Sauna bathing in different forms has been used for social, health, hygiene, and spiritual purposes for centuries. Infrared (FIR) saunas contain heating elements heated between 300 and 400° C and emit infrared energy directly heating the body. Heating is usually faster than in traditional steam saunas.
Sauna therapy, also known as thermal therapy, has numerous benefits for the whole body, including mental health. In recent years, saunas have been used to improve mental health in healthy people and people with different health conditions.
This article will cover the ways infrared saunas can benefit mental health.
Benefits of Infrared Saunas To Mental Health
Infrared saunas increase relaxation and reduce stress.
FIR saunas have been found to normalize heart rates and blood pressure, reducing stress. Saunas have also been noted to induce psychosomatic (mind and body) relaxation while acting as an antidepressant.
FIR saunas have been found to increase the production of natural antidepressants such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Due to the difference between infrared and traditional saunas, the term “Waon therapy” was created in 2007 to designate an FIR sauna used for medical purposes. A scientific study showed that a sauna could treat mildly depressed patients who may not require medical intervention.
The researchers noted that sauna treatment five times a week for a month significantly reduced depression and fatigue while boosting appetite and relaxation.
Another study dealing with diabetic patients noted that infrared sauna treatments improved patients’ quality of life, including mental health, through stress reduction and alleviation of pain.
Infrared saunas can be used for pain relief.
Chronic pain can quickly induce depression, especially when painkillers are not suitable. Sitting in an infrared sauna releases endorphins or ‘feel-good’ hormones that naturally alleviate pain anywhere in the body.
A scientific study found that saunas reduced chronic pain in over 27% of their participants, allowing them to return to their everyday lives faster than those who failed to use saunas.
The heat from the heating elements penetrates the body and muscles, reducing inflammation and relieving joint and muscle pain, particularly in individuals with conditions such as arthritis.
Saunas have numerous sleep benefits.
Sleep plays a vital role in mental health; therefore, improving sleeping patterns directly boosts mental health. Research has shown that FIR sauna can be used to treat patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Regular visits to the sauna can alleviate the symptoms of these disorders, improving mental health. FIR saunas can also be used to treat sleep disorders by increasing peripheral blood circulation and triggering sleeping-inducing hormones
Sauna improved cardiovascular health and blood flow
Saunas improve mental health indirectly by improving blood flow. Weekly visits to the sauna have been noted to reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, associated with poor cardiovascular health, anxiety, and depression.
Stress hormone levels have been noted to reduce with improved blood flow associated with heat exposure temporarily. Frequently visiting the sauna can lead to long-term reduction of cortisol, reducing anxiety and depression.
Frequenting infrared saunas can improve brain function
FIR sauna improves blood circulation throughout the whole body. Improved blood circulation means the brain also gains improved blood flow boosting its function. People who frequent saunas have been noted to have improved mental alertness and problem-solving ability compared to those who rarely frequent saunas.
To support this, scientists noted that lab mice exposed to FIR saunas showed reduced signs of memory impairment, suggesting that it had memory-enhancing and antioxidant potential. Similarly, people leave the sauna feeling relaxed, improving their critical thinking.
Frequenting sauna visits allow socializing.
Regularly visiting the sauna also creates the opportunity to socialize with other people. One study noted that visiting the sauna allowed individuals to catch up with friends, indirectly improving their mental health.
Engaging in social activities helps eliminate feelings of anxiety and isolation. Visiting the sauna and engaging with other people will significantly improve mental health.
The sauna can improve general body health.
Aside from the direct benefits on mental health. An infrared sauna also has numerous benefits for general body health, improving the quality of life and indirectly improving mental health. Regular use of the sauna has been found to have positive effects on cardiovascular diseases such as peripheral arterial disease and heart failure. It improves cardiovascular function and reduces oxidative stress, significantly improving the quality of life.
Additionally, normal heat stress from saunas increases the heart rate, similar to how exercise increases it. Increased heart rate is associated with the same benefits as exercising, such as increased secretion of feel-good hormones and reduced stress hormones.
A journal showed that four 30-minute sessions every week for three months significantly improved mood and self-image, boosting confidence. Additionally, the participants recorded improved quality of life and ability to adapt to daily stressors.
Potential adverse effects of infrared saunas
Despite the benefits of FIR sauna, overuse may be associated with a few adverse side effects. Some common side effects are heat discomfort, low blood pressure, and light-headedness.
Scientists have been concerned with the possible adverse effects of infrared saunas on pregnant women. One paper has indicated a possible link between pregnant women and cancer in unborn babies.
Another study also found that men regularly visiting the sauna had reduced sperm count, reducing their chances of bearing children. However, all side effects are reversible after leaving the sauna.
Improve your mental health with an infrared sauna
Infrared saunas are associated with improved mood, reduced depression and anxiety, and enhanced brain function and memory retention. Indirectly, saunas can improve mental health by reducing pain and improving quality of life.
One must visit the sauna several times a week to gain the benefits of infrared saunas. You will notice an improvement not only in your mental health but also in general body health.
Please consider visiting our facility and enjoy the benefits of our infrared saunas. We have a fully-functional infrared sauna for patients battling chronic pain and mental health issues. Get in touch to learn more about our facilities and services dedicated to improving your well-being.