You have probably heard of infrared saunas already, but do you know about near-infrared saunas? They’re known for their ability to improve immunity, promote quicker athletic recovery, and fight inflammation, as well as a host of other potential benefits.
In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of near-infrared saunas, how they differ from far-infrared saunas, and how they help improve your overall fitness. Whether you’re looking to improve your health or just find a good relaxation tool, maybe a near-infrared sauna is just what you need.
What Is a Near Infrared Sauna?
If you’re familiar with the general infrared saunas that you can encounter on the market, the key difference that makes near-infrared saunas distinct is the type of light waves that they emit. But on the outlook, they typically possess the same mechanism and configuration as other infrared models.
For starters, you should know that a near infrared sauna uses special heat lamps that emit near-infrared light, which can penetrate the skin more deeply than any other type of infrared ray. The deep penetration allows the heat to increase your blood circulation and stimulate your body’s natural healing processes.
As with other infrared saunas like far-infrared and full-spectrum, they’re unlike traditional saunas that use water drops and hot rocks to produce the heat during your sauna session. Instead, they can heat your body directly and effectively at lower temperature points, which makes them perfect for you if you can’t tolerate high heat.
Using near-infrared saunas is typically associated with benefits like improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and enhanced skin appearance. Do keep in mind that more studies need to be done to fully explore their risks and benefits.
How Is It Different From a Far Infrared Sauna?
Both near-infrared and far-infrared saunas use light to directly increase your core temperature, with their most important point of difference being the type of light that they emit. It’s better to understand this by referring to the electromagnetic spectrum.
Near-infrared light is the closest to visible light, ranging from 700 to 2500 nanometers. They’re very small, which is why they’re able to penetrate your body more deeply than other infrared rays. Also, they’re known to penetrate deep enough to promote collagen production.
Far-infrared rays are much bigger than the first type, ranging from 3–100 μm. Their bigger size means they’re less penetrative than near-infrared, but they do target the water inside your body. This is why far-infrared saunas like the Golden Designs Maxxus "Montilemar Edition" 3-Person Infrared Sauna (pictured above) are preferred for weight loss.
Meanwhile, a combination of these two models makes a full-spectrum infrared sauna. Although these types can make you sweat profusely and gain the general benefits of using infrared saunas, their potential health benefits do vary.
Benefits of Near Infrared Saunas
What exactly do near-infrared saunas provide you aside from the general health benefits of infrared saunas? Here are 7 associated aspects where near-infrared saunas can help you.
1. Enhanced Immunity
Near-infrared light has been discovered to produce some boosting effects on the production of white blood cells. Moreover, some studies say they’re known to promote collagen growth and enzyme activity.
This works as the near-infrared light waves penetrate your body and raise your core body temperature. An illusion of fever stimulates your body to promote the production of cells and substances that will enhance your immune system.
The heat produced by a near-infrared sauna can also aid in preventing bacterial and viral infections by killing most of them, albeit there are some exceptions.
2. Faster Muscle Recovery
Near-infrared saunas make your body hot, which helps boost your blood circulation. The increased blood flow can help reduce the stiffness and pain in your sore muscles and tissues, as well as promote healing and rejuvenation in the body.
Moreover, the short near-infrared light waves are readily absorbed by your body, which may promote healing.
Especially if you’re one who never leaves the gym or does a lot of physical labor, spending your rest in a near-infrared sauna may help with your muscle recovery. Research shows that near-infrared light therapy also results in reduced muscle strength loss and improved muscle function.
Speaking of muscles, did you know that you can also practice some techniques like hot yoga and the Nordic cycle with your near-infrared sauna? Hot yoga promotes flexibility and muscle strength, while the Nordic cycle (also called the hot sauna cold plunge technique) is known to soothe muscles.
3. Fighting Inflammation
One of the most important benefits of NIR light therapy is its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. NIR light therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory molecules in the body.
On top of that, near-infrared light helps in boosting mitochondrial function, according to some studies. You should know that an increase in mitochondrial activity has been found to decrease inflammation. This aside, new research found that mitochondria secrete DNA fibers that signal your body’s immune system about inflammation-related issues.
4. Improved Skin and Enhances Wound Healing
In line with the benefits of near-infrared saunas for anti-inflammatory purposes, they may also help in healing acne. Another connected benefit is faster wound healing of near-infrared light, as found by NASA. How it works is that the light energy is absorbed by the cells, which stimulates the production of collagen, a protein that helps to repair and rebuild damaged tissue. This makes it a great treatment for injuries, cuts, and burns.
Another study on the use of near infrared light therapy has been found to enhance skin health by promoting collagen production, which helps to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. It also helps to improve skin texture and tone, and can even reduce the appearance of scars.
Hence, if you’re looking for a relaxing tool for your beauty sessions, this type of infrared sauna may be a great choice.
5. Enhances Cognitive Function
Near infrared light therapy has been found to enhance cognitive function, by promoting the growth of new neurons in the brain. This can help to improve memory and learning, and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
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6. Minimal EMF
While not necessarily a direct benefit, the low to minimal electromagnetic field emitted by near-infrared saunas helps avoid potential health issues brought about by radiation exposure. Plus, they also require lower electricity requirements, which may help save you money on utility bills.
Keep in mind that near infrared light therapy is still a relatively new field of research and more studies are needed to fully understand the scope of its benefits. However, the current research is promising and it can be a safe, non-invasive and effective way to improve overall health and well-being.
Do Near Infrared Light Therapy at Home
Near-infrared saunas help you conduct your relaxation sessions and make you sweat at more bearable temperatures. Plus, its penetrative ability may boost your immune system, help your athletic recovery, relieve inflammation, boost your skin’s appearance, and more.