanding for your heart as well, which can both be a benefit and a downside. So, ensure you’re in good health before alternating between cold plunges and (infrared) saunas!
There are indications that the blood vessel and circulation benefits of heat are structural. One animal study shows that “capillaries” - the smallest of blood vessels that exchange nutrients and toxins between the blood and your cells - are growing with heat exposure (18).
In other words, you don’t just get benefits from the sauna exposure itself. Instead, your body’s physiology also changes over time on a structural level.
Moving on to a more controversial area, but, enormously important:
The most controversial claim of any infrared sauna website: detoxification!
Many online magazines have attempted to “debunk’ the claim that infrared light or even Finnish saunas help you “detox”.
The Atlantic, for instance, writes that most sauna companies do not “provide any sort of evidence.” That’s true, but, it doesn’t mean that evidence doesn’t exist!
The Wall Street Journal makes a similar argument. Again, the problem is that by spending a few hours reading medical studies these effects can clearly be confirmed!
Let's just look at a few studies that demonstrate that you can detoxify through sweat beyond reasonable doubt:
- A study comparing people who have had arsenic poisoning and those who did not does demonstrate that people co-excrete arsenic together with zinc through their skin (19).
- Another study demonstrates that increasing sweating also increases the number of toxins, like arsenic, that are excreted through the skin (20). So, without sweating, the amount of toxins excreted is lower than with sweating, implying that if you dramatically increase the rate of sweating through an infrared sauna, you will also “detox” more toxins, such as arsenic.
- One more study shows that several types of toxins, such as nickel and cadmium, are excreted in greater quantities through sweat than in urine (21).
- One last study shows that study participants working in a lead factory, who are overexposed to lead, excrete lead at about the same rate or a slightly higher rate through sweat than urine (22).
In many of these studies, increasing your body temperature through exercising or sauna visits, also increases the detoxification speed through your skin!
And yes, the quality of the studies I’ve just quoted is not superior. Frequently, there is a low number of participants or no randomization. Nevertheless, 80% of available evidence still points in the same direction: humans detox through sweat!
(The studies listed above were taken from a brilliant study that summarizes and integrates most of the research on sweating (23). I’ve simplified the language for you.)
The bottom line? Detoxification through using an infrared sauna is very real!
Moving on to another benefit that benefits many:
7. Increased Weight Loss
Who doesn’t want to lose more weight nowadays? Whether you’re 50 pounds overweight or just want to be even more ripped, fat burning is universally valued!
Some very simple studies have investigated the effects of using a sauna for weight loss (24). Three 20-minute sauna sessions at 70 degrees Celsius, with 5 minutes of rest in between, does decrease bodyweight.
The study participants were re-hydrated after the sauna sessions, so the weight loss cannot be explained through water loss alone. Of course, you’re sweating a lot during sauna sessions, so the goal is to lose body fat and not water weight.
In the study, women lost about 1.4 kilograms and men 1.8 kilograms. Once again, the weight loss did affect athletic performance in some participants directly after the session.
So if you’re an athlete, be careful with sauna sessions around your competition.
How do saunas promote weight loss?
It’s straightforward: one mechanism is that your heart has to work a lot harder in a sauna (25). Heart rate increases by 31 to 36 beats per minute, which is similar to low-level cardio! So even though you’re technically not doing anything, your body does have to work a lot harder.
In the same study, the metabolic rate also increased by 25-33%. That increase happened after just one session!
Over time, participants did slowly adapt to the stimulus - after 7 days of saunas, heart rate increased less dramatically than during the first day.
Nevertheless, the low-level cardio and increased metabolism will help your fat-burning efforts for sure!
Here’s a related benefit, moreover:
8. Lowered Diabetes Risk & Better Diabetes Management
Diabetes is a topic closely related to weight loss - the relationship is more complex than assumed in the past, but strong links nevertheless exist (26; 27).
The great news?
Heat activates so-called “heat shock proteins”. Activating these heat shock proteins has a wide array of effects in your body, among which, metabolic effects (28). For instance, fasting blood sugar levels are reduced if you regularly use a sauna.
Long-term fasting blood glucose levels, called HbA1c, which are a measure of long-term blood sugar levels, can be reduced by up to 1 entire percentage point.
