Infrared saunas are not a completely new technology, but they have only recently begun to make their way into the health and wellbeing mainstream. However, many people are still unsure of how they work, what the differences are compared to a traditional sauna, and what the benefits of using them are. We at UK Saunas have therefore put together a few FAQs to answer the most common queries we get about infrared saunas.
What is an infrared sauna?
Heat has been used as a health treatment for centuries, with sweat lodges and steam baths being used by ancient civilisations to improve overall health and aid relaxation. More recently, saunas we are familiar with have been those heated by hot stones, with the interior being made of wood to absorb steam and remain a comfortable enough temperature for you to relax on whilst the 80 degree heat permeates your skin.
Around the beginning of the 20th century advancements were made in sauna therapies when infrared lamp sauna treatments were created. Since then this technology has undergone a great deal of development, and over the last few decades have been moving into the mainstream of health and wellbeing spheres, with many health professionals now advocating the benefits of infrared light treatment.
These saunas use heat and light to help relax and detoxify the body by emitting infrared light waves, which create heat within the body causing you to sweat. This process has a healing effect on the body, and provides a number of health benefits (see below).
How do they work?
These saunas work by emitting infrared light waves which penetrate the body, heating it from the inside out. This means it takes longer for the body to start sweating than in a usual sauna as the process is more gradual and directed at the inside of the body rather than just the skin and pores.
This can be an unfamiliar experience to new users, as the infrared light is directed at warming the body rather than the air around you; it is not as overwhelming as the heat experienced in traditional saunas. The experience is similar to sunbathing, as the rays penetrate your skin encouraging a natural heating sensation.
How are they different from traditional saunas?
Traditional saunas are a high heat low humidity environment, with temperatures kept above 80 degrees Celsius through the use of hot stones, and the heat can be intensified by pouring water over the stones. In contrast, infrared saunas provide a much milder environment, using infrared rays to heat the body from the inside-out, and the surrounding air heats secondarily, but nowhere near to the degree that it does in a traditional sauna.
The experience of these saunas is very different in that a traditional sauna will cause the body to sweat almost instantly, whereas the body requires around 12-20 minutes of exposure to infrared rays before it begins to sweat. The benefits from infrared saunas are based on the effects of the light rays within the body, and the way this gradual warming effect can aid with various ailments; whereas traditional saunas revolve around the sweating process and the cleansing of the skin.
What are the health benefits?
There are many health benefits of using an infrared sauna. Although research is still ongoing into the long-term impacts, there is evidence to suggest that this treatment can promote anti-ageing skin recovery, detoxify the body, reduce join pain, aid muscle recovery and assist cardiovascular healing.
They are believed to have a parasympathetic healing effect which means they enable the body to handle stress better, so in this way they also have the potential to help with diseased like insomnia and depression as well as hormonal imbalances. These are the effects getting the most attention, and if you wish to learn more about infrared saunas help with these issues as well as many more, take a look at our blog.
Who should use them?
In reference to the question above, those who would benefit most from infrared sauna therapy are people who wish to try an alternative treatment to one of the ailments mentioned. However, the proven impact on overall health and the impacts not directly related to illness or injury, such as assisting with weight loss and detoxifying the body, can benefit everyone.
This technology is not growing in popularity for no reason; the resulting health benefits from infrared therapy are something which everyone should pay attention to, whether you are looking to help a particular issue or not. This technology is also perfectly safe for children to use, as long as they are supervised at all times.
Are there any dangers of using them?
Infrared saunas are perfectly safe as long as they are used properly and that users are aware of the risks of improper use. Some things to be careful of, many of which are the case for several temperature-based therapies, include dehydration, not using the sauna after drinking alcohol, not using the sauna too soon after acute injury, checking that it is suitable to use alongside any medication you are taking, and obviously not to use the sauna for an overly long period of time.
Infrared light rays will never cause any kind of burning effect on the skin, so it is completely safe and healthy for all living things, so much so that it is used in hospitals to warm newborn infants. Any retailer of these saunas should be able to advise on how to use them properly so that the experience is beneficial and enjoyable.