As a child of the ‘80s, I vividly remember how my mother would groove – or “twerk,” maybe, in today’s vernacular – to Sweatin’ To The Oldies on VHS.
Now, nearly four decades later, “the oldies” represent the top 40 songs that I grew up with as a kid, and today, you don’t have to shake your booty to break a sweat. I’m talking about that strong, soaking sweat you can enjoy while standing still – the magic sensation of the sauna.
If you belong to a boutique gym or even your local YMCA, chances are you’ve stepped inside one of these steamy lairs to seek out its acclaimed effects – relaxation, rejuvenation, even so-called detoxification. Personally, I love a good sauna session whenever I, shivering, emerge from the occasional pool workout; even if the benefits are mostly placebo, I subjectively feel like my stress is melting away, like I’m being wrapped in a protective cocoon.
What if you could experience the same sauna endorphins without even leaving your home – or, better yet, without even leaving your bed?
Some tech-savvy daydreamer must have been thinking just that when the idea for the hottest new wellness trend was born: the infrared sauna blanket.
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Suddenly, these sweat-stimulating sleeping bags are popping up all over social media, with rave reviews from Hollywood celebs, influencers, and everyday people alike. But at a few hundred dollars a pop, are these high-tech blankets worth the splurge?
To answer that question, let’s first break down the basics.
What The Heck Is A Sauna Blanket?
If you’ve never heard of a sauna blanket, don’t worry – I hadn’t, either, until my browser bombarded me with Mother’s Day ads featuring the HigherDOSE model, which (let’s be honest) looks like the lead apron you’d wear in an X-ray room.
As it turns out, the heavy blanket isn’t made of lead but, instead, of waterproof polyurethane (PU) fireproof cotton – which basically means it’s safe to heat up without, well, bursting into flames.
According to HigherDOSE’s instructional video, you just plug the device into the wall, turn up the dial to your preferred temperature, slip inside the comfy cocoon, and enjoy a euphoric 30-ish-minute session.
Bring the #spa anywhere with a little help from the HigherDOSE Sauna Blanket. #Infrared technology raises your blood flow and leaves you in the relaxed, euphoric state a traditional #sauna delivers. Learn more about it here—https://t.co/5zUY4a4pwD pic.twitter.com/2q7B5bR4Jm
— b8ta (@b8ta) December 19, 2020
So, how do you not fry to crisp when you’re inside the portable sauna? That’s where infrared technology comes in. Instead of heating up to 150-plus degrees Fahrenheit, like a traditional sauna, the sauna blanket emits electromagnetic radiation (infrared light) at temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This infrared beam warms you directly, rather than heating the air around you, which makes for a more tolerable sweat-breaking experience.
What Are The Benefits?
Sure, the sauna blanket is relaxing (how often do you otherwise let yourself lie down in the middle of the day?) – but how well does it live up to the more sensational internet claims?
Besides deep relaxation, the HigherDOSE website lists the following benefits of its blanket: glowing skin, better circulation, detoxification, calorie burning, and muscle recovery. The caveat, of course, is printed right there on the front page: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Basically, believe at your own risk.
Or ask a couple of experts, which is what we did. Their words of wisdom? Well, since infrared saunas (and the blanket version) are so new to the wellness game, there’s just not enough evidence yet to know for sure.
“The claims associated with sauna blankets (e.g. detoxifies the body, burns calories) are not based on data or any sort of testing,” explains Blaise Collins, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist. “In the few articles that do demonstrate improvement, the results haven’t been replicated or the sample was far too small to draw conclusions.”
As for touting the sauna blanket as a calorie-torching technique to replace the spin bike, don’t count on it. “This is not a reason to use the sauna or a sauna blanket,” urges Cristina Caldwell, an exercise physiologist, sports nutritionist, and athletic coach.
“You do burn more calories at rest while in the sauna. Your body is working harder to cool itself, so your heart rate goes up,” Caldwell explains. “But this is negligible for calorie burn. You’re looking at 50 to 100 calories for 30 minutes – and you wouldn’t want to be in a sauna for lengthy periods.”
Infrared saunas do not detox or burn calories.
Sweating doesn’t detox your body, it’s meant to regulate body temperature.
Also: If heat burns calories, then everyone in places like India and the Middle East would be thin.
Please stop falling for pseudoscientific crap!
— Abby Langer Nutrition (@langernutrition) May 3, 2019
The bottom line, the experts say, is don’t expect a miracle, or even a bill of better health at your next physical. Still, there’s something to be said about any handy tool that enhances relaxation, even temporarily during an otherwise hectic day.
“In summary, saunas may help you feel momentarily relaxed, but that’s where the benefit ends,” notes Dr. Collins. “It’s not increasing fat loss; it’s not improving cardiovascular function; it’s just a momentary reprieve from life.”
Where Can I Buy One?
If subjective relaxation and stress relief are what you’re seeking – not the unrealistic expectations about detoxification or weight loss – then the sauna blanket may be a savvy investment. Despite the initial sticker shock, the one-time splurge could easily beat an expensive monthly gym membership, or the cost of building a sauna in your basement. Plus, this stress reliever is portable!
If you’re ready for that sweet, sweaty reprieve, look no further than the links below. From the influencer-endorsed HigherDOSE model to the more affordable up-and-coming brands, there’s a blissful blanket for everyone. Here’s our best-of breakdown!
Best Overall Sauna Blanket: HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket
Best Foldable Sauna Blanket: REVIIV Far Infrared Sauna Blanket
Best Stretchable Sauna Blanket: INLOVEARTS Far-Infrared (FIR) Ox-Ford Sauna Blanket
Best Zippered Sauna Blanket: VANELL Far-Infrared Sauna Blanket
Best Affordable Sauna Blanket: Wedigout Sauna Blanket Far Infrared
Real review: “It’s amazing. Wonderfully easy and convenient. I’ve been sleeping better and feeling great. It’s been a long time coming; I’m so happy I finally made the purchase.”
Real review: “I was dubious the first week thinking this was a very expensive electric blanket. But no, I’m completely converted. This was so worth every penny and is now left permanently out in the spare room as it’s such a treat to use. I am starting to see the benefits now a month of using it. It’s a very welcome addition to my house and I’ve discovered using it before bed is the best sleeping pill you’ll need.”
Real review: “It really works great for sweating. Also pain relief. A must have. Haven’t used the remote yet, but manually it’s easy to use.”
Real review: “I have been looking for a sauna blanket for a long time. I have Lyme, and this helps with my aches and pains. Love the zippers in front to put out my arms! This product was well priced, and arrived in a timely manner.”
Real review: “Honestly this is going to be great in the winter time. You definitely get a good sweat and it’s very very relaxing! Buy it now!!”
Have you experienced the sauna blanket? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!
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