Saunas have long been thought of as an ancient Finnish device used to purify and heal the body. However, historians are now finding that similar models have been found across the world from around the same time, calling into question exactly who invented the sauna and where it originated. What we do know is that the first saunas are over 2000 years old making them one of the most ancient devices still in use today.
Ancient saunas were caves covered in animal skins and filled with hot stones while a fire was lit inside. The fire and smoke would purify the air, and the rocks would retain the heat and continue to warm the room even after the fire was extinguished. People would then come in to breathe in the air and gather in the warmth.
While we have of course moved on since then, it’s still reasonably surprising how the science and the principle of the sauna remains unchanged. Of course, we now have technical advancements (we no longer use animal skins), but we are repeating the actions of our ancestors in hope for the same benefits. Infrared saunas are the next stage in this development, and through them, we see some real changes from the traditional sauna.
Most of us have used a sauna before, but we may not be familiar with how they function. Modern saunas work using hot rocks or a stove to warm the air in a small, contained room. Generally, it is allowed to get between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius with moisture being added to create steam. People will sit in these rooms, breathe in the air and sweat, hoping to enjoy some of the health benefits associated with using them.
The principles of infrared saunas are necessarily the same; it’s all about the heat and sweat. However, there are some key differences between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna that make the experience slightly different:
Perhaps the most noticeable difference for infrared saunas is the dry heat. In ordinary saunas, moisture is used to create a mist or fog of warm air. Infrared saunas don’t use this moisture and instead heat you directly.
With the lack of moisture in the air infrared saunas can get too much higher temperatures. While an ordinary sauna might get up to 40 degrees Celsius an infrared could get up to 80 degrees. The heat will go directly into your body and not around you, meaning you can higher feel the benefits of this heat.
The technique used to heat infrared saunas is more efficient. Each use will take less power so if you’re planning to fit one in your home then that could mean significant savings in the long run.
Overall infrared saunas offer a more intense experience to the user. The infrared heating technique offers more direct heat to your body, in theory giving more of the associated benefits than a traditional sauna. It’s also able to get hotter for longer without the moisture in the air, and it’s this fundamental difference that is leading people to believe that infrared saunas offer a better all-around experience than the traditional alternative.
Health Benefits Of Infrared Saunas
Infrared saunas are associated with a range of health benefits if you use them regularly. These include:
When we think of stress relief, our mind naturally goes to saunas and spas. What most people don’t realize is that there’s a lot of science to back it up. An infrared sauna has been shown to decrease levels of cortisone in your body. A chemical linked to stress, and this ultimately has led to people feeling happy.
While traditional saunas have been linked to weight loss, infrared saunas take this up a notch. The high temperatures help increase your core temperature which in turn makes your body work harder to keep you fresh. It burns a lot of calories and can lead to significant weight loss from prolonged use.
Infrared saunas have been linked to promoting better and more restful sleep. The quiet of the room, along with the intense heat helps relax the body and as you leave the cooling down, period helps lull you into a restful state ready for sleep.
Infrared saunas have been shown to alleviate the symptoms for those who suffer from chronic conditions. Which means less ongoing pain and, with prolonged use, there have been cases of the heat boosting circulation and the immune system. On top of this, if used after exercise infrared saunas have been shown to help in the recovery process for sore and injured muscles.
The heat from the infrared sauna opens up the pores all over the body as you sweat. The sweat produced helps clear your body of harmful toxins and dirt which has built up in daily life, leaving you with more precise and fresher skin.
Tips for Using Saunas
There’s a lot of reasons for using saunas, and infrared saunas offer some great benefits to your health and wellbeing. If you’re looking to get the most out of your sauna time then you should bear the following in mind:
Don’t eat a large meal before entering. If you do, you’ll find that your body is focused on digestion and your blood will be focused on one specific part of your body. Saunas are all about encouraging circulation and eating a large meal beforehand could disrupt that.
Stay hydrated. Infrared saunas can get very hot, and it’s a dry heat. The idea of the sauna isn’t to completely dehydrate you so make sure you have plenty of water before and after. Don’t be afraid to take a bottle of water in with you too.
Use meditation. The sauna offers some excellent health benefits to your body, but if you incorporate meditation, then you’ll be able to do some good work for your mind too. For a full body, the experience looks at some meditation techniques to use in the dark controlled space.
Be safe. Saunas are not about pushing your limits too far. If you start to feel less than 100%, you should look to get out of there as quickly as possible. Using a sauna in small concentrated doses can be more effective than long sessions and puts less strain on your body.
Overall, make sure you enjoy it. Infrared saunas offer a chance to relax and heal your mind and body with some great health benefits. Learn to enjoy your time in there and make the most from your sauna experience.