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How Do They Work? The Science Behind Infrared Saunas

Everyone is talking about them, but does anyone know how they work? In the last few years, infrared saunas have become one of the biggest trends in wellness. They have received the approval of many celebrities who claim they have helped them with many issues like chronic pain management, and even weight loss. However, not many people understand the technology that is involved with infrared therapy treatment. Luckily for you, in this article you will find accurate information about the entire process.

Let's Talk Science If you want to understand infrared saunas, we must delve a bit into the science behind it. For many years, radiation has been used for medicinal means, however, not all radiation is the same and different forms of radiation have specific effects on our bodies. All forms of radiation are part of the electromagnetic spectrum and are differentiated by their wavelength. Visible light only represents a small part of the spectrum, with wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers. Some other types of radiation with shorter wavelengths include ultraviolet light that comes from the sun and x-rays that are used for imaging purposes. Infrared radiation has a longer wavelength, making it invisible to the human eye, and has many positive applications of its own; with the latest and most advanced being its inclusion in saunas [1].

Why Was Infrared Included In Saunas? Traditional saunas have been around for many years, and people all around the world enjoy its benefits for fitness and relaxation. But there are some downsides to using traditional heating methods, with the primary one being high temperatures that are reached inside of the cabins. Normally, traditional saunas have a special stove that heats the air in the room, reaching temperatures of 150-195°F. Some people have a problem handling the extremely hot air for obvious reasons. Being overall uncomfortable result in cutting sauna sessions short, thus not being able to profit from all of its benefits [2]. This problem opened the door for scientists to find new solutions and the one that showed the best results was infrared radiation. This type of radiation can penetrate the skin up to 4 centimeters and can also transfer its energy as heat. Being able to generate heat is what brought infrared into saunas virtually everywhere. In an infrared sauna, this radiation is used to heat your body without the need for heating the air around you. Because of this, the room temperature is significantly lower and much more bearable, greatly extending the length of time one would sit inside of a sauna [3].

Do Infrared Saunas Have Any Other Benefits? Infrared saunas have an incredible amount of benefits that reach far beyond just making you sweat. One of the most sought-after benefits of infrared saunas is their ability to help regulate your sleep cycle. People who use infrared saunas have reported an improvement in their sleep duration and quality. So, if you have problems with insomnia, this could be a way to manage it. Infrared therapy is also beneficial for weight loss, muscle recovery and increasing muscle mass. Including this treatment at the end of your workout can help you reach your fitness goals and reduce fatigue [4].

Improvements have been reported in patients with certain chronic diseases who underwent infrared therapy. The first and most studied one is congestive heart failure. These patients have complicated lives with many restrictions, and infrared saunas can provide some relief to their difficult condition. Other diseases include rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, both conditions that affect the bones, joints and muscles, and are common causes of chronic pain [5].

How Are Infrared Saunas Responsible For All These Benefits? Most of these health benefits are caused by the influence infrared therapy has on internally signaling pathways in cells. In layman’s terms, infrared can affect the metabolism of cells for a specific purpose, leading those cells into generating a positive outcome for your health [7].


[1] Dold Brian. (2016). "Infrared Radiation in Modern Technology.", Research Gate, April 2016,

[2] Whelan Corey (2019). "How and Why to Use a Sauna.", Healthline, 7 January 2019,

[3] Shui S, Wang X, Chiang JY, Zheng L. (2015). "Far-infrared therapy for cardiovascular, autoimmune, and other chronic health problems: A systematic review.", National Center for Biotechnological Information, October 2015,

[4] Lindberg Sara. (2018). "Is an Infrared Sauna Better Than a Traditional Sauna?"., Healthline, 29 May 2018,

[5] Tsai SR, Hamblin MR. (2017). "Biological effects and medical applications of infrared radiation.", National Center for Biotechnological Information, May 2017,

[6] Johnstone DM, Moro C, Stone J, Benabid AL, Mitrofanis J. (2016). "Turning On Lights to Stop Neurodegeneration: The Potential of Near Infrared Light Therapy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.", National Center for Biotechnological Information, 11 January 2016,

[7] Vatansever Fatma, Hamblin Michael. (2012), "Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications.", National Center for Biotechnological Information, 1 November 2012,


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