Who doesn’t enjoy the warmth of a sauna? Plus, there’s growing evidence that spending time in a sauna has health benefits. For example, research shows that spending 10 or 15 minutes in a sauna several times a week may improve markers of heart health. For example, spending time in a sauna may lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.
If you work out, time in a sauna may help more than your aching muscles; some research finds that sauna bathing modestly improves muscle strength and power. But what if you don’t have access to one? Unlike Finland, where people sauna most days of the week, most people in Western countries don’t have a home sauna.
Some saunas use steam and are like steam rooms with high humidity and a relatively low temperature, while wood-burning saunas heat rocks, creating a high temperature with low humidity. But there’s another type of sauna growing in popularity and it’s an infrared sauna. This type of sauna uses light waves to heat your body without warming up the surrounding air.
You might not have a sauna in your home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the warmth and health benefits that a sauna offers. There’s a new tool on the market that people just can’t seem to get enough of? It’s a sauna blanket, and it’s designed to offer relaxing warmth and potential health benefits too.
What Is a Sauna Blanket?
A sauna blanket is a coverlet that releases infrared rays, low energy rays that heat your body without increasing the temperature of the air around you. In fact, sauna blankets are like a blanket version of an infrared sauna and should theoretically offer some of the same benefits.
You may have read that these blankets provide various health properties from detoxing the body to offering mental health benefits. Some people also claim they help with weight loss, but most of the weight loss you get from a sauna is loss of water from sweating. However, these benefits are extrapolated from studies of infrared saunas, and it’s not clear whether sauna blankets have the same health perks that a standard sauna offers.
Despite their reported health benefits, there are few studies to confirm or dispute claims that these blankets “detox” or cure any health problem. But the infrared rays they emit may be beneficial for health conditions like arthritis or lower back pain because their heat soothes muscles and joints. After a rigorous workout, spending time with a sauna blanket may help with recovery.
How Sauna Blankets Work
When you wrap a sauna blanket around you like a sleeping bag, the blanket releases infrared rays that heat your body. However, the heating is limited to areas that contact your body. It won’t warm up the room or the air that surrounds you. You can use one lying on a bed or mat or sitting in a chair. Sauna blankets are lightweight and easy to use.
What are the possible health benefits? Some research finds that exposing your body to heat, as with a sauna blanket, may lower blood pressure and has benefits for heart health. If you do any type of exercise, especially the strenuous type, placing a sauna blanket on your sore muscles after a workout also helps ease muscle soreness. To get the benefits, 15 minutes at a time is sufficient. You don’t want to overheat, and should ensure you stay well-hydrated before, during, and after using a sauna blanket.
Choosing a Sauna Blanket
Sauna blankets are usually made from natural fabric, like terry cloth, or a type of cotton that is also thin enough to be flexible. Some may also be made from rayon, which is a popular material for bed sheets. Some sauna blankets are coated with water and fireproof materials. Most have adjustable heat settings and a timer, so you can know how long you’ve been using it.
When using a sauna blanket, wear loose cotton clothing to soak up your sweat or lay a cotton towel inside the blanket before you lie down on it. The last thing you want is dried sweat on your sauna blanket. Keep your sauna blanket clean, since dirt and germs can build up on it over time. If you use it frequently, you’ll need to wash it at least once every couple of months.
Safety Tips for Sauna Blankets
Are sauna blankets safe? For people who are not used to heat, using a sauna blanket can be a bit overwhelming at first. That’s why it’s best to start with one of the lower temperature settings and work your way up as your body adapts to the blanket. With most sauna blankets, you can start as low as 80 degrees F. up to 160 degrees F.
Start by simply lying on it and getting used to the heat, before turning it on and advancing the settings. It’s also a good idea not to use it on sensitive areas like the chest, abdomen, or the joints in your knees and shoulders. It may even be unsafe for pregnant women to use a sauna blanket, so if you fall into that category, you should avoid it altogether.
But for many, sauna blankets are an excellent way to take some time out of your busy day to relax and unwind. They may also be beneficial if you have achy muscles (DOMs) related to working out. Whether sauna blankets have the same health benefits as a sauna you sit in is unclear, but the warmth is beneficial for achy muscles and joints, and you don’t need an expensive sauna in your home to enjoy its perks.
- “What Does an Infrared Sauna Blanket Do and Why You Should ….” newsweek.com/amplify/what-can-infrared-sauna-blanket-do-why-you-should-invest-one.
- “Scientists uncover why sauna bathing is good for your health.” 05 Jan. 2018, sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180105124005.htm.
- “Should You Buy an Infrared Sauna Blanket? | Shape.” 12 Oct. 2020, shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/infrared-sauna-blanket.
- com. “Sauna After Workout: The Health and Weight Loss Benefits
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