Infrared saunas and red light therapy are both clinically-proven treatments that offer a range of natural health benefits.
In recent years, each has become popular as an alternative method of treatment to replace traditional medications.
There are key differences between each of the types of treatment and both work well when used in unison and can be effectively combined to complement each other.
These differences do mean that the range of benefits offered by each type of treatment is different though.
With that in mind, we are going to take a closer look at both infrared saunas and red light therapy.
From how each works to the advantages it offers, we will cover everything to hopefully make it clear which is the better choice for your personal situation.
What Is Infrared Light?
Infrared light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is one of the three ways heat is transferred, the others being conduction and convection.
It is invisible to the human eye, as the wavelengths are estimated to range between 1,000 micrometres (0.04 inches) and 760 nanometres (3 inches), which makes them longer than those in our spectrum of visibility.
Infrared frequencies range from 300 gigahertz to 400 terahertz, which places them above microwaves and below visible red light on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Near Infrared Light vs Far Infrared Light
Infrared light can then be further broken down into two subcategories, near infrared and far infrared.
While they have a number of similarities and offer many of the same benefits, they are not completely the same.
The primary difference between the two is that while one prioritises using heat as a treatment, the other relies solely on light.
Near Infrared Light
Near infrared light features shorter wavelengths and is the closest of the two to visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum.
This type of infrared light does not emit any heat and is commonly used in electronic devices such as television remotes, which need to operate wirelessly.
Far Infrared Light
Far infrared light boasts longer wavelengths that are much closer to microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum.
These infrared rays emit intense heat and feature effects similar to those given off by fire or sunlight.
Benefits Of Infrared Saunas
Saunas are places that create immense heat, where people can sit for extended periods to receive therapeutic or medicinal benefits.
The majority of the benefits of saunas come as the heat relaxes both the muscles within the body as well as the central nervous system.
Traditional saunas heat the air within the sauna, using methods such as heating systems or hot water and rocks.
In contrast, infrared saunas use far infrared light, which heats the user directly.
This not only allows them to generate heat more effectively, but it also creates a more pleasant atmosphere within the sauna.
This is because traditional saunas can sometimes become stuffy and difficult to breathe in as the air heats up.
Some of the most common benefits linked to the use of infrared saunas include improved sleep and circulation, relief from sore muscles and joint pain, such as arthritis, and assistance with relaxation and treating chronic fatigue syndrome.
As a result of the improved circulation, infrared saunas can greatly enhance your heart health.
People with high blood pressure and conditions like congestive heart failure have both reported dramatic improvements in their symptoms after they began taking regular infrared saunas.
In a similar manner, lung health was also improved. Asthma sufferers reported improvements in their symptoms after they began using infrared saunas, while a reduction in the chances of patients developing pneumonia was also noted.
Additional advantages such as detoxification and improved weight loss, as well as clearer and tighter skin have also been reported.
Infrared Sauna Blankets
Those who don’t have access to an infrared sauna or who would simply prefer not to use a sauna of any kind can also look into using an alternative option known as a sauna blanket instead.
Much like a sauna, sauna blankets convey heat to the user, either through infrared technology or more traditional means, such as heated water or electricity.
This allows sauna blankets to be used by people who aren’t comfortable in a sauna, or who have health conditions prohibiting them from doing so, to achieve all of the same benefits.
While the differences between an infrared sauna blanket and a regular one are smaller than between the two types of sauna themselves, they do still exist, and need to be considered when determining which option you should look to buy.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Unlike saunas or sauna blankets, red light therapy does not achieve results by using heat.
Red light is considered to be a healthy light and certain wavelengths of red light have penetrating properties that can get int to the cells of our body.
Red light offers wave lengths close to those found in infrared light, but which are visible to the human eye. The optimal forms of red light are those with the lowest wave length, as is the case for natural light.
Red light therapy activates the mitochondria in our cells, which helps repair certain cellular functions, while enhancing enzyme activity and electron transfer.
This allows it to help various parts of our to body heal.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy Devices
The number one reason most people will turn to red light therapy is due to its ability to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Combined with its potential to help heal wounds and speed up tissue repair, this makes it a fabulous treatment for all manner of physical injuries and issues, such as tendonitis.
