Saunas provide several important mental and health benefits. I've been using them at the gym for years. It's always felt so relaxing to sit in a sauna after a long day of work. Spending time in the sauna became such an essential part of my weekly routine, that I decided to cut the middle man and get one for my home!
After setting off on this journey, I learned that I was not the only one looking for a home sauna. There are so many brands and models to choose from and the research took a long time. I figured I would make the process easier for you by sharing everything I've learned!
This first thing I found, was that over the process of many years, many different models have been developed by experts to cater to different customer needs.
If you've become interested in getting a home sauna, you need to consider several important factors, 10 to be exact, the first of which is to get acquainted with them!
What Is a Sauna?
A sauna is a small room that generates temperatures ranging that can reach up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. They are designed to induce sweating by providing your body with heat.
In traditional steam saunas, heat is provided through moist, heated air. A dry sauna on the other hand increases the temperature using heated rocks, stoves, or other tools.
Regardless, saunas have a history that dates back thousands of years. Finnish men are well-known for bonding with their friends while sauna bathing.
In addition to the social factor, saunas are considered beneficial for increased blood circulation, pain relief, relaxation, and the regulation of your body temperature and sleep cycle.
Types of Saunas
Traditional saunas can be divided into two broad categories: steam saunas and dry saunas.
Steam sauna bathing is done in steam rooms. These rooms are equipped with a boiler that circulates moist, heated steam throughout the room. While many people prefer steam sauna bathing, these saunas can be challenging to install.
Dry saunas, on the other hand, are the most common type to be installed in homes. A dry sauna provides dry heat by means of electricity, gas, or wood fire. The most common way to heat a dry sauna is by placing a stove with stones inside the wooden room. Although this type of sauna is the most common, it is considered to be a bit outdated.
Infrared saunas are an updated version of dry saunas. They also provide dry heat but through the use of infrared lamps. These lamps emit infrared rays which directly heat up your body temperature and induce precipitation without affecting the air.
An infrared sauna is a good choice for home installation if you want to meet your wellness needs. It comes with near, far, or full-spectrum heat.
Additionally, an infrared sauna is easy to operate, heats up quickly, and does not require any plumbing. In short, it packs all the human health benefits and none of the cumbersome installation requirements that you would face when building steam rooms.
The newest and most effective sauna heaters on the market combine the power of traditional Finish rock style sauna heaters with Infrared sauna heaters. This design results in a hybrid sauna that affords users with benefits from both technologies at once. These home saunas are an ideal choice for homeowners who want the very best in luxury, relaxation, and health benefits.
Benefits of Sauna Bathing
There are numerous health benefits of sauna bathing. A few 35-40 minute sauna sessions per month are instrumental in promoting health and wellness. Here are a few benefits that make a home sauna worth buying.
Preservation of Muscles
Weekly or daily sauna sessions drastically improve muscle elasticity and tone. A sauna session opens up the blood vessels, improving blood flow and bringing nutrients to the muscles.
Consequently, saunas are quite beneficial in helping preserve muscle mass and reducing inflammation. After an effective sauna bathing session, your HGH (human growth hormone) can naturally spike around 140%. All of these factors contribute to saunas being effective for weight loss!
Improved Heart Health
If your heart rate spikes more frequently than normal, you may want to consider adopting a sauna routine. After all, none of us are quite like we used to be in college.
Saunas might provide a way around declining heart health! That's right, folks. Sauna sessions are known to lower the heart rate and increase cardiovascular endurance. Combined with regular exercise and a healthy gym routine, 3-4 sauna sessions per week can drastically improve your heart health.
Our skin is the mechanical barrier between our body's internal environment and the outside world. Over time, it starts to wither and get scaly.
If your skin is losing precious vitality, a relaxing sauna session will immediately rejuvenate your entire body. High temperatures from the sauna are excellent in removing dead skin cells and improving blood circulation, which boosts collagen production.
Among the many health benefits of sauna use, our skincare enthusiasts will be happy to know that saunas also clean your pores.
