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How Can Using Home Sauna Every Day Benefit Your Mental Health?

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Sauna, in certain cultures, dates back thousands of years. The history of the sauna is closely associated with Finnish culture. Harvard Health Publications also reports that ‘sweat houses’, much like modern saunas, can be traced back to 3000 years ago in the Mayan civilisation. Saunas are also very popular in the US.

Studies have found that saunas might have several health benefits. Sweating has been used as an indigenous form of therapy for a long time in different parts of the world. It is believed that using a sauna can improve your cardiovascular health. Ongoing research also indicates that sauna can benefit our mental health too. 

What is a home sauna?

A sauna, or sudatory, is a small room or a stand-alone hut that is equipped with heating devices. The temperature inside the hut can be raised to 100-140 degrees F to induce sweating. Home saunas are usually of two types: dry saunas and wet saunas. 

A dry sauna uses wood, gas, or electricity to heat the room. Sometimes, infrared lamps are also used to heat the user’s body directly and induce perspiration. On the other hand, a wet sauna is fitted with water boilers. The boilers emit moist steam that heats the air of the sauna chamber. Dry home saunas are more popular than steam saunas. 

Here’s how using a home sauna can help improve our mental health:

It helps enhance mood and relieve depression

Evidence shows that the sauna can help elevate mood. Experts believe that sweating triggers the release of endorphins, which in turn, induce a euphoric feeling. Thus, using a home sauna daily can make you feel happy and content in your life. 

Doctors have also found that sauna can potentially benefit people coping with depression. A study has shown that exposure to infrared sauna lamps can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression. It can be assumed that regular use of a sauna can have a similar effect as any conventional antidepressant treatment. Sauna treatments have also reduced depression in cancer patients. 

It helps alleviate stress and anxiety

Evidence also shows that regular sauna use can help reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body. High levels of cortisol are also associated with frequent anxiety bouts. A sauna helps increase relaxation and makes you feel calm by inducing endorphin synthesis. 

It stimulates beta-endorphins

Chronic pain makes you feel stressed and increases the risk of depression. Studies show that saunas can help boost the release of beta-endorphins, the pain-relieving neurotransmitters naturally produced in the body. These natural analgesics also help relieve migraine pain, fibromyalgia, etc. Consequently, it helps relieve stress and reduces discomfort. 

It increases the synthesis of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor

BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein in the brain that is associated with nerve growth. It is responsible for changes related to learning and memory retention. Using a sauna increases the generation of BDNF. Higher levels of BDNF protect and repair the brain by increasing the growth of newer brain cells. Consequently, it uplifts mood and helps reduce the risk of mental diseases.

It may help with ADHD

Sauna use can also significantly increase the synthesis of noradrenaline, a hormone responsible for improving focus and attention span. A study shows that noradrenaline levels can increase by 310% when staying in a sauna till exhaustion. Scientists believe that this effect of sauna on the body can be utilized to manage ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 

It reduces the risk of dementia

A 2016 Finnish study found that using saunas regularly can also decrease the risk of dementia. It can also be beneficial in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study reported that participants who used saunas four to seven times a week had a 66% lesser risk of dementia than those who used saunas only once a week.

The bottom line

Sauna or sweat therapy is often considered an alternative treatment for various health conditions. It not only helps manage stress and anxiety but also helps relieve pain and fatigue, improve cardiovascular health and even improve sleep quality. Studies also show that using saunas regularly can help with the psychological symptoms of anorexia. 

Using a home sauna daily can significantly reduce the risk of mental diseases and improve your overall well-being. 

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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