This function can be equally beneficial even for those who aren’t suffering from an injury, as it also improves joint health in fully functioning people as well.
As a result, anyone suffering from stiffness, joint pain, or conditions like arthritis, carpel tunnel, and temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome (TMD) can use red light therapy to achieve short term relief from their symptoms.
A lesser known benefit of red light therapy is that it can help to improve the health of your skin and hair. This occurs as the red light aids in the production of collagen, one of the most abundant forms of protein found within the human body.
By increasing the production of this protein, red light therapy will not only improve the health of your skin but can also help to treat psoriasis, reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging, and even stimulate improved hair growth in patients with alopecia.
Recent studies have even shown that red light therapy offers incredible potential benefits to the health of the brain as well.
Early tests on dementia patients show that regular red light therapy sessions on their head can improve memory, reduce anger, and help them to sleep better.
How Infrared Saunas And Red Light Therapy Work Together
Infrared saunas and red light therapy can work seamlessly together, as each treatment compliments the other.
Both are non-invasive and chemical free treatments, making them suitable for use by the vast majority of people.
With infrared saunas utilising far infrared light and red light therapy featuring waves that are extremely similar to near infrared light, combining both treatments allows you to reap all the benefits across the entire spectrum of infrared light.
While infrared saunas and red light therapy may appear to have some overlapping benefits, the treatments are used for different purposes.
You can experience great external benefits to the body from red light therapy and fabulous internal benefits from infrared saunas.
This means a combination of both therapies is perfect for optimising the treatment of your entire body, both inside and out.
The Risks Of Using Infrared Saunas Or Red Light Therapy
Despite being non invasive forms of treatment, there are still risks involved with using infrared saunas and red light therapy, as there is with anything.
While most people won’t experience any issues, as these types of therapy are largely safe, it is still important to be aware of the risks.
Risks Of Using Infrared Saunas
The risks of using an infrared sauna are virtually the same as those associated with traditional saunas.
Due to the immense temperatures used in infrared saunas, overheating, dehydration, and symptoms such as dizziness can all occur during your treatment.
In order to try and prevent any such complications from occurring, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, both before and after using the sauna, to ensure your body remains well hydrated.
Risks Of Using Red Light Therapy
The risks of using red light therapy are considered to be virtually non-existent.
The only issue to be wary of is getting the amount of red light exposure you receive correct.
Performing red light therapy sessions that are too long can lead to skin damage in extreme cases, while using too little means you are unlikely to receive any of the benefits.
This means balancing the length of your sessions correctly is paramount to achieving all of the benefits, without any issues.
Who Shouldn’t Use Infrared Saunas Or Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is generally accepted to be safe for pretty much anyone to use.
The only possible exception is people with pre-existing skin conditions, such as skin cancer, as extended exposure has been known to cause damage to the skin in rare instances.
While infrared saunas are almost equally safe, the list of people who either need to avoid using them or be slightly more cautious when doing so is a little longer.
The group that needs to exercise the most caution when using infrared saunas is people who have recently had a heart attack or who suffer from unstable angina.
Due to the way infrared saunas affect blood flow to the heart, they can cause severe complications for people with these conditions.
Men trying to conceive should also avoid using an infrared sauna, as, much like alternatives like hot tubs, they have been proven to lower sperm count.
Finally, the extreme heat present in an infrared sauna means they should be avoided by anyone suffering from dehydration, as well as those who have recently consumed alcohol or any controlled narcotics, due to the adverse reactions it may cause.
Infrared saunas and red light therapy are both fabulous, non-invasive, chemical free ways to treat a number of physical and mental conditions.
If used sensibly, each type of treatment can safely be administered to provide a number of health benefits, with very little risk attached.
Infrared saunas are the better option to encourage the healing of damaged tissues, as well as stimulate improvements in circulation and mental function.
On the other hand, red light therapy is the preferred choice for immediate pain relief and improving the health of both the hair and skin.
When used in combination, they form a fabulous routine that offers benefits to your all-round health and wellbeing.
Provided you aren’t on the very short list of people who shouldn’t use one of the two, there is no reason not to see how either or both of these treatments could improve your quality of life, even if you aren’t currently dealing with any particular injuries or conditions.