Let me explain why that 1 percentage point is a crazy-big difference:
In diabetic care, HbA1c levels under 6% are considered non-diabetic and levels over 6.5% diabetic. In other words, with regular sauna sessions, you can reduce your 6.5% diabetic levels to a 5.5% normal level!
Also, the loss of body fat which I’ve talked about before will positively affect your blood sugar levels. With proper blood sugar management, you’re more likely to avert diabetes!
Of course, if you’ve already got diabetes, all these benefits will positively influence your conditions as well - diabetics especially benefit from better blood glucose management!
Next, a wholly different subject:
9. For Men: Countering Erectile Dysfunction
While there aren’t any direct studies on sauna use and erectile function, it’s nevertheless likely that positive effects exist.
How do I know?
The answer is quite simple: excessively high blood pressure is tightly intertwined with erectile dysfunction (29; 30). Also, remember that infrared saunas lower your blood pressure risk by up to 46% if you’re enjoying 4-7 sauna sessions per week.
So even though the specific research on erectile dysfunction has not been carried out, you can hypothesise that there will be an effect!
Other reasons for erectile dysfunction?
Poor blood circulation and improper blood glucose management (31; 32)! What have I talked about in earlier sections? That’s correct: (infrared) saunas can improve both your blood circulation as well as glucose management!
So, even though there’s no available research on this topic, by understanding the causes of erectile dysfunction and connecting it to available health research, some conclusions can be drawn.
I also fully expect research to find positive connections between sauna use and lowering the risk of erectile dysfunction in the future.
(Other mechanisms through which erectile dysfunction can be impeded exist as well, such as lowering your stress levels and boosting the availability of a compound called “nitric oxide” in some places in the body. I’ve not included these as the case is already clear. So more mechanisms for countering erectile dysfunction exist that I’m including here.)
And now that I’ve considered a male-centric health problem, let’s move on to the better sex:
10. For Women: Helping You Deal With Menopause
Infrared light is not only wonderful for men: it also loves women’s health and vice versa! Here’s why:
With only 2 sessions of “far infrared” light exposure per week, for 10 weeks long, many aspects of their health improved (33). The study compared an intervention group with far infrared therapy with a control group who received no therapy at all.
The women in the intervention group not only experienced psychological benefits (e.g., they felt better) but many other ones as well. Other benefits included that of better blood circulation, fewer urologic and reproductive symptoms, and improvements in their muscular and skeletal systems.
The crazy part is that the far infrared therapy was only applied to the lower back of these women. Imagine what benefits these women would have with a far infrared sauna that treats their entire body.
There are even signs that infrared can help women deal with hot flashes (34)! These preliminary studies carried out on this subject are therefore very promising.
Now, let’s consider a benefit both men and women will certainly enjoy:
11. Reduced Stress And Fatigue & Enhanced Well-Being
Remember how you felt on that sunny holiday? The warm temperatures, sandy beaches, and amazing relaxation?
Well, it turns out the sun is partially responsible for that feeling! And, fortunately, infrared saunas emit about 50% of the wavelengths that the sun also emits - of course, the “infrared” part!
Many people, because of working in an office for 8 hours a day, don’t get much light exposure. Indoor lighting is simply not bright enough to get all the benefits, and indoor lighting doesn’t emit the correct wavelengths of light.
For instance, indoor lighting generally does not emit any infrared light, unless you’re using incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The solution to getting an optimal dose of infrared (IR)? A full-spectrum infrared sauna!
Some parts of the infrared spectrum, for instance, have an antidepressant and anxiety-lowering effect (35; 36; 37; 38).
It’s mostly the “near infrared” part of the spectrum that has been studied for this effect. For that reason, full-spectrum infrared saunas have a slightly higher number of health benefits than a sauna that exclusively emits far infrared light.
Additionally, one study investigated the effect of increasing temperatures on depression (39). Just one session of heating had antidepressant effects that were valid for up to six weeks. The researchers in the study didn’t measure the effects longer than that period but might have found a longer period if they aimed to do so.
So, heating your body once in a while will make you feel better than if that doesn’t happen.
But what if you’re already feeling great? In that case, you’ll experience benefits too!
