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Infrared Saunas: A tried and tell

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Photo by Thomas Wanhoff under CC BY-SA 2.0


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OCTOBER 12, 2022

Saunas have been beloved by people globally since almost the beginning of time, evidence tracing back to Ancient Greece and Rome, Scandinavia, East Asia, the Middle East and more. However, ever since the introduction of infrared saunas, they have proven to be a consistent craze among both celebrities and the health-conscious. Infrared saunas use infrared light (surprise) to heat the body from within rather than the air from without, as a traditional sauna does. Because of this, the saunas are able to operate at a lower temperature, making it a more comfortable experience. 

The lamp-light sauna guarantees a host of health benefits including better sleep, relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, relief from sore muscles and joint pain, clear and tighter skin, improved circulation and a myriad of other benefits that only seems to exclude immortality and eternal youth. 

However, being part of the target users (health-conscious, not a celebrity), I’ve actually been a frequent visitor of infrared saunas since summer and now at Berkeley. For the curious and skeptical, I’d like to walk you through my experience. 

Following check-in, I’m led through a calming neon hallway to the sauna by one of the employees who set the timer to 30 minutes and shut the curtains.  


The room is small and moody, with a relaxing hum of music in the background. The setup is perfect for relaxing with an array of robes, essential oil spritz, water jug, and neon lights for your control. I always opt for purple. 

Once you step inside the sauna room, it feels like entering an entirely new world. For the next 30 minutes, the outside noise is entirely muted and you are alone in the 150 degrees Fahrenheit cube. 

The first five minutes 

This is perhaps the most pleasant part of the experience. After facing the cold Bay Area wind and conundrum of sounds all week, the silent warmth makes you think, I can do this forever. You can feel your body relaxing and thoughts slowing down, letting you take a much-needed break. 

The next five minutes 

This is when the sweating begins. You start to feel the droplets of sweat trickling from your forehead and then realize that your entire body is covered in sweat in a matter of seconds. Kinda weird but also neat. After all, this is the whole point. 

The next 10 minutes 

It does start to get a little too hot. The minutes start slowing down and you start to wonder if time has been slowing down. I usually lie down at this point to stop myself from looking at the time every three seconds. The tiny seating area doesn’t make that process easy, and I don’t think lying down would be possible for anyone over 5’4.” But, slowly melting in the heat with my mind wandering, I enter a new state of relaxation. It really feels like I’m in a separate dimension where the only thing to do is to let it all go. Weirdly enough, I often find myself coming up with random ideas (a lot like shower thoughts) or getting the answer to various problems I’ve been sorting through. Example: this blog post itself. 

The next five minutes 

I’m still lying down but starting to get antsy. I’ve got my ideas and answers and feel perfectly ready to take a shower. Plus, the concerns of fainting from dehydration while not wearing clothes loom over. I’m inclined to get a cup of water but I don’t trust myself to come back in after leaving so I stay inside. I again close my eyes and enjoy the complete relaxation of both my body and mind. 

The final five 

Time has officially gone frozen. It has been stuck on four minutes for two hours and I’m actually contemplating the possibility of being in another dimension. My body is covered in sweat and my body is heavy. I would love to chug a gallon of water and breathe air that isn’t three digits. But, stubbornness being both my greatest virtue and flaw, I stay. After all, I only have three more minutes until I have to brave reality again. 

Once I exit the sauna, I immediately forget the painstaking heat and I’m met with a certain sense of euphoria. It’s similar to the endorphin rush you get after working out (after all, my heart rate had been increased for half an hour). The bus ride back is a bit uncomfortable, being sticky and all, but once I shower and sit down at my desk, the feeling of level-headedness persists. I get some work done, journal, plan for the next day and fall asleep quite easily. And the morning after, I do find my workout soreness nowhere to be felt. 

Echoing all “I tried______” testimonials, is the supposed host of life-changing benefits true? Probably not. The professional analyses and lack of reliable evidence, which I couldn’t help myself to dig for, make it difficult to believe its many claims. However, my personal opinions are only positive. I enjoy the experience of much-needed personal time, the relaxation, euphoria and the immediate short-term effects on my body (which may one day be long-term). Moreover, I value having a space and routine that I know I enjoy. Oh, and the cool neon lights. 

Contact Haera Shin at 


OCTOBER 12, 2022