Hitting up the infrared sauna has become one of my favorite parts of my self-care routine. After hearing about it plenty of times—and even writing about it being one of New York City’s hottest (literally) new date spots!—I decided I should probably give it a try. And now that I have, let’s just say I’m hooked. (Sorry, bank account.)
Here’s everything you should know about infrared saunas and their science-backed benefits.
What’s an infrared sauna—and how’s it different than regular saunas?
When I tell people about infrared saunas, they often say, “Oh, yeah—my gym has one of those.” But this isn’t a regular sauna. It’s a cool sauna. Unlike traditional saunas which simply heat up the air around you to make you sweat, this variety uses infrared light to turn up the temperature, heating your body from the inside out.
While some saunas have fancy lighting, infrared light is actually invisible, so it’s 100% safe for you to use: it deeply penetrates your skin without causing any damage like regular light would. In fact, get this: it’s so harmless that it’s used to keep newborn babies warm in hospitals.
What do infrared saunas feel like?
Unlike traditional saunas where the air is usually so hot and dry that it can be hard to breathe, infrared saunas are warm but not at all uncomfortable. Don’t worry, though: you get all the same perks at a much lower temperature, making it perfect for people like me who don’t want to be miserable just to score some health benefits.
So far I’ve done a handful of 45-minute sessions at around 135 degrees and I’ve hardly broken a sweat. (I’ve been told that can happen at first, though—then as you start to use it more, your body starts spitting bullets like crazy.) It’s cozy, relaxing, and when it’s done, you get out wondering if it even did anything until you start feeling and seeing the immediate benefits.
What are the benefits of infrared saunas?
So, the infrared sauna feels great—but what does it actually do for your body, you ask? Past studies have shown regular use can help lower your blood pressure, improve your fitness level, reduce chronic pain, and keep your heart healthy. And that’s just the beginning.
On top of the physical health benefits, that increase in your body’s core temp can also clear up your skin and make it glow, help you relax and destress, rev up your metabolism, give you a major mood boost, help you age more gracefully, make you sleep better, and even aid in weight-loss (you can burn upward of 600 calories in just 30 minutes).
Here’s what I’ve noticed during my infrared sauna sessions so far.
I know hearing a bunch of facts can sometimes sound like mumbo-jumbo, so I’ll leave you with what I’ve personally experienced so far on top of the science.
Amazing skin: Every time I’ve used the infrared sauna, I’ve left with rosy cheeks and completely glowing skin. Any zits I had went down in size and disappeared within a day or two. And the first time I went in, I was having an allergic reaction to a new laundry detergent with a bumpy rash across my chest and stomach (#sensitiveskinproblems!), but within 24 hours, it was totally gone.
Insanely good sleep: One thing I didn’t expect after using the sauna was how well I would sleep. After every use, I snooze like a freakin’ baby. Usually Trixie wakes me up at least once during the night because she’s such a bed hog, but on the days I hang out in the heat, I’m out cold and there’s nothing that’s going to disrupt my deep slumber.
Mood boost + decreased stress/anxiety: If you’re having a bad day, go sit in the infrared sauna. By the time I’m done, I feel like a new person: I’m relaxed, happy, and all my worries have completely vanished. (As a chronic worrier, that’s kind of a big deal.) It’s also great for anxiety and completely calms down my nerves.
I’ve been going once a week and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. If you’ve tried out an infrared sauna, let me know about your experience down in the comments!