Is using an infrared sauna daily smart or not? In this blog post, I’ll explain that using an infrared sauna more frequently gives you far superior health improvements and protection against disease, according to the science. And yet, not everyone should use a sauna as frequently as possible. For that reason, I’ll place the issue of sauna session frequency into context and show you how to build up to daily sessions over time.
But first, let’s explore the issue we're dealing with:
Isn’t A Daily Infrared Sauna Session Excessive?
Many people ask me whether a daily infrared sauna is excessive. To answer that question, I’ll explore the science published on this topic with you.
It turns out that tons of different studies have investigated the effects of sauna session frequency and the effects on health. A Finnish group of researchers who have tracked study participants for multiple decades is situated at the heart of this research. Most of these studies compare a low sauna frequency, such as zero or one sauna session per week, with a higher frequency. That higher frequency is usually made up of either 2-3 sessions per week and 4 or more sessions per week.
So let’s explore this groundbreaking research:
All-Cause Mortality And Heart Health
One of the landmark studies by this Finnish research group is investigating the effects of sauna session frequency on 1) your overall risk of dying; 2) blood and heart vessel health (1). Blood and heart vessel diseases make up the number one cause of mortality and cancer in many developed nations.
The study outcome?
Using the sauna four to seven times a week literally halves your risk of sudden cardiac death compared to participants who only used the sauna up to once a week. Fatal heart attacks are an example of a “sudden cardiac death”.
“All-cause mortality” was also reduced from 49.1% to 30.8% over a period of 20 years when sauna session frequency was increased from one to four sessions or more per week. All-cause mortality measures your overall risk of dying.
Decreases in all-cause mortality, in turn, are really important in medicine because it’s the ultimate statistic determining whether people are surviving longer. Longer survival, in turn, signifies improvements in health, no matter how these are realised.
In this study, the decreases in all-cause mortality and fatal cardiovascular events over a long period of time signifies that heart and blood vessel health are supported big time by spending more time in a sauna.
Yet another study by the same researchers also shows that the risk of having hypertension is linearly decreased the more frequently you use a sauna (2). Compared to one session per week, four to seven sauna sessions cut your risk of hypertension by 46%, which is incredible.
The next study of this research team confirms this overall benefit profile:
With a higher sauna session frequency, inflammation levels also decrease (3). The researchers measured one of the most important markers of inflammation in this study, called “C-reactive protein levels”.
With a sauna frequency of one session per week, C-reactive protein levels were 2.41 in study participants. With two to three sessions, that number was lowered to 2.00 and with four sessions or more per week, the number was 1.65.
Chronic inflammation lies at the basis of many chronic health conditions, such as heart and blood vessel problems, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and others. You, therefore, want to avoid having chronically elevated inflammation, and sauna sessions help lower your numbers. More quality research is needed to confirm these numbers though, but current outcomes are very promising.
There’s more though:
Mental Health And Well-Being
Surprisingly, a daily sauna habit also decreases your risk of mental health problems and cognitive decline.
For instance, compared to one sauna session per week, using the sauna four to seven times per week lowered the risk of psychosis by a whopping 77% (4). That number is extremely impressive, and even more impressive taking into account that study participants were followed over a period of almost 25 years.
The same is true for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease - more frequent sauna sessions lower your risk here (5). If you compare two to three sauna sessions per week with one session per week, risk goes down by 22%. With four to seven sessions, that risk is cut by a whopping 66% or two-thirds.
(Other research on depression risk and sauna use should interest you too, although it's not investigated by the same Finnish research group)
So, spending more time in a sauna is great for brain health. Next up:
For respiratory health, the same trend can be established once again (6; 7; 8).
Here, compared to one sauna session per week, two to three sessions cut pneumonia risk by 28%. For four to seven sessions per week, that risk was reduced by 37%. A second study confirmed this outcome and even showed that saunas were protective even if you had higher chronic inflammation levels.
A third study showed that higher sauna session frequency cut the risk of pneumonia by almost half.
Let’s put these extremely positive study outcomes into more context though:
Risk Of Other Health Conditions
Infrared saunas are not a panacea though. In some cases, disease risk is not lowered no matter how much infrared sauna daily use. The risk of getting several types of cancers does not go down with more weekly sauna sessions, for instance (9).
In relation to other conditions, such as diabetes, there is a very positive effect. Three far infrared sauna sessions per week improve both physical health and quality of life for study participants with diabetes, for instance (10). These participants with diabetes were not investigated by the Finnish researchers though but by another research group.
But, not everyone will reap the benefits if using an infrared sauna daily. Therefore, I'll have to use daily sauna use into context in the next section.
By the way, I also highly recommend checking out the eight tips we’ve gathered through the years to maximise the results you’re getting from your sauna sessions. Check out the link below to receive these tips in your e-mail box:
Reaping The Benefits Of Daily Infrared Sauna Sessions
Some of the studies I quoted above also looked at the daily infrared sauna minutes or daily sauna minutes. Here, building up to sessions of more than 20 minutes per day showed more benefits than sessions which are shooter than 20 minutes. Longer sessions thus seem better, as does a higher frequency of using a sauna within the week.
However, instead of focusing on using a sauna as long as possible as frequently as possible, or an “infrared sauna use daily for a month challenge”, it’s smarter to focus on building good habits.
So, in the short term, it’s better to focus on completing two sessions per week and gradually building up your tolerance. If you’re recovering well from these sauna sessions and you’re feeling great, you can increase the weekly frequency.
My blog post on infrared saunas and sleep quality offers some excellent insights into whether you're recovering well or not. For instance, if you're waking up refreshed, with a low resting heart rate, and have vivid dreams during your sleep, it's a sign you're recovering well.
If you're waking up groggy and you've got the inclination to sleep during the day, however, it's a sign you've not recovered well. The same is true if you don't have a desire to move or have poor motivation or have a high resting heart rate.
Hence, the daily use of infrared sauna is not a goal in itself - the health improvements you reap are. If you're generally recovering well, moving towards 4-7 sessions per week over a longer period of time is great.
If you're in poor health though, then upping your weekly sauna sessions quickly shouldn't be a goal. With poorer health due to a chronic health condition, for instance, the number of weekly sauna sessions and minutes you spend inside a sauna should be more gradual. You'll receive the maximum benefits that way without any possible sauna side effects or disadvantages.
More is thus not necessarily better! And with that being said, let's conclude:
Conclusion: Build Up Heat Tolerance For The Maximum Daily Infrared Sauna Benefits
As you can see, if you’re in good health then daily infrared sauna sessions are amazing for promoting overall health.
Daily infrared sauna benefits include a far lower risk for heart disease, mental health issues, respiratory problems, and inflammation. Also, your overall risk of dying goes down, which is great.
And, whether you’re using a traditional sauna such as a Finnish one, a far infrared sauna, or a combination of a far and near-infrared light sauna daily, if you’re in great health, the benefits are spectacular.