Well, one theory is that increasing your body temperature activates the “serotonin” system in your brain (40). Serotonin is associated with the feeling that “all is well”, and that you’re generally happy. The system only kicks in from 27 degrees Celsius, however, and many people don’t experience those temperatures daily!
If you’re living in Denmark or Poland in the wintertime, you won’t reach that 27-degree Celsius threshold for 9 months out of the year, frequently! Saunas can help here.
Next, heating your body creates natural opioids called “beta-endorphins” (41; 42). Beta-endorphins are natural painkillers that give you feelings like the “runner’s high”.
So, even if you’re already in very good health, sauna sessions will make you feel better and happier!
Many people are astounded at how well spending some time in a high-quality infrared sauna makes them feel!
12. Improved Skin Health & Managing Skin Conditions Such As Eczema
Skin health and beauty, the universal anti-ageing sign!
Not that many studies have been carried out on sauna-use specifically regarding skin health! But, you know what? Many studies are investigating the effects of different types of infrared light and skin appearance!
Many cosmetic and beauty companies have also known for decades that different types of infrared light help your skin appearance. And, you know why many celebrities look so young? Well, it’s pretty sure that many of them use the aid of infrared light therapy in their routines!
In one study, for instance, participants received “near infrared”, one type of infrared, for a period of 6 months (43).
Every single participant reported 51-75% improvements in both roughness and skin texture. The same participants also noted a 25-50% enhancement of the colour of their skin.
These percentage improvements are based upon the subjective ratings of the participants, as well as medical professionals. Unfortunately, the study didn’t have a control group. Nevertheless, it’s highly unlikely that the outcome of the study depended on chance, as only people who had wrinkles already were recruited.
In another study, even skin wounds are positively affected by the “near infrared” part of the spectrum (44). Unfortunately, it is an animal study. On the bright side, both young and old rats benefited from the therapy.
The benefit of the Sanctuary and Outdoor models of Clearlight Saunas® is that all parts of the infrared spectrum are included. You thus get near, middle, and far infrared exposure!
Near infrared, lastly, has effects upon “wrinkles, acne scars, hypertrophic scars, and healing of burns”. So, the biological effects are truly holistic for better skin development. Far infrared, in contrast, increases circulation just below the skin (45). Sadly enough, that conclusion can only be drawn based upon an animal study, for now.
Infrared light is so powerful that it even preconditions the face against sunburns (46).
And yes, even here, too much of a “good thing” becomes a “bad thing” (47)! Some infrared light exposure for your skin is great, but, at a certain point, your results will go backward.
Nevertheless, many of our customers are surprised by how good their skin looks with consistent sauna use!
What if you have a skin condition though?
Let’s consider Eczema, a common skin problem. In one study, both parts of the ultraviolet light spectrum and infrared were compared. While infrared light had inferior effects to ultraviolet, there were still benefits to infrared light exposure (48).
The best thing? You don’t have to choose between both! If you’ve got an infrared sauna and get some sunlight once in a while, you’re getting ample exposure to both!
Next up, another organ that interacts with the outside world:
13. Aiding Lung Health & Countering Pulmonary Diseases
Just when you thought the health benefits of infrared saunas couldn't get any better, they did!
In some lung conditions, such as “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (COPD), sauna sessions do improve overall lung function (49).
The study looked at the overall lung function of 12 male participants, who improved their capacity by about 10% on a standardised test.
Another study followed almost 2,000 participants for over 25+ years (50). The outcome compared 1 sauna session per week to 2-3, and 4+, once again.
2-3 sessions per week reduce your risk for COPD, asthma, and pneumonia by 27%. 4+ sessions per week reduced the risk by 41%.
So, if you hit the sauna 4 times per week or more, you’ll almost halve your risk for lung and breathing problems!
Also, saunas are generally very safe for your airways and lungs, contrary to what many people believe (51). Only if you’ve got acute lung issues, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, should you steer clear of saunas!
Let’s move on to a less well-known condition:
14. Managing Lupus Symptoms
Lupus is a relatively common autoimmune disease - with autoimmune conditions your body’s immune system attacks your own cells.
If you have the most common Lupus - also known as “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus” - you’ll frequently experience pain during different activities.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of direct evidence that sauna use counters Lupus (symptoms). Some studies, however, speculate that sauna use, just like hot baths, can act as a great muscle relaxant (52).
