Hundreds of research findings confirm the many physical health benefits provided by regular sauna bathing. From helping people with bronchitis and asthma breathe easier by acting as a lung decongestant, to reducing hypertension and symptoms of heart disease, sauna bathing is quickly becoming an effective and popular way to treat a wide variety of health issues.
New and exciting research regarding psychological sauna health benefits indicate that heat can improve mental health, relieve depression and exert calming effects on people with mild to moderate anxiety. Scientists think that stimulating the skin and underlying tissues with heat activates serotonin-releasing cells in the brain. A neurotransmitter regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and motivation, serotonin is also vital to enhancing feelings of well-being and happiness.
People diagnosed with depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and panic disorder have significantly lower than normal levels of serotonin. This is why doctors routinely prescribe antidepressants for increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Thankfully, several studies suggest that regular sauna use can help with mental health symptoms related to:
- Appetite Loss
- Anxiety and Stress
Studies Highlight Mental Health Benefits of Saunas
Depression and Related Symptoms
At the Kagoshima University Hospital in Japan, researchers compared patients with appetite loss, fatigue and depression to a control group after each group underwent far infrared sauna treatment sessions. They reported far infrared sauna treatment patients enjoyed a statistically significant improvement in their symptoms. Patients also found it easier to relax after several sauna sessions. This study suggests that regular thermal therapy using far infrared saunas could be helpful for treating mildly depressed individuals with appetite loss and other subjective symptoms.
Anxiety, Stress Relief, and Mood Enhancement
Results of a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice involved 45 men and women (average age 51 years) visiting a sauna just one time. Researchers had subjects complete two questionnaires asking about their anxiety and mood states following their sauna session. Six mood-related factors—confusion, fatigue, vigor, anxiety, dejection, depression, hostility and anger—were measured and found to improve significantly after sauna bathing.
Lowers Risk of Dementia/Alzheimer's Disease
A longitudinal Finnish study published in Age and Aging examined sauna health benefits for potentially reducing the risk of dementia and memory diseases in men between the ages of 42 and 60. Follow-ups on subjects found that men having two to three sauna sessions each week experienced dramatically fewer symptoms of dementia than men who only had one sauna session per week.
Additional Mental and Mood Benefits of Saunas
Infrared sauna heat calms your body and your mind. Sitting by yourself for 20 minutes every day in a sauna facilitates achieving a meditative state by giving you the time and space to organize chaotic thoughts, ponder possible solutions to problems and de-stress your body and mind.
Infrared saunas stimulate blood flow throughout your body as heat penetrates your soft tissues and muscles. Your brain needs a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to function properly. While sauna breathing, inhale deeply to enjoy the benefits of saunas on cognition and the brain.
Getting a good night's sleep every night is essential to your physical and mental well-being. Research indicates that infrared sauna therapy may induce sleep-modulating effects caused by disruptions in the circadian cycle.
Learn More About Sauna Mental Health Benefits
Always defer to your medical professional, especially for emergencies. To help your treatment program, consider integrating sauna therapy into your daily routine to naturally help with symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Whether you love the higher temperatures found in dry saunas or prefer softer infrared sauna heat, Finnleo has the right type of sauna for you. Find a dealer near you to explore the many mental and physical health benefits of saunas.