“You have your own SAUNA?” people ask, with surprise and disbelief. Yes, we do, and see? Here I am, in the sauna. It’s right here, tucked in a corner of our master bedroom.
I’m still a little surprised that more people don’t own saunas. It’s really not that big of a deal. And especially in Southern California, where people are OBSESSED with cleansing, detoxing, staying fit, eating the right clean foods and taking the right vitamins. Not to mention all the expensive treatments we do to maintain a youthful appearance, the yoga classes we take, our guided meditations, our wellness endeavors, our kombucha, our ginger and turmeric root. Let’s face it…we spend a lot of time, effort and some serious coin on looking and feeling healthy.
So why aren’t more people getting saunas?
Sweating has long been used as a therapy. According to Harvard Health Publications, the Mayans used “sweat houses” 3,000 years ago. In Finland, saunas have been used for thousands of years, and 1 out of 3 Fins still use them today.
One of my best friends, Brie, just so happens to own a top sauna company, and she is the reason we own a sauna today. She and her husband Fred have been in the sauna business for 12 years (as the second largest infrared sauna manufacturer in the nation for 10 years) and they know their stuff.
“A lot of people think of a sauna as a warm way to relax, but what many people don’t know is there are many health benefits to sitting in an infrared sauna,” says Brie Abawi, co-owner of InfraSculpt Saunas, headquartered in La Jolla.
But…I’ll admit it. When my husband bought our sauna five years ago from Brie, I thought it was a wee bit frivolous. Shouldn’t we be…like…putting that money in our kids 529 plan or something? I mean, it’s not like saunas are cheap.
But now that we have our sauna, I am absolutely OBSESSED with it, and can’t imagine life without it. Yet there is still SO much mystery when it comes to owning your personal sauna! I thought it would be helpful to shine some light on the benefits of personal sauna ownership.
So, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Questions People Ask Me About Owning a Sauna. (Along with my answers, of course, as well as some expert opinions.)
1.You have a sauna! Do you actually USE it? Yes. I use it all the time. Probably four to five times a week, minimum. I like to use it after my bath, before I get into bed.
2.How hot does it get? And how long do you stay in there? I set it to about 124-126 degrees. It’s a dry sauna, so there’s no steam. It just gets really hot. It’s an infrared sauna which uses heat and light to help relax and detox the body. I stay in there about 20-30 minutes, enough to get a really good sweat on.
3. That’s so hot. Do you feel like you’re going to die? At first it was intense and I had to really zone out with an engaging book, or get on social media. Now, the heat doesn’t bother me at all and I use it as a time of quiet meditation (except when I feel like reading.) And I bring a huge cup of water in there with me so I am constantly rehydrating as I sweat.
4. What benefits do you feel from using the sauna? Does it really help you detox? Oh my gosh, yes. It makes you sweat so much and you sweat out loads of toxins from your body. If you’ve been a little naughty that day and had a couple glasses of wine, it sweats that stuff right out of you. It feels amazing to know that all that yuck is leaving your body. You almost feel reborn when you step out of the sauna. According to Brie,“Our saunas induce sweating to detox pollutants and toxins you get through your every day environment.” Studies say that deep sweating can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel and mercury…all toxins commonly absorbed from our everyday environments! No wonder I feel so much better when I get out!
5. Does the sauna help you sleep better? Yes, yes, and yes. I’m not sure if it’s because it flushes out your toxins, but I sleep like a rock after the sauna. And since I’ve had two children sleep is the HOLY GRAIL OF MY EXISTENCE and not something I treat lightly. I sleep with a mouth guard, ear plugs, eye mask and (at times) Zzquil. I am officially now a seriously troubled sleeper. But the sauna eases that.
6. Does going in the sauna help you relax and reduce stress? Totally! Especially on really busy days, it really helps me to unwind and transition to a more relaxed mind-set. According to Brie, “Infrared helps promote relaxation by balancing your body’s natural cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone.” It’s not surprising that regular users of a sauna say that stress reduction is the number one benefit.