Nevertheless, you and I can hypothesize a bit more about why infrared saunas benefit lupus:
First, infrared saunas lower stress and fatigue. Stress and fatigue are very common problems for people with these conditions!
Secondly, remember that sauna use can lower chronic pain. Chronic pain is yet another huge problem for people with lupus (and autoimmune conditions in general).
Thirdly, there’s the blood circulation benefit that I’ve talked about before.
And so forth…
So, even though there’s no direct evidence that infrared saunas benefit you if you’ve got Lupus, it’s very likely you get enormous benefits out of it!
Next, here’s a benefit we can all delight in:
15. Slower Ageing
Am I overpromising? How do I know saunas actually slow down ageing? Well, the answer is easy to understand:
Remember all the benefits I talked about earlier?
Once your “all-cause mortality” goes down - your risk of dying independent of cause - you’ll live longer. That decrease in all-cause mortality exemplifies itself in many ways, such as better blood circulation, lower diabetes and heart & lung disease risk, less stress, more weight loss, you’re going to increase your chances of getting very old!
There’s also direct evidence for my statement:
If you focus on a healthy lifestyle and prevent yourself from getting chronic diseases as long as possible, you slow down your biological clock (53; 54).
Also, seeing that sauna use is so supportive of many domains of your health - whether blood circulation or blood sugar management - it’s very reasonable to hypothesize that regular sauna use slows down ageing.
Of course, this finding still has to be scientifically confirmed. But given the current science, the hypothesis is far more likely to be true than not!
Here’s another problem that many people get when they age:
16. Less Joint Pain & Stiffness
I know, I know...
If you’re a 20-year-old reading this, you’ve probably never experienced joint pain in your life except for that time you had a sports accident.
Older people, however, and some who were unfortunate enough to be born with joint problems, do frequently experience joint pain.
The upside for them?
The infrared light from an infrared sauna can have tremendous effects if you fall into that category (55)! A study with both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) - conditions where painful joints play a major role - participants had significant clinical improvements over a 4-week sauna period.
After just one session, in participants with both conditions, joint pain and stiffness decreased. Longer-term, however, the results levelled off again. That outcome demonstrates that it’s probably smart to make infrared saunas part of your daily routine - if you’ve got joint problems.
Other studies confirm this outcome, showing a decrease in both joint stiffness and pain (56)!
And, although these studies are not directly using saunas, heating and hot water therapy also seem to have a beneficial effect on “osteoarthritis” - classic joint degeneration (57).
Overall, that sounds great! Here’s one last infrared sauna health benefit:
17. Greater Energy Levels
I’ve saved the best for last!
You know what?
Everyone is interested in this benefit!
To explain why infrared saunas can increase your energy levels, we need to make a detour:
Your cells contain so-called “mitochondria”. Mitochondria are the “energy-producing factories” of your cells.
If you’ve got more and bigger mitochondria, you’re generally healthier and have more energy. The problem is, that with age, the number and size of your mitochondria go down. However, exercise or cold therapy can build your mitochondria and keep them healthy into old age.
There’s more though:
The water in your mitochondria, as well as steps in the energy-production process, are directly affected by light (58; 59; 60). In fact, both red and near infrared light directly affect that energy production process.
A full-spectrum sauna can thus directly improve the amount of energy your cells generate. With more energy, every single process in your body runs more efficiently.
More energy thus also translates into feeling better, looking better, and doing better.
And that’s it...
I’ve now covered all 17 infrared sauna health benefits. You might think now: “does infrared light only have benefits? Are there no downsides?"
Let’s explore that topic in detail - some potential downsides exist but they’re really rare:
The 5 Most Important Infrared Sauna Disadvantages
Do infrared saunas have potential downsides?
Sure! Everything in life does! If you consume too much water, for instance, you put yourself at risk of water poisoning.
While that statement sounds a bit silly, there is truth in it! I’ve consistently spoken about the benefits of infrared saunas in the section about the benefits above.
For instance, studies do support that multiple, gentle sessions of saunas improve health in many different domains. And yet, some people might interpret these words as “more is better” - I explicitly want to avoid implying that statement!