Sweating is a great way for pore cleansing, as our sweat ducts are located directly below skin pores. Unclogged pores make the skin look healthier and provide passage for the body to expel toxins through sweat.
However, people suffering from psoriasis, eczema, or other skin conditions must consult a doctor before establishing a sauna session routine.
Good for the Mental Health
Saunas hold many mental health benefits. They're excellent for relaxation purposes, help you unwind from a stressful day, promote health and wellness, and make you feel good. You can even expect to sleep better!
They also help deactivate the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, a significant benefit.
Our body's autonomous nervous system is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is associated with the fight or flight response and can subject to unnecessary amounts of stress and anxiety in the body.
Hit the sauna if you're feeling the need to decompress.
Honestly, without my sauna routine, I would be running up a wall!
A sauna session is a great treatment plan for people suffering from back pain and muscle soreness.
They can also help relieve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Regular sauna use reduces inflammation, which is the primary cause of pain in common back issues and sore muscles.
Therefore, sauna use is an effective treatment plan for patients exhibiting symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, an acute inflammatory disease.
Health Risks of Sauna Use
There are also certain risks involved with sauna use. While there's no conclusive evidence that saunas directly pose any health risks, they may lead to issues when used wrongly or excessively.
Low Sperm Count (Temporary)
Sperm production requires lower temperatures, which is why the male scrotum protrudes outside the body.
Consequently, sauna use can lead to a lower sperm count.
You'll really only see this happening with males who are overusing the sauna. Staying in the sauna for longer than 30 minutes a day is not recommended. This effect is temporary and can reverse when you take a break from saunas.
Make sure you are hydrated before entering a sauna!
Since saunas increase body temperature and induce sweating, they can increase the risk of experiencing dehydration. Dehydration is common, but it can take turn for the worse if you continue to sweat and are exposed to the sauna heat for extended periods without drinking an optimal amount of water.
Therefore, you should always hydrate before using saunas. Like many well-documented clinical effects of saunas, dehydration is an important one, as it has a high risk of exacerbating certain medical conditions. Refrain from drinking alcohol before getting into the sauna. Alcohol consumption dehydrates the body. As a result, any benefits of sauna bathing will simply go down the drain, and the constant sweating will further dehydrate the body, causing toxins to build up in the blood vessels.
Again, hydration is crucial!
Low or High Blood Pressure
Patients with cardiac disease, high blood pressure, and low blood pressure need to consult with a doctor before a session of sauna bathing.
The reason for this is that their body cannot handle temperature extremities and that sweating can quickly affect pulse rate.
Outdoor Sauna vs. Indoor Sauna
Saunas can also be categorized based on their location in the house. Indoor saunas are more compact and lightweight, so they can fit easily inside your home. They usually have similar design features, as there's not much room for creativity.
An outdoor sauna, on the other hand, is more spacious and offers considerable variety in terms of shape and design.
Some saunas, like the Nature Collection carried by Medical Breakthrough, can be indoor OR outdoor due to their detachable outdoor roof shingles and weather-treated wood.
Cost of Home Saunas
While a sauna offers an effective treatment plan for many health conditions and leaves one feeling good and rejuvenated, there's also the matter of cost. While many of them may be a little less than affordable, there are plenty of options in the market for everyone!
Their prices can start from just a little north of $2000 but climb to immeasurable heights. It won't be surprising if you come across a model costing you 5-6 figures. However, they typically cost between $2000 and $10,000 unless you're aiming for a high-end model.
An average prefab indoor sauna kit can cost between $2000 to $9000, and it includes all the materials required for building a sauna. If you're not into DIY activities, professional installation can cost an extra $500 to $1700.
An outdoor prefab sauna kit costs between $4000 to $12,000 and takes around 15 to 20 hours to build. Installation can cost you an extra $1000 to $2500.
Personal or portable saunas are excellent for one-person use and are considerably cheaper than an outdoor sauna. These cost around $200 to $2000, depending on the sauna type, such as an infrared blanket, infrared dome, or tent-style infrared sauna.
