The After Sauna Glow: What Happens Inside The Body And Brain Post Infrared Sauna Session?
The after sauna glow is undeniable: Emerging from an infrared light experience feels as if the sun itself is glowing from within. As both the brain and body respond to the infrared light frequency, the mind resonates with clarity of thought; the skin feels taut, cleansed, and smooth, even as overall mood is sublimated into states of positivity.
So, what is actually going on inside the body and brain post infrared sauna to create these states of being?
The after sauna glow can be explained in specific scientific terms and the feelings of brilliance, elation, and clarity of thought, are in reality a direct result of a cascade of biochemical changes occurring in the body in response to broad spectrum infrared light.
The After Sauna Brain: A Closer Look
The notion that sauna users report experiencing enhanced creativity and precision of thought is no coincidence after spending time under the influence of broad-spectrum infrared light. As the body sinks into deep states of relaxation, many neurological changes begin to take place inside the brain to cause increased mental focus and clarity of mind.
In as little as a fifteen-minute infrared sauna session, circulation is improved dramatically, including a significant increase in blood flow to the brain (1). Experientially, this increased movement of blood into the brain results can result in fluid expression of intellect and focused attention, even as the body remains relaxed.
The human body is composed of about 50 trillion cells, consequently human physiology in reality is a dynamic, moving, and ever changing organism comprised of several systems or communities of like minded cells working cohesively to ensure your survival and optimal health. A closer look at the biology behind the relationship of infrared light and cellular life demonstrates a profound impact on the energy centers of each cell known as the mitochondria(2).
As infrared light penetrates beyond the initial epidermis into the soft tissues of the body, the mitochondria, the energy conversion factory of each cell, respond excitedly and begin to produce nitric acid at faster rates, which in turn is converted into oxygen. The result of increased levels of oxygen in the bloodstream causes improved circulation of oxygen rich blood.
The author of Research Gate’s article: ‘The Alignment Of Infrared Therapy’, Michael Hamlin states the following regarding conditions, and diseases of both the brain and body that positively respond to the infrared light spectrum:
“There are a large number of studies in the scientific literature, mostly referring to the use of FIR, that demonstrate their beneficial use or protective and/or improvement effects in the complementary treatment of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), autoimmune disorders, skin problems, such as vesicular eruptive disease of Herpes Simplex Labialis (HSL) and bacterial infections, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases ,chronic health illness , such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. In addition, it has been reported that IR rays can alleviate depression and insomnia and they have an antitumor action.”
You may wonder how one light spectrum can affect so many conditions. When the physical body is viewed as a dynamic community of cells, it becomes clear that healthy cells and a vibrant intracellular environment positively impacts tissues, organ function, and system mechanism, all of which constitute human physiology. Therefore, as cells become healthier in response to infrared light, whether they are cells within the toes, or the brain, ultimately contribute to a healthy physical expression for the entire body.
In addition to the light frequency itself of the infrared spectrum, while in a sauna, internal temperatures of the body rise to begin to produce heat shock proteins. These fierce ‘protein chaperones’ help to organize proteins, and escort them through intracellular space. Essentially creating a healthy environment in the fluid between cells (3).
The increased production of heat shock proteins directly affects the process of neurogenesis: The creation of new brain cells. Intentional and monitored thermal therapy promotes neurotrophic factors that support the growth and development of neurons within the central nervous system(4).
As the brain is replenished with new neurons through neurogenesis, focused attention and heightened intellectual function comes with great ease. After the sauna experience, users will ‘feel’ a profound shift in intellectual activity, including precision and ease of thought flow.
Is it possible that regular infrared sauna use can positively impact those suffering with brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)?
The formation of new brain cells during and after the infrared sauna session allows for an already healthy brain to function at higher levels, the same is also true of individuals suffering from brain degenerative diseases.
The devastating effects of brain degenerative diseases for both patients and their families are unprecedented in hardship. The exposure to heat during infrared sauna sessions fosters neurological repair, augmented neurogenesis, and increased oxygen rich blood circulation to the brain centers (5).
For more information on the benefits of infrared light therapy and neurodegenerative diseases please read:
Infrared Sauna Therapy And The Autonomic Nervous System: From Fight Or Flight To Relaxation
The autonomic nervous system has two primary branches: The sympathetic division (fight or flight/survival/stress response) and the parasympathetic division (relaxation/rejuvenation/regeneration). The engagement of either branch neutralizes the other. This is significant because the body must be in one or the other to create balance. If we can imagine that the autonomic nervous system is a vehicle: Sympathetic dominance is equivalent to pressing the gas to create forward momentum, and parasympathetic dominance is like breaking for an oil change and tune up(6).