7. Does the sauna help ease soreness or pain? Yes! I work out almost every day. I do the treadmill, elliptical and some yoga and Pilates. And I get super sore! I have scoliosis too and my body is a little wonky from that. Sadly each year I get more and more aches and pains. The sauna helps. According to Brie, “Infrared heat penetrates 1-2 inches deep into the body’s soft tissue, and increases blood circulation and oxygen flow. This allows the body to naturally heal itself, reducing inflammation and muscle pain.” It also helps speed up the healing of minor bruises and cuts, isn’t that crazy?
8. Do you think it helps your skin or appearance? Yes! It definitely clears up my skin. If I’m having a random breakout (yes, I still get those) the sauna is my first line of defense. I also have rosacea and I’ve found the sauna seems to make my skin less reactive. Heat bathing is actually one of the oldest remedies for skin problems, according to reports. “When the body begins to produce sweat, the skin is cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced. Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. This cleansing of the pores improves capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality.” Not surprisingly, many sauna users say it helps them look younger. Sold!
8. Does the sauna help you lose weight? I’m sorry, but in my opinion, this is a little silly… If you want to lose weight, you should exercise and make healthy food choices. That being said, according to the experts, “Sauna therapy is a great way for weight loss, with minimal effort. During a sauna bath, the heart rate increases substantially due to the dry heat. Scientific calibrations suggest that a 20-minute session at around 170 degrees Fahrenheit burns over 500 calories. The body’s metabolism speeds up similar to the way it does from physical exercise and is a great method to maintain weight.” Have I lost any weight from using the sauna? Not that I know of. But it does reduce my stress and helps me sleep better, which means I get a better workout in the next day!
9. Do you feel like you are healthier and get sick less often with regular sauna use? Yes. I am rarely sick anymore (or if I am, its less intense and the duration is shortened) and I think regular sauna use has something to do with it! Sauna experts say, “German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza amongst participants. As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna, it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses.” This ultimately leads to a stronger immune system. It can also relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from colds or allergies. Hooray!
10. So are you basically saying that everyone should own a sauna? In my opinion, yes! If there was one thing that can reduce stress, fight illness, ease muscle pain and soreness, promote well-being, clear up your skin, make you look younger, help you detox and help you sleep better…wouldn’t you be all over it?
But hold it…. Aren’t saunas expensive? Well, saunas aren’t cheap. The good ones will probably run you between $2,000 and $3,000. And believe me, you don’t want a cheap sauna in your house. Some mass produced saunas are known for their less-than-stellar wood and bad-quality heaters, and that’s just scary. And honestly, when I think about how much we are tempted to spend on various wellness endeavors, and the fact a sauna can last you a lifetime, it doesn’t seem like a huge expense. Its really a one-time expense, and if it help me sleep better, decrease stress and not to get sick, that’s worth it for me right there.
(And if you are worried a sauna will jack up your SDGE bill, don’t fret. It uses about as much electricity as a blow dryer.)
So what should you look for in a sauna? “Our saunas are hand-carved from all Canadian red Cedar wood, which is thick, super durable and has anti-bacterial properties,” says Brie. “All of our saunas are toxin free…we use organic based glues, and we equip our saunas with their own Ionizer to clean the air in between each session.”
The ionizer is extremely important because when you’re in the sauna, you’re sweating out toxins. The ionizer cleans the air between uses.
”We also install Japanese heaters with a life-time warranty in all of our saunas,” says Brie.
I also love that our sauna has an easy control panel, located both inside and outside, as well as a blue-tooth speaker. In addition, you can change the lighting of your sauna.
“You can set your mood with our beautiful chromotherapy lighting, also know as color light therapy,” says Brie. “With 7 different lights you’re sure to find a color that works for you. And each sauna comes with a full explanation of the benefits of each color.”
Sigh. Writing about this is making me want to hop in the sauna now. But before I go, I wanted to share something cool…or hot, if you will. If you use the code ISLANDGIRL for the purchase of a new sauna from InfraSculpt Saunas, you can get $500 off. How awesome is that?
To check out some saunas, visit their website.