Why Do You Feel Worse After an Infrared Sauna? (Science-Based Facts)

Most of us use the sauna in order to sweat out toxins, burn calories, relax and have a pleasant overall experience. But for some people using the infrared sauna causes low blood pressure, flu-like symptoms, dehydration, sore muscles, and stomach ache. So while there are many advantages of using the infrared sauna, there are a few downsides too. 

In this article, you will learn why do you feel worse after using an infrared sauna and how to reduce the discomfort in your next infrared sauna session. Let’s dive in.

Why Do You Feel Worse After Using an Infrared Sauna?

The main reason you feel worse after using an infrared sauna is dehydration. Your body is unaccustomed to the infrared heat and that leads to severe dehydration. That said, some other less common reasons include perhaps you stayed too long at the sauna, or the temperature is set too high or it could even be an underlying health condition, among other things. 

In this section, we are going to take a detailed look at all these reasons and more:

infrared panels heat body directly
Infrared panels inside a sauna
(Image source: Tim Sullivan on StockSnap)

1. Body is Unaccustomed to Infrared Heat

First-time users feel bad after using an infrared sauna because they are unaccustomed to tolerating infrared heat. You may have been using traditional saunas or steam saunas all your life but infrared heat is different. A traditional sauna heats the air around you, but in an infrared sauna, infrared lights penetrate your skin and heat the body directly. 

So all you need to do is get used to the infrared heat by visiting the sauna regularly. 

2. Dehydration

One of the main reasons for feeling sick inside an infrared sauna regardless of whether you are a beginner or seasoned sauna user is dehydration. The whole point of using a sauna is so that you can sweat out toxins but this causes excessive loss of fluid. To counter the loss, and prevent dehydration, you need to drink plenty of water. 

One of the biggest mistakes we notice seasoned sauna users making is they don’t drink enough water before stepping inside the infrared sauna after a workout session. So if you are planning on using the sauna following a gym session, drink a ton of water. 

3. Increased Blood Circulation 

One of the many benefits of using a sauna is that it helps increase your blood circulation. And efficient blood circulation leads to the elimination of accumulated toxins. That said, not all toxins can be removed through sweating. As a result, some toxins are left behind circulating in your system. These toxins are rapidly flowing in your body which causes ill-feeling after an infrared sauna session. 

4. Changes at Molecular Level 

Infrared lights penetrate deep into the skin and the unique wavelength of the light affects the molecular bonds in the cells of your body. Don’t worry, this is often seen as a contributing factor in your overall health improvement. But it does influence the inner workings of your body which can make you feel ill once you step outside the infrared sauna. 

infrared heat set too high
An instrument that measures temperature
(Source image: Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash)

5. Temperature Set to Extreme

Higher temperatures won’t accelerate your health! In fact, it can lead to dehydration, headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, aches and pains, anxiety, and even depression. 

It is important to know the amount of heat your body is capable of tolerating. We recommend setting the temperature low and then increasing it gradually as your body slowly becomes accustomed to the heat. That said, in a public infrared sauna, one can’t demand adjusting the temperature as one’s needs. So consider buying a portable infrared sauna or building your very own infrared sauna at home

6. Stayed For Too Long

This is a no-brainer. Staying in the sauna for longer than your body can tolerate will make you feel ill once the sauna session ends. Typically, you shouldn’t stay more than 30 mins in an infrared sauna. 

But if you want to build heat tolerance, do it gradually. Sit for a minute or two longer than your previous stay. Just remember to drink a lot of water and leave the sauna if you feel really unwell. 

7. Low Blood Pressure

Higher temperature and increased blood circulation can cause the heart to work rapidly, like when you are engaged in a moderately difficult exercise. And it could also cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop leading to dizziness and headaches. 

8. Underlying Health Condition

You might have some undetected health issue especially with regards to your kidney, skin, and heart, which is intensified when you are sitting inside an infrared sauna. Aggravation of health conditions like a blood-brain barrier (BBB) and leaky gut are also associated with an infrared sauna. In any case, if the ill-feeling continues, it’s better to check in with a doctor. 