Repair and Maintenance
Regular dry sauna bathing is more feasible considering repair and maintenance costs. You don't need to do much beyond a simple wipe-down with a clean cloth and some vinegar.
However, saunas that use electric heaters require regular maintenance. It's also better to replace the heater than to repair it. Steam saunas are also easy to maintain since they're mostly fitted in an existing bathroom space.
On the other hand, outdoor saunas are quite troublesome to maintain. The wooden structure can suffer from dry rot, leaks, or other kinds of damage.
There are many outdoor saunas that are resistant to that type of damage, which you can find here.
Reasons to Buy an Outdoor Sauna
An outdoor sauna is just as effective as its indoor counterpart, if not more. Not only will it provide the usual benefits to your skin and body, adding to their wellness, but an outdoor sauna also adds aesthetic value to your backyard.
If traditional wood-burning saunas are your choice for relaxation, installing an outdoor sauna will be your safest bet. In addition to health benefits and physiological changes, such as weight loss and improved blood circulation, an outdoor sauna also offers a change of scenery without one having to leave their home.
Also, a regularly maintained outdoor sauna is extremely durable and able to withstand rain, snow, and direct slight for several years. However, you need to install them on a flat surface like in the case of indoor saunas. Consider placing them on a wooden deck or a concrete surface.
Indoor Sauna Locations
If you're in search of an indoor sauna, consider spaces like unused rooms, bathrooms, basements, and garages. The basement is a good option if you want more control over the rest of your living space. It's also convenient in terms of measuring your privacy.
However, care should be taken that the basement does not have any mold growing. Damp surroundings spell disaster for an indoor sauna. In addition, you can expect longer warm-up times during the winters, although you can consider installing the sauna in a corner for better insulation. Measuring the area prior to installation is always the best method to prevent any mishaps and overcome roadblocks. A dry heat sauna is the best option for basement installation and gives you more control over the room's dampness.
The garage is another possible space to install a sauna. Besides bathrooms, garages are excellent spaces for sauna installation as they have plenty of space and provide superb ventilation. Also, you can place a drip tray to catch the condensation droplets instead of installing a drain! Super convenient!
If you're interested in a pre-built sauna, you can even utilize the space upstairs. Pre-built saunas are lightweight and designed to fit in small spaces with ease. They give you more control over the location of installation. However, in your search for the perfect sauna, don't forget that they shouldn't be installed over uneven surfaces or carpets. Carpets can trap the moisture, dirt, and sweat from your feet, causing long-term staining. Plus, the unpleasant odor isn't going to let you sleep either. All these spaces are good options depending on your usage and sauna type!
Customization and Safety
If you have the budget for it, consider customizing your sauna with different features to make your experience even more enjoyable.
Himalayan salt panels are excellent for improving your mental and physical health, sleep, and core body temperature. In fact, there are even claims that they can help boost the immune system over the course of time.
Similarly, there are even features like timers, thermometers, or humidity indicators that provide users with real-time feedback on their sessions. A timer, in particular, helps you keep track of time, ensuring you stay hydrated and in optimal condition.
Safety is an important concern when installing an indoor sauna. Sweat and moist air cannot escape the sauna space as it is sealed. Therefore, flooding issues are not a concern. However, fire and electrical hazards are very real and dangerous. As a result, consider hiring a professional to install the electric heater or stove to ensure the wiring is installed correctly.
Avoid installing the sauna on carpeting and stick to vinyl, ceramic, tiled, or concrete surfaces.
Visiting a sauna is just as good at making one sweat as regular exercise or going to the gym. Saunas improve health and wellness, sleep, fortify blood vessels, and remove toxins.
Just like installation, the search for the best sauna can be a cumbersome process. I hope my experience was able to help you out with both processes.
If you pay close attention to the ten topics discussed above before you begin your journey, I promise that your home sauna experience will be phenomenal.
P.S. The lovely folks at Airpuria were able to help me find the best sauna for my home. My personal favorite? The Nature 9 Plus. Not to mention they helped me save LITERALLY $20,000 off the regular listing price. These guys are the real deal and I highly recommend giving them a call. Happy sauna hunting!