Saunas heated up Finland and then spread throughout the world. Many have now embraced the idea of putting a sauna in their home. But saunas heated by traditional sauna stoves and sauna rocks are expensive and typically require professional electrical wiring.
While saunas (both infrared and otherwise) are rejuvenating and restorative, there are times when you feel worse after one. Many may ask “Why do I feel worse after an infrared sauna?”
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common causes of feeling worse after an infrared sauna. We’ll also take a look at how you can quickly get your body into shape after dealing with some of these issues.
Why Do I Feel Worse After Infrared Sauna?
There are a few potential causes for discomfort both during and after an infrared sauna, and they depend on how accustomed you are to using the sauna and how you feel before you even get started.
Here are the three most common factors that we’ll be looking at in this section:
- Heat stress
- Staying in the sauna too long or using too high of a heat level
One of the most common causes of discomfort after an infrared sauna is because you’re suffering from dehydration. Sweating is an essential part of using a sauna, and you can’t escape that you’ll be losing plenty of fluids through your sweat glands after you use your infrared sauna.
It’s how you lose weight in the sauna.
There are a few ways to determine whether you’re suffering from dehydration after your infrared sauna session. Some of the most obvious signs of dehydration include sudden thirst and dryness in your mouth. You may also notice that you’re feeling faint or dizzy, in which case you should sit down immediately.
Another easy way to tell whether you’re dehydrated due to your sauna is by looking at your urine. If you urinate less than usual or if your urine is a dark yellow color, that’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with dehydration, so take immediate steps to rectify it.
Users who are sick and suffering from fever may feel like the infrared sauna can help them feel better, but you’re actually at greater risk of dehydration when your body is compromised.
If you’re suffering from something like diarrhea, steer clear of the infrared sauna to ensure that your body doesn’t lose an excess of fluids.
Signs of severe dehydration also include sudden headaches as well as a quicker pulse and quicker breathing. If you notice any of the more serious signs and they don’t subside after drinking plenty of water, you may have to go to the hospital to ensure that you’re not dealing with acute dehydration.
Avoiding Getting Dehydrated When Using Your Infrared Sauna
The proven method of avoiding dehydration when using an infrared sauna is to simply drink more water before you use it. This is critical if you’re hitting the sauna after a workout. Of course, avoiding dehydration isn’t always as simple as this, but many people worldwide don’t get enough of their recommended daily water intake.
If you’re doing something like exercising frequently or using a sauna often, you can expect your body to lose a lot of water through sweat. People who often find themselves sweating profusely like this will have to increase their water intake to ensure that they aren’t left with too few fluids.
Keep in mind that the amount of time it takes for water to be absorbed by your body will also range between 5 and 45 minutes, so don’t think that drinking a glass of water just before your sauna will help too much.
You have to stay on top of your routine and ensure that you’re properly hydrated up to an hour before you start using your infrared sauna. The amount of time that it takes your body to absorb the water that you consume is entirely dependent on what you’ve eaten as well as your genetics.
If you’re hopping in the sauna after eating, it can take longer for the water that you’ve consumed to get to your intestines, where it will quickly start being absorbed by your body, hydrating you.
To put this in practical terms, you should drink plenty of water about 45 minutes to an hour before you use the sauna.
If you’re wondering, “Why do I feel worse after infrared sauna?”, heat stress may be the answer.
Heat stress is similar to the type of stress that your body experiences while you’re playing a sport or exercising, and it’s part of the reason why you can expect to feel better after you enjoy a long hop in the infrared sauna, whether it be a freestanding unit, a portable unit, or a sauna blanket.
When your body undergoes physical stress, it will first experience the negative effects of that stress before it starts fighting the stressors. The most common method that your body uses to fight stress caused by both heat and exercise is by releasing endorphins that will make you feel better.
These endorphins are responsible for causing that feeling of euphoria you get when you’re in the sauna and your body has been heated up.
Endorphins provide the pleasant feeling of being in the sauna, and they also increase your body’s tolerance to pain. The end result is something almost like an anesthetic.
Along with the release of these endorphins, thermal stress like that which you’ll experience in a sauna can put your body through the process of hormesis. This will increase your tolerance to the source of stress over time, ensuring that you’ll get more resistant to the sauna the next time you get inside of it.
What this means is that you can expect to have a pretty unpleasant time in the sauna until your body adjusts to deal with the extra heat.
This will happen if you’ve just started using your sauna, but it can also occur if you’ve stopped using an infrared sauna for a while and suddenly restarted.
If your body hasn’t experienced the kind of heat it can expect in a sauna for a while, then it may not be used to the extreme heat, even if you’ve used saunas for a long time. After a short adjustment period (consisting of a few separate sauna uses), your body will start to resist the heat once again and you should feel like yourself.
Another possibility is that you’re not staying in the sauna long enough to trigger your body’s endorphin release. Spending a short time in the sauna is typically not the best way to enjoy its benefits, as your body will need to go through a period of feeling worse before it will start feeling better.
This is a common issue for people who are using saunas for the first time, as they may not know how long they need to stay in the sauna to start feeling better. This is why most users will recommend using the sauna with someone who is used to it, at first.
Remember that heat stress is one of the main reasons for most of an infrared sauna’s health benefits. Studies have shown that the benefits associated with using a sauna are similar to those that you get when exercising, and that’s due to the similarities between the two types of stress.
Turning Up the Infrared Sauna too High or Staying too Long
When you use an infrared sauna, you want to be sure that you’re respecting your limits, especially if you’re a first-timer or if you’re not too used to using a sauna.
The average amount of time that someone can expect to spend in a sauna is about 15 minutes per session. If you’re staying for any longer than that, you’ll want to be sure that your body is sufficiently resistant to the heat to ensure that you don’t end up feeling worse when you step out of it.
If it’s your first time ever using a sauna, you may not even expect to reach 15 minutes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to gradually build your way up when using the sauna, you should start with five minute periods in the sauna until you gradually start to feel better. You can always hop out for a bit, and then jump back in for more.
Don’t forget about the temperature that you have your infrared sauna set at. Compared to a traditional sauna, you should have better control over the temperature levels in an infrared-style sauna, ensuring that you can gradually ramp up the temperature over time.
The typical temperature band for an infrared sauna ranges between 110 and 130 degrees F. Keep in mind that this is way lower than what you would see in traditional wood or electric sauna. However, the method of heating is different, and an infrared sauna at 130′ can subjectively feel like a traditional sauna at 180′.
If you’re a beginner, we’d recommend starting at the lower end of the temperature scale. When you feel more comfortable in the sauna and it has stopped making you feel worse after use, you can slowly increase the temperature.
If you’re not feeling well, just stop using the sauna for a while, or consider changing up your routine around using it. Be sure to hydrate agressively, and with luck, your body will acclimate to the sauna after a little while and you’ll feel better.