About four years ago, I decided to try an infrared sauna for the first time. It was a Higher Dose sauna inside an Equinox gym, and despite being someone who typically despises the heat, I was instantly hooked. The experience was shockingly relaxing, and I discovered that I didn’t actually mind the heat when A.) I knew exactly what I was getting into, and B.) I could immediately hop into an ice-cold shower once I’d had enough.
Cut to last month—thanks to the pandemic, I hadn’t been in a sauna—or an Equinox, for that matter—in two years. Though Higher Dose and other sauna brands like Sunlighten do sell their saunas for personal use, I’m not in a position to spend $7,000 on a sauna—nor do I have the space to accommodate it. So I was delightedwhen I got the opportunity to try Higher Dose’s v4 Infrared Sauna Blanket ($599).
Though it’s not exactly the same experience as a traditional infrared sauna—not least because I use it on the floor of my bedroom—it’s an incredible alternative that has already become a crucial part of my wellness and self-care routines. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is a Sauna Blanket?
A sauna blanket is a sleeping bag-like contraption that uses infrared rays to heat the body. According to Higher Dose, the sauna blanket elevates the body’s thermal energy, enhances deep relaxation, promotes glowing skin, and improves circulation. Unlike a traditional infrared sauna—that’s basically like a small box with glass walls and a wooden bench you sit on—that offers full-spectrum infrared rays, the sauna blanket offers far-infrared rays, which, according to the brand, may help deliver a deep detoxifying sweat and allow your body to push out heavy metals and increase your heart rate.
What Are the Benefits of Infrared Sauna Blankets?
- Enhances deep relaxation
- Improves circulation
- Promotes glowing skin
- Burns calories
- Encourages detoxification
- Offers pain relief
- Raises energy levels
- Reduces stress
- Promotes better sleep
Infrared sauna enthusiasts make some pretty big claims about the benefits you can reap by consistently sweating it out, from weight loss and “detoxification” to improved sleep and clearer skin. Some of the loftier claims aren’t backed up by science (chiefly, weight loss and detoxification), but some studies, like this one from Saxion University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, have determined that infrared saunas can be an effective tool for reducing joint pain and stiffness (1). Another study from Hefei University of Technology in Hefei, China, found that infrared saunas might improve your blood vessels’ ability to expand and adapt to changes in blood pressure (2). (In general, flexible blood vessels are good for long-term heart health.)
What Makes the Higher Dose Sauna Blanket Special?
For me, the biggest draw of the Higher Dose v4 Sauna Blanket is its convenience. While I love a good hour-long sauna session in a gym or dedicated sauna facility as much as the next person, it’s been wonderful to be able to feel some of the same effects without leaving the comfort of my home. I appreciate that I’m on no one’s schedule but my own; if I want to do a quick sauna session at midnight, before bed, I can.
What Do I Wear In the Higher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket?
This was one of the biggest adjustments for me switching from a regular infrared sauna to a sauna blanket. In a regular sauna, I’d wear nothing but a towel. In the sauna blanket, however, your whole body needs to be covered—sweatpants, a long-sleeve shirt, and high socks. I was initially concerned that the excess clothing would make me too hot, but it turns out it’s totally fine.
How Long Do You Stay Under an Infrared Sauna Blanket?
Higher Dose recommends that you limit sessions to 30 to 45 minutes. I typically stay in for the full 45 minutes.
Here’s what a typical session looks like:
- Lay the sauna blanket on a flat surface. I like to put mine on a yoga mat for some extra cushioning. I also like to wrap a pillow in a towel to go under my head.
- Preheat the sauna via an easy-to-navigate control pack. Higher Dose’s Infrared Sauna Blanket lets you choose between levels one through eight, with level one being the least intense and level eight being the hottest. (The brand suggests starting at a level four or five, but because I was used to traditional saunas, I started at a six.)
- After preheating the sauna for ten minutes, lay down inside of it, zip yourself in and set your phone timer for however long you want to stay inside.
- When your time is up, get out of the sauna, turn it off and unplug it. Allow it to cool down fully before wiping it down.
While you let the blanket cool down, take a cold shower. It’ll feel shocking at first, but trust me, it’s worth it.
- Once the inside of the sauna is completely cool, use a nontoxic disinfectant wipe or spray to sanitize the blanket, fold it up, and store it until you’re ready to use it again.
How Much Does the Higher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket Cost?
At $699, the Higher Dose v4 Sauna Blanket doesn’t come cheap. But, if you use it frequently and you do the math, it might make sense. For example, this week I’ve used the sauna blanket five times. If I was going to in-person sauna sessions at one of Higher Dose’s locations, that would’ve cost me around $65 per session, meaning $325 for the week.
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Higher Dose Sauna Blanket?
- Great for small spaces
- Easy to clean
- Relaxing and rejuvenating
- Reduces stress
- Promotes better sleep
First, the pros. I have loved my experience with the Higher Dose v4 Sauna Blanket so far and I can already see it becoming a regular part of my routine. Though I’m not sure how much I buy some of the supposed benefits like weight loss and detoxification, I’ve found that the relaxation alone is worth it for me. It feels so indulgent to take 45 minutes out of my day to lay down in a heated blanket in a dark room while listening to music or a podcast and not worrying about the million things we’re all worried about constantly. It’s so refreshing and rejuvenating. I’ve also noticed that when I use my sauna blanket, I drink way more water than I would otherwise, which could contribute to the claim of clearer skin.
- Too short for some
Now, the cons. Personally, the price is a bit steep for me, but again, if you use it enough it can be pretty easy to justify. My only other complaint, really, is the blanket’s size: I wish it was just a few inches longer. I’m 6’1 and find that my feet are really jammed at the bottom of the blanket in order for me to feel the heat on my back and shoulders.
The Bottom Line
If you’re able to justify the cost, the Higher Dose v4 Sauna Blanket is a truly wonderful way to treat yourself to some serious relaxation and mind/body benefits.