Saunas and Far Infrared (FIR) light therapy


Saunas and Far Infrared (FIR) light therapy are two clinically-proven treatments that both offer a range of natural health benefits. They work well as complementary therapies and also rely on very different biological mechanisms of action to produce those marvellous health benefits.

Type of saunas?

The purpose of a sauna is to deliver enough heat to raise your body’s core temperature. This is done by either convection or with infrared wavelengths of light.

Convection Saunas:

Traditional convection-type saunas deliver heat by warming the air inside the sauna. This is the hot, steamy setting that many people picture when they think of a sauna.

Infrared Saunas:

More popular in recent years, infrared saunas don’t heat the air, but heat the objects inside the sauna room/blanket. Infrared saunas use charcoal, carbon fiber, or other types of emitting surfaces to deliver infrared heat. While many saunas are marketed as providing “full spectrum” infrared wavelengths, the vast majority of research supporting the health benefits of saunas is tied directly to the temperature, humidity, and treatment time under which your body is exposed to heat.

The most effective wavelengths, in terms of generating heat, are in the far infrared spectrum (FIR). We’ll cover this in more detail below—but in short, the purpose of all saunas, convection and infrared alike, is to deliver heat. 

What About Near Infrared Saunas?

Technically, a near infrared sauna is almost a contradiction of terms since near infrared wavelengths produce very little heat. High-quality saunas utilise far infrared, or IR-C, wavelengths that are much more effective at delivering heat. 

Health benefits of sauna?

By principle, all saunas work by inducing thermal stress on the body—but what does this really accomplish?

There are several biological responses, which include increased heart rate and perspiration. A sufficient amount of heat also affects the body’s protein metabolism process—essential in all living things. A special kind of protein—technically referred to as heat shock proteins—responds only to cellular stress caused by heat. So by inducing heat stress on the body, these special proteins become activated—which leads to some interesting health benefits that are very similar to those gained through physical exercise/workout.

For example, participants in one study sat for a 30-minute sauna treatment (at a humid 90°C) after 13 work sessions over the course of 3 weeks. At the end of the study, these participants experienced an increase of 32% in performance tests compared with those who didn’t use the sauna. [1]

While the majority of benefits from saunas are related to increased cardiovascular function, other studies have demonstrated benefits like improvement in chronic fatigue, decreased depression, and helping your body clear toxins. [2] 

Far Infrared Light Therapy Compared to Regular Saunas

The major difference between far infrared light therapy devices like Smomar and regular saunas is their mechanism of action. Saunas rely on heat to produce biological effects, whereas far infrared light therapy devices like Smomar produce almost no heat at all. Instead, our far infrared sauna blanket device delivers wavelengths of healthy light that directly permeates a person’s skin and cells, which can improve cellular function and support bodily balance [3]. To put it in simplest terms, a sauna makes you hot while a Smomar blanket feeds your body with energising light therefore heating your body from the inside-out. 

How Does Light Therapy Work: Specific wavelengths of natural light have some amazing effects on the mitochondria in our cells, helping them to produce more energy for our bodies. Instead of using heat to induce a cardiovascular stress on your body—the way saunas do—Far infrared light therapy literally feeds energy into our cells with photons from natural light.

Clinically-Proven Wavelengths: When looking at the entire light spectrum delivered by the sun, a vast majority of wavelengths, including ultraviolet (UV), are absorbed very quickly by the outer layers of the skin tissue—and felt as heat. This is why we feel warmth from sunlight, and from other sources like fire and hot coals.

But there is a narrow band of wavelengths that can penetrate human tissue much more effectively and with no harm, some of these wavelengths have a unique ability to boost cellular function and energy. A simple way to think of this process is that the photons in these wavelengths essentially charge your “cellular batteries.”

A device like the Infrared Sauna blanket is an effective therapy of light and sauna that support balance and health because the energy is delivered in wavelengths. So, as you consider your health and how to improve your fitness and function, an infrared sauna blanket has a lot to offer, and goes very well as a complimentary natural therapy.