If you have ever wondered what it’s like to sweat your pants off in a crazy heated plastic sleeping bag while watching bachelorette, then I’VE GOT A POST FOR YOU. So many of you have asked about my infrared sauna blanket, because it’s frankly totally weird so a few weeks ago when Mal was visiting she saw it, asked me all the normal questions and then INSISTED on seeing it in action, and of course shooting/documenting it for y’all (in a highly unproduced way as you can see). So today I’m going to answer all your questions. BY THE WAY I’m not a scientist or expert in any way – this is just my personal experience with the product. Like you, I was very curious and skeptical when I heard about this, wondering ‘is this just another expensive LA wellness gimmick that privileged women fall for then end up in a landfill and make us feel bad about our bodies when they don’t work?
My “sauna blanket journey” started 2 years ago, after reading about infrared saunas on lots of lifestyle blogs. Curious and open (but skeptical) I wanted to try without a big investment. I used to live near Shape House in Larchmont in LA and a friend of mine and I started going there for a healthy night out where we laid in their sauna blanket, sweating, while watching TV with headphones next to each other. As you do in LA! (If you want to have a true LA experience start at yogaworks down the street, then Shape house, then eat at Cafe Gratitude across the street after, it’s HILARIOUS and delicious – I can’t tell if restaurants like that are what made me want to leave LA or what I actually miss the most:)).
Anyway sweating feels and is REALLY GOOD for you, regardless of how you sweat. But it was also very expensive to do the shape house (like $60 a pop) and not really sustainable (I think you can get a membership). Around the same time (pre-pandemic) we were talking about infrared sauna blankets as a more long term option with one of our friends, Whitney (the one that knows everything about beauty and products) and she was like “I did the research, I have the best one, it’s amazing’ and then sent us the link. She was very convincing and talked a lot about EMFS and safety, so convinced, both of us “asked” and got it for Christmas. When I say I ‘asked’ I reached out to them to see if they did influencer marketing and they shipped it immediately with zero strings attached (after they vetted me of course). So while product was gifted, this is NOT a sponsored post (I do not work for them and there was no guaranteed trade for press) it’s been a year since I’ve been using it consistently and I have a very honest review for you today. I’ve gotten so many questions from friends/family and those who’ve seen me doing it on social so I thought it was about time. So today, with the help of Mal, you’ll see how its done, what you need to do it, the pros and cons (and warnings), and my review.
First off – WHY?? What is the point Of A Sauna Blanket?
For me, it’s to feel good – both mentally and physically. Sweating is good for you – we know this scientifically. It’s good for your skin, getting your heart rate up is good for your cardiovascular system (it stretches your veins making them more flexible which is good to avoid plaque build up) and it boosts your mood. They claim other things about it on their site that I’ll get to at the end, but after a lot of research those facts convinced me to try it and indeed it DID boost my mood. You feel SO GOOD afterwards. As someone who likes to have something fun to look forward to every night (I’m an enneagram 7, it’s annoying) this has become a great substitute to having a glass or more of wine. It was a ritual that I could do while watching bad TV by myself and then afterwards I take a shower, crawl into bed and I’m OUT. So while people have other reasons why they do this, I do it because it makes my brain and body feel really really good and it’s a healthy substitute to less healthy nighttime wind down habits.
So what do you do exactly in a sauna blanket?
You literally just lay in it, velcroed like a straight jacket for 50 minutes and it makes you sweat. A LOT. You will not look like one of the models on their website. Not even for a second. You can have one arm out to change channels, drink water, etc, or sometimes I’ll just do my bottom half if I want less of an effect, but to still feel super warm. Its very very very easy, although if you get claustrophobic it might not be your thing.
STEP ONE – Prepare your bed and get situated
You will be unable to get out or up so you HAVE to be prepped and dressed properly. You MUST cover your body with medium weight loose fitting clothes. No workout tights and not thin pajamas – I like thinner sweats or joggers (I’ve done it in lightweight pajamas but my body was red underneath – it was too hot). you have to wear socks (again, not too thin or thick). You get it – baggy and loose, long sleeve and never tight. Then you lay a towel inside to catch the sweat – make sure its under your neck where it will be the worst and you don’t want that sweat on floor/bed/sofa.
I like to do it while watching TV so not fully reclined, but you can lie flat and even put a pillow under your knees even. Just make sure you are comfortable.
STEP TWO “Pre-Heat” your blanket
- Choose heat setting with the dial. I started out doing level 8 and it was hot AF, but now I’m up to a 9. If you are a newbie I’d start at 6 or 7 – no matter what you’ll be hot. Read the manual, I’m just giving you advice from my personal experience but I’m NOT an expert or an ambassador for the brand.
- Turn it on – It’s like preheating an oven. You don’t really want to get in until its fully warmed up. You have 10 minutes to get situated while it warms up. It will go for 1 hour – 10 minutes warm up then 50 “active” minutes at the right temp, and then turn off on its own and you can’t extend it, so make sure you are ready to go at minute 9. I usually lay it down, get dressed, turn it on, gather my stuff, then get in.
