It’s that awful time of year: holidays festivities are over, there are still months of winter before summer starts peeking over the horizon, and we’re left to face the damage we’ve been doing to ourselves since the Halloween candy first arrived. But we’ve found the perfect antidote to the deep-winter blahs that’ll warm you up, chill you out, perk up your brain, and seriously boost your spring detox plans: infrared sauna.
How does infrared sauna work?
While a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body, IR sauna uses light to warm your body directly, rather than roasting you in hot air. The in-sauna temperature clocks in at 100–150° F as opposed to hot-rock or steam saunas which can climb as high as 200°. You’ll sweat alright, but rather than feeling stifled by the heat, the sensation is more like lying in the warm sun and feeling it warm you to your core. Sounds like a vacation already.
What are the benefits?
Research on on IR saunas is limited but compelling. One 10-person study found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome benefited from it as part of an overall treatment, along with sufferers of high blood pressure. Another 10-person study found that IR helped decrease muscle soreness and increase recovery from strength-training.
The anecdotal evidence is exuberant. Wide reports from skeptics and devotees alike include improved sleep and relaxation, relief from arthritic joint pain, glowing skin, and increased mental clarity and alertness. This may be due to the boosted circulation caused by amping up your body temp and heart rate—just like with exercise. This delivers numerous benefits, including enhanced immune function, improved athletic performance, boosted collagen production, and more.
If that’s not enough to draw you in, some of the newest IR sauna spots set you up in private rooms with features like phone charging stations, iPads, curated music, and prismatic lighting you can configure to your tastes.
Are there any risks?
Infrared is safe for most people, with no reports of negative effects, though standard sauna precautions apply—including steering clear if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have a heart condition or diabetes, to name a few. If in doubt, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.
Where do I find this magical experience?
LA’s glitterati worship in the temple of HotBox Sauna Studio, while HigherDOSE—who makes the uniquely appealing pitch that you can “get high naturally” in their saunas—has 11 locations across NYC, CT, and NJ. For the truly committed, Sunlighten builds custom IR saunas you can have right in your home.