Hence, if six 15-minute sessions per week are good, then, I don’t want to imply that 4 sessions of 30 minutes a day are better! With 4 sessions a day, you’ll quickly start feeling worse and your health can be negatively affected (long-term).
Moreover, some contraindications exist when using a sauna. For instance,
- If you’ve recently had heart or blood vessel problems. Examples are having a recent heart attack or pain in your chest, or, congestion of your aorta (stenosis). In such cases, I cannot recommend using an infrared sauna - consult with your physician first before starting a session!
- If you’ve got a chronic condition. With some chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome or impeded health due to an extreme toxin load, you’ll have to be far more careful with your infrared sauna sessions! You might, for instance, feel tired much more quickly and need longer to recover from your sessions than other people. Again, consult with your doctor before regularly using an infrared sauna.
- If you’re severely nutritionally depleted. Believe it or not, but, saunas put some temporary stress on your body, in the same way that exercise does. That principle is called “hormesis” in medical science and means that your body adapts over time against a stressor (61). Both sweating and stress increase the nutritional demand placed upon your body, however. And, if your body hasn’t stored sufficient quantities of minerals such as magnesium or sodium, you might experience adverse effects.
- Mild heat complaints are the most common side-effect (62; 63). The moral of that statement? Simple: if it’s getting too hot in a sauna, and you’re starting to feel unwell or you’re having discomfort, it’s time to get out! Even though this statement sounds very simple, 90%+ of side-effects and complaints can be prevented if people simply follow this rule. In the same way that continuing to run with a sprained ankle will do more damage than good, staying in a sauna if you’re feeling (extreme) discomfort has the same effect.
- Feeling tired, shot, or stressed. This side-effect occurs when you use too high a dose of infrared, for too long. Remember the 4 daily 30-minute sessions I just talked about? If you do that, you’re going to feel very tired, just like you will when overtraining in the gym. Common sense is the solution here!
Not necessarily. More disadvantages can be found, theoretically, but the ones I’ve listed occur most frequently.
Hopefully, by thinking about both the benefits and the disadvantages of infrared saunas, you’re able to get the most out of your sessions!
As you’ve learned, the “no pain, no gain” mantra doesn’t hold true for saunas! Health conditions and nutritional depletion also lower your tolerance, so be careful with that.
I do know, however, that saunas are an amazing tool to bring your health to the next level. Why? Let me tell you in my conclusion:
Conclusion: The Future Will Show You An Even Bigger List Of Benefits
How can I say that “the future will demonstrate an even bigger list of benefits?”
Just like movement & exercise, healthy food, cold exposure, both heat and infrared light are also a very primordial factor that determines your health.
In the last few decades, there’s been lots of attention on the health benefits of movement and exercise. Then, in the last decade, cold exposure entered the picture. Now, fortunately, the benefits of red and infrared light, and infrared sauna health benefits have come to light.
For millions of years, humans and their predecessors lived in a world with tons of light exposure. The sun was the main source of your ancestor’s light exposure pattern. And part of that light emitted by the sun is made up of infrared light. 54%, to be exact (64)!
Different parts of the light spectrum - such as near infrared and far infrared - was part of your life until roughly 1850 AD. After that time, humans moved indoors more and more, and we no longer got our optimal dose of daily infrared light exposure.
Suffice it to say, there’s an optimal dose of infrared light exposure. So to get the most out of your infrared sauna health benefits, you need consistent exposure over time. Both too little and too much are sub-optimal.
And because most humans aren’t getting a good dose of different types of infrared light throughout the day, a simple conclusion can be drawn. That conclusion entails that we’ll likely find many other benefits of infrared saunas because very fundamental bodily processes are supported.
Whether it’s for a rare heart condition or performance during specific sports or cognitive abilities, it’s very likely that optimizing your daily infrared dose gives you additional benefits. Future studies likely confirm this conclusion of mine, because right now, most of the research points into one direction:
You’ll simply live a better life having an infrared sauna!
From lowering your risk of diabetes to better skin, decreased stress to higher energy levels, deeper sleep, the benefits are endless.
And if I haven’t convinced you that you deserve a wonderful sauna, hopefully, you do so yourself! Every person deserves the best!