Those are the main reasons you feel worse after using an infrared sauna. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent discomfort after using an infrared sauna. 

How to Stop Feeling Sick After an Infrared Sauna Session

Negative feelings are a natural part of the sauna experience. You are supposed to feel fluctuations in your blood pressure, increased heart rate, and blood circulation. So it’s natural to feel slightly strange following a sauna session. While you can’t remove the negative effects, you can minimize its impact by keeping yourself hydrated, getting your body slowly accustomed to the infrared heat, and leading a healthy lifestyle. 

hydrate before stepping into infrared sauna
A woman holding a glass of water
(Image source: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash)

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

The best thing you can do to stop feeling ill every time you use the infrared sauna is to drink lots of water, before, during, and after using the sauna. Across the whole experience, you should drink at least 1.5 liters of water. 

And please note, coffee, tea, or alcohol cannot replace water. In fact, consuming these beverages instead of water can cause severe dehydration. 

2. Spend Less Time in the Sauna 

When it comes to using an infrared sauna, less is more. Benefits don’t increase the longer your stay in an infrared sauna, so please take it slow. 

As we mentioned earlier, no one should stay for more than 30 mins in an infrared sauna. And beginners shouldn’t stay longer than 10 mins each sauna session. Gradually add a few minutes in every session until you can tolerate the heat for 30 mins without feeling sick or nauseous. 

Also, beginners should consider using the sauna on the weekends so that they have time to recover. 

3. Mind the Temperature

Although heat is the foundation of a sauna experience, hotter is not better. On the contrary, it can affect you negatively. A typical infrared sauna temperature should be between 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit but we suggest consulting with the manufacturer and following their recommendations.

Beginners can start with the lowest temperature, and dial it up slightly with every session. 

4. Take into Account Your Overall Health 

Needless to say, you have to avoid using the sauna if you have a fever or you are burnt out or pregnant. A useful rule of thumb is, don’t use the infrared sauna if you don’t feel well. Get well and then start using the sauna. 

Should You Use Detox Products?

Many health websites recommended using toxin binders like pyrophyllite clay and Zen Charcoal. They help remove toxins from your body but these substances are not regulated by FDA so consider avoiding them. Nonetheless, if you do want to try a detox product it’s absolutely essential that you consult with a doctor first. 

FAQs

Q. Can Infrared Sauna Make You Feel Sick?

A. Yes, infrared saunas can make you feel sick. First-time users typically experience low blood pressure, flu-like symptoms, dehydration, sore muscles, and stomach ache. These negative effects can be avoided by keeping yourself hydrated, getting your body slowly accustomed to the infrared heat, and leading a healthy lifestyle. 

Q. Why Do I Feel So Tired After Infrared Sauna?

A. You feel tired after using an infrared sauna because your body is not used to infrared heat. As you sit inside an infrared sauna, the infrared rays penetrate your skin directly and cause your blood circulation to increase and your heart to pump rapidly. These activities make you feel tired at the end of an infrared sauna session. 

Q. What Are the Side Effects of Infrared Saunas?

A. The negative side effects of infrared sauna are low blood pressure, flu-like symptoms, dehydration, sore muscles, and stomach ache. And the positive outcomes are better sleep, relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, relief from sore muscles, relief from joint pain such as arthritis, clear, tighter skin, and improved circulation. Read more: Infrared sauna benefits and drawbacks 

Q. Does Infrared Sauna Cause Inflammation?

A. No,  infrared sauna does not cause inflammation. In fact, it can help reduce inflammation by treating inflammatory diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.

Conclusion

Infrared saunas can offer great health benefits but one has to be careful. To prep for a great infrared sauna session, begin by drinking a lot of water, eating light healthy snacks, and setting a timer so that you don’t exceed over 30 minutes. Also consider taking breaks, checking the temperature periodically so that you are within safe limits, and drinking a lot of water during and after the session. 

If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below. 

(Feature image by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash)

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