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Sauna Benefits: Everything You Need to Know

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Medium shot of a Red Light Therapy tower set up inside an infrared sauna. Red Light Therapy is a method that enhances sauna benefits.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Wellis New England is whether or not Clearlight® Saunas are worth the investment. As the findings on sauna benefits become more abundant, the answer to this question is a definitive yes.

Simply put, regular infrared sauna use contributes to your physical and mental wellness in a myriad of ways. This cutting-edge technology works in tandem with your own physiological systems to help minimize so many health-related problems affecting your quality of life: muscle and joint pain, fatigue, illness, stress, and heightened toxin levels just to name a few.

It’s no wonder that at-home sauna use has grown more popular, especially in the wake of the pandemic. With sauna ownership on the rise, Wellis New England has compiled a thorough body of information on sauna benefits and functionality. Here, we offer a summary for your consideration as you look ahead to a new season with new possibilities for rejuvenation.

What is the Science Behind Sauna Use?

Heat for Your Health

What is it exactly that makes a sauna so effective for promoting your health? So much of it comes down to cellular biology. 

Our cells contain various components that help keep them healthy and functioning. When cells endure injury or illness, heat shock proteins (HSP’s) living in your cells come out from hibernation to help clean up the mess. 

In our blog, What are heat shock proteins and how do they improve wellness?, we explained that they’re nicknamed “molecular chaperones” because of how they usher the different cell parts around like a trusty road crew making repairs. When these HSP’s get to work, they start a chain reaction that stimulates the restorative effects we so often associate with sauna use (more on those later).

Sauna Types

So how do saunas generate heat and, thus, heat shock proteins? Well, it depends. In the sauna market, the first question you often hear is “Do you want a traditional sauna or an infrared sauna?” The two are named based on how they create a heated environment that makes you sweat. 

In a traditional sauna, the ambient air is heated by steam from water that is poured over a heating element inside the spa. An infrared sauna, on the other hand, uses infrared light to raise your internal core temperature. In other words, you’re heated from the inside out as opposed to the other way around.

Clearlight Saunas use infrared technology. Specifically, they operate within one or two categories of infrared heat: far infrared and full spectrum. Each corresponds to a different depth to which the infrared waves penetrate your body. Visit our blog Is a Far Infrared or Full Spectrum Sauna Best? for an in-depth description of far infrared and full spectrum wavelengths.

The Therapy of Light

Just as the heat within a sauna affects your body on a cellular level, so too does the light technology within it. In a Clearlight Sauna, for instance, you have the option to incorporate Red Light Therapy (RLT) into your sessions.

RLT works in a similar way to the infrared wavelengths described in the previous section. In this case, visible red light is emitted by a light tower which can be used within the sauna or as a stand-alone device. This light penetrates the skin approximately five millimeters deep. 

At this depth, the red light acts in a manner similar to natural sunlight. It cues the mitochondria (a.k.a. the powerhouse of the cell) to energize the cell through cellular respiration. This, in turn, intensifies the beneficial effects your sauna kickstarts.

What Are Ways a Sauna Benefits Your Overall Health?

Once the heat and light of your sauna set the inner workings of your cells in motion, a wide range of healthy processes get underway. The result is an improved mental and physical state. Listed below are two well-documented benefits of regular sauna use. You can see a more extensive list in our blog, Sauna Benefits You Never Knew About.

Pain Relief

Life, in general, improves when your body hurts less. And one of the most prevalent benefits of sauna use is pain relief. This is one of the main reasons you see saunas in gyms and sports environments. A sauna session after a strenuous physical activity does much to put your muscles and joints at ease and, thereby, accelerate your recovery.

Your blood flow increases when exposed to the heat of your sauna. When this happens, the tension in your muscles releases, and pain in your joints subsides temporarily. So the next time you finish an intense workout or a long day of yard work, think about how much quicker you can get back to it with a sauna on your side soothing the pain.

Reduced Stress

People are now more talented than ever at stressing themselves out. As this digital era advances, we feel the demands of rapid production and consumption in an effort to keep up with the times. Therefore, it’s vital we take well-researched measures to curb the stress, anxiety, and depression that make a significant impact in our day-to-day lives.

This is where saunas are particularly useful. Sauna bathing is shown to increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. These are nicknamed “feel good” hormones which stimulate a rewarding feeling of happiness and well-being. Meanwhile, the stress hormone, cortisol, is suppressed.

Consequently, you’re left with a feeling of enhanced calm and reduced stress. When your stress levels fall, your body is better able to perform on all levels. 

How Long Does It Take to Experience Sauna Benefits?

The extent to which you experience these benefits ultimately depends on your level of engagement with your sauna. You’re more likely to reap the benefits of sauna bathing when practiced regularly. However, there are a few key points to consider before you start a regimen.

First and foremost, you should always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a sauna routine. While saunas can be highly beneficial, they are still an intense environment, and you want to make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions that could compromise your health.

Second, baby steps are the key to success, especially if you’re new to sauna bathing. Start with a five- to 10-minute session and increase the duration as you become more comfortable. 

Finally, know that shorter, more regular sessions will serve you better than longer sessions. Our blog How Long to Sauna Bathe to Get Health Benefits notes that bathing in a sauna longer than 20 minutes not only doesn’t increase the health benefits, but you put yourself at risk of dehydration. Therefore, favor 15 to 20-minute sessions multiple times per week for best results.

How Will You Benefit from a Sauna?

As the examples above demonstrate, an infrared sauna offers a wide variety of benefits that can improve your physical and mental well-being. In what ways do you envision your quality of life improving through a sauna? Contact us at Wellis New England and tell us how we can help bring this therapeutic practice to your home. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about the far infrared and full spectrum Clearlight Saunas we carry.

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