woman laying down in sauna

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October 13, 2022 — 10:01 AM

Sometimes what feels good turns out to be good for you, too—take massages, walks on the beach, and enjoying a delicious smoothie, for example. All of these things may feel like a splurge, but they simultaneously benefit your health, so why not indulge?

Saunas are no exception. On the mindbodygreen podcast, both neurologist Dale Bredesen, M.D., author of The End of Alzheimer’s, and energy specialist Ari Whitten, author of Eat for Energy, sing the praises of the mighty sauna—here’s why you might want to consider booking a session, if you’re able:

1. Brain health support. 

Saunas have been linked to some pretty impressive benefits, especially for the brain. “There was a very famous study out of Finland a few years ago showing that as people increased their sauna use per week from one or two to six, they decreased their risk for developing dementia,” Bredesen says on the show.

One small study even found that participants experienced an increase in melatonin production and better sleep quality following infrared light therapy (infrared sauna, anyone?). And as you likely know by now: Quality sleep is essential for brain health.

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“The research on sauna use is just mind-blowing,” Whitten says during his interview. Specifically, one study shows that participants who stayed in a 140-degree Fahrenheit sauna for 15 minutes five times a week reported significantly increased energy levels, as well as a calmer, more positive mood.

“The more you do it and the longer you do it, the more benefits you get,” Whitten adds. So if you can squeeze in four to seven sessions per week, studies show you may reap even more benefits than if you stick to two or three. That being said, go with whatever feels best for your lifestyle and budget.

More energy and better sleep are two worthy reasons to tap any sauna you have available. But longevity? That might be the most shocking benefit yet. PSA: Research has shown that sauna bathing four to seven times per week enhanced longevity by 40%. In that same study, sauna bathing two to three times per week was associated with a 23% increase in longevity, again showing that a higher frequency may help you reap more benefits.

One study even found potential skin benefits for regular sauna users. More specifically, researchers noted a decrease in sebum production, an increase in skin hydration, and more regulated skin pH levels in participants who frequently visited a sauna.

If you needed an excuse to spend some extra time in the sauna, well, now you have four. While this practice may seem like an indulgent activity, it actually has some pretty impressive health benefits that make it well worth the time and commitment. If you’re ready to invest in an at-home sauna, check out this guide for the best picks.


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