It is necessary to ‘break’, or relax in order for the body to re-direct energy inward toward healing and growth, as this occurs it is necessary that the autonomic nervous system release the ‘gas pedal’ completely for optimal results.
Why is parasympathetic dominance important?
It is necessary for the health and survival of the human organism to be able to slip easily out of states of survival back into states of relaxation, because it is only in relaxation that the body can begin to repair itself, and positively induce cellular replication. When the body stays in survival over extended periods of time, eventually disease ensues, as the natural healing mechanisms of the body are not able to engage fully.
To actualize homeostasis and health of the body it is necessary to find a means or tools that enable the effortless transference of the autonomic nervous system out of states of stress response back into states of relaxation where cellular healing and regeneration can occur. Exposure to the broad spectrum of infrared light enables the return back to parasympathetic dominance.
With regular continued use of infrared sauna therapy the result is the habitual engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system to heal the body and regain balance.
While in sympathetic dominance, thought process is (by necessity) more narrow as the human organism attempts to ensure its survival; all focused attention is directed outward to potential threat. On the contrary, states of relaxation foster creativity, as the body and mind feel secure in their environment and thus not anticipating external threat. No longer merely surviving, the brain fires neurons in many directions increasing creative thoughts. Creative outside-the-box thinking enables success and growth in all areas of life: Business, academic, parenting, artistic, financial, self-development, and meditation to name but a few.
The Body And Broad Spectrum Infrared Light
· Reduced Risk Of Type II Diabetes
· Increase Lean Muscle Mass
· Fat Tissue Reduction
· Increase Immune Response
Increased Insulin Sensitivity – Engage The Cardiovascular System
Insulin sensitivity is a necessary requirement in the treatment of Type II diabetes, as well as for reducing the risk of its development. Clinically significant data suggests that heat therapy and particularly infrared sauna therapy may help patients with impaired insulin sensitivity(7).
Time spent in an infrared sauna positively affects the cardiovascular system, by increasing circulation, ultimately the act of sitting under the contained rays of infrared light is a kin to both aerobic and anaerobic exercise without drawing the autonomic nervous system into states of stress response, as is the case within many forms of aerobic activity.
Infrared sauna therapy is an excellent means of inducing a powerful cardiovascular response for individuals unable to participate in traditional forms of exercise such as jogging, bicycle riding, or even walking. The benefits of these forms of exercise can be reaped through the process of sauna therapy.
Increase Lean Muscle Mass
Muscle recovery occurs at faster rates for a variety of reasons with exposure to infrared light. Firstly, the transference out of states of stress response back into relaxation, allows muscular repair to occur with greater speed, while simultaneously increasing Human Growth Hormones. This means that recovering from active forms of exercise, where muscle fibers are broken down, happens with less time(8).
Human Growth Hormones are anabolic hormones that both increase lean muscle mass and decrease fatty tissue; the effect of these changes creates a leaner, more sculpted physical form free from unwanted fatty tissue.
Capitalize on the body’s largest organ: the skin. Potentially increase your body’s ability to detoxify from potentially harmful substances and heavy metals, including cadmium, mercury, nicotine, alcohol, lead, lactic acid, and many more(9). By increasing the body’s core temperature, the skin pores begin to release copious amounts of perspiration. Through this intense sweating, the body begins to easily rid itself of harmful substances, relieving strain on the internal organs.
Increase Immune Response
Lingering infections within the body can begin to deplete its immune response. An infrared sauna session increases internal temperatures of the body to induce an artificial fever. Fevers are the body’s natural mechanism to fight against infection. The activation of this fever response may allow the body to rid itself of infectious permeations that slowly degrade immunity. Actively choosing to create a ‘false’ fever by engaging in infrared sauna therapy may rid the body of infection, and amplify immune response(11).
Research in the field of biomedicine supports the health benefits to both the brain and body with regular infrared sauna use.
The after sauna glow is the natural experiential value correlated to the profound cellular transformation that occurs throughout all systems of the body. The after effects of an infrared sauna session can leave us with a sharp mind, quick wit, healthy cell production and great creative expansion.
If you are interested in learning more, wish to read directly from scientific and medical journals where the original studies that support this article are published, please click on the links below.
Other Relevant Sources: