Can You Get High in an Infrared Sauna?
Endorphins, Serotonin and Dopamine
Written by Christopher Kiggins
Can You Get High in an Infrared Sauna?
The single best thing about taking an intense infrared sauna session (yes, they can get intense) is the reward of taking a hot steam shower after. The combination is literally intoxicating and something I recommend to everyone I sell an infrared sauna to.
You get such an amazing natural high from taking an infrared sauna session on its own that when you combine the steam shower afterward it feels like you’re floating for hours on end.
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I don’t personally believe in taking chemicals to alter my mood—I’d rather go for a swim, a run or… take a very intense sauna! The feeling you get after a 30+ minute sauna session and a hot shower is only what I can describe the feeling of being high is. Once I felt this feeling a few times I wanted to find out what was going on.
What I found out was that it is essentially the same concept as why people like eating very spicy jalapeño peppers. It’s not that these people enjoy the pain—it’s that they enjoy the “high” or feeling after eating the jalapeño. It’s actually the pain that causes the high. This is what happens after a sauna session as well! Let’s find out why.
There is some science to back this feeling of floating you experience. Have you ever wondered what’s responsible for the natural high (or “runner’s high” after exercise) in general? The most common explanation that you’ve heard is that it’s because of your body releasing endorphins, but that’s not entirely what’s going on.
(The word endorphin is a combination of the words “ENDO-genous”, meaning ‘occurring naturally in the body’, and “mo-RPHIN-e”, which is a pain-relieving compound).
Beta-endorphins are natural opioids that are part of our natural painkiller system. This system is known as the “mu-opioid” system, which stops pain signals from going from the body to the brain. The body also generates a peptide called dynorphin, which is responsible for the feeling of unease (better known as dysphoria). This unease experienced due to extreme heat in a sauna, eating spicy food, or during intense exercise is because of the release of dynorphin.
This release of dynorphin causes a sensitization of the mu opioid receptors, which then interact with the beta-endorphin. This process is what creates the “runner’s high” feeling. What’s interesting is that it is directly precipitated by the unease of physical exercise, extreme heat and food spiciness (i.e., a bit of pain—depending on the pepper!). Basically, the greater the pain experienced during your infrared sauna session, the better the natural high will be after.
Immediately following an infrared sauna session (and the interaction of the dynorphins and mu opioid receptors) is a sense of “high” from raised serotonin levels. Serotonin is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance. When your serotonin levels are normal you feel happier, calmer, more focused, less anxious, and more emotionally stable.
An infrared sauna will help to normalize your serotonin levels and put you in the rest and digest mode of your parasympathetic nervous system. As a result, after only a few sessions in a far infrared sauna you will simply exit feeling like you’re floating on a cloud. Add a cleansing shower and you will also experience the best night’s sleep ever and the natural high we’re all chasing!
It’s great to have studies back up how I feel after I experience an infrared sauna session and explain the feeling of being high. I also notice improvement in my energy level and the appearance of my skin. Some additional benefits of far infrared sauna therapy are de-stressing, enhanced exercise recovery, greater flexibility and it even helps me meditate better.
I guess you could combine the effects of getting high from the heat with improving your skin, enjoying a mild workout, continually detoxing, relieving pain, burning calories and improving your circulation. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy all of these benefits along with the euphoria far infrared heat provides!
If I push myself in my sauna a little bit more each day, the payoff is the incredible natural high that I receive. You literally feel euphoric and that a giant weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Don’t believe me? Without a doubt the more intense your infrared sauna session is, the better the natural high will be after. Like you needed any more reasons to get your own sauna, right?
Dopamine is probably the most well known feel good chemical. Neurons in the brain release dopamine, which carries (signals) between said neurons. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which the body uses to create chemicals called norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Infrared sauna exposure causes a release of dopamine and beta-endorphins, a neuropeptide hormone. These hormones cause a sense of euphoria, improved mood, more energy, a greater sense of calm, and pain tolerance. The sauna will literally cause you to feel like you have more energy, a calmer mood and mind and the feeling of floating—all done naturally through infrared heat!
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I am glad infrared saunas have developed the way they have, because I couldn’t imagine my life without the benefits they provide, like deep sleep, lower blood pressure, less joint pain, weight loss, and a boosted immune system. Here at SaunaCloud I sell saunas that are some of the best history has offered. My far infrared saunas use advanced ceramic-carbon combination heaters for an amazing sauna experience. For more information on how SaunaCloud’s infrared saunas work and how they can improve your health, download my book The Definitive Guide to Infrared Saunas. Just give us a call at SaunaCloud 1.800.370.0820.
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