STEP 3: Gather your ingredients
Make sure to have a side table that is easy to reach and near your right hand (as that is where the velcro opening is – sorry lefties!). On it you’ll need:
- Any and all devices you might want – TV remote, iPhone, kindle, music player, etc. (no books as you’ll only have one hand)
- Water in some sort of grown up sippy cup so you don’t have to sit up – and a lot of it.
- Heart monitor – OPTIONAL. I only just got my iWatch for my bday so I didn’t watch my heart rate the first 9 months of doing this, but it is satisfying (although now that I say that should apple watches be in such hot environments like a sweaty sleeping bag?). Y’all, I’m NOT a scientist nor am I an ambassador for the brand in any way, again, so read the warnings and use common sense.
- Make sure you can see the red light on the control panel from your position so you can see when the time is up. Trust me, in about 50 minutes you are going to be desperate to see that little red light turn off, indicating its over (there absolutely should be a timer on it – more on my product notes in the review at the end).
STEP 4: Just lay, sweat and watch TV
Some people really love to just listen to music or meditate but I like to watch gripping reality TV. I’ve found that it can’t be something I have to pay too closely attention to or a serious drama because you will be distracted by the heat/sweat and if you are bored you’ll be watching the clock and desperate for it to be over. I watch Bachelor or RHOBH, mostly (the kids are in bed, obviously).
If you’re wanting a video visual of this whole process, feel free to watch it here (after the ad)!
The First 10 minutes 7:30 PM
At first you are going to be so snuggly and warm and you might even think that this is easy. And yes, if you want to jump in just to get warm you can but getting out before the 50 minutes is up defeats a lot of the effects (more on that below).
7:50 – Heart Rate At 110 bpm
This is where it starts to get pretty hot and you realize that you have 30 minutes left. Again I’ve done this probably 40 times and while you mentally know what to expect it doesn’t actually get easier. I’ve gotten better at setting myself to be the most comfortable (thus the first 3 steps) but the heat is what it is – and it’s hot. Twenty minutes in though you feel hot and sweaty but good.
8:00PM – 30 Minutes In & It’s Really Hot. (still at 110 BPM)
8:10PM – The Last 10 Minutes Are The Hardest (128 BPM)
I don’t really have anything new to say except it gets hotter and hotter and your body is working harder and harder to keep you cool, thus the high heart rate. This is where I often take one arm out and fan my face, and start staring at my phone every two minutes, willing the time to go faster.
I’m laughing, but 45 minutes in you aren’t having “fun”. But, again the point of this is not FUN, it’s to get your heart rate up and sweat so that afterwards your body feels amazing. Like a lot of things that are physically good for you, there is a little bit of suffering or pain and that has to be worth it to you (it is to me).
8:20 PM – The Grand Finale (167 BPM) – DON’T GET OUT EARLY
I made it. Normally when the timer turns off I rip myself out of blanket, literally panting desperate for fresh air. Now from what they say it is very important to do the entire 50 minutes because the last 10 minutes are the most effective. So slipping out early can negate the last 40 minutes of work and you might not get the effect (again, this part has not been scientifically proven with evidence).
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
SO GOOD. As you can see I’m CRAZY sweaty, dripping. And you keep sweating for a while. At the Shape House they would tell you NOT to shower for a while – hours even, to let your body cool itself down naturally and that if shower you aren’t getting the benefits of that work. The Shape House claims that you continue to burn a lot of calories as you cool down, which I didn’t find any scientific evidence on and Higher Dose (the blanket) doesn’t say that so who knows. I usually watch TV for another 15 – 30 minutes or longer just in case, then I take a quick shower. This is not my favorite part – because I usually sauna blanket after kids are down and by the time I’m done it’s at least 8:45 or 9 and I just want to get into bed, so waiting for my body to cool itself down is sometimes annoying. But trust me, you can’t get into bed without showering it off (and annoyingly I can’t go to bed with wet hair so then I’m drying my hair at 9:30 when I really just want to be in bed).
I really appreciated the flattering photos, Mal. So as you can see my ending BPM was 167, which is VERY high. Mal did it after me (clean towel, I promise) and her plug accidentally came out of the wall so after we plugged it back in we think she accidentally stayed in for 55 minutes and her heart rate at the end was 184 – which is CRAZY. It’s also VERY not safe to be in more than 50 minutes, which is why it automatically turns off.
My official review
I mean, as you can see I love it. On a good week I’ll do it 3-4 times, but rarely less than once a week. So I must really like it to commit that kind of time. Like I said above, it gives me something to look forward to, I love the dumb TV ritual, and my body feels so good afterwards. I feel like I’m doing something good for me while I’m literally just laying down.
Yes, it’s a massive mood booster
What I feel confident in telling you is that everybody I’ve ever talked to about infrared or normal saunas love how they feel afterwards, so I think it’s very safe to say its a guaranteed mood booster. It’s like doing a cold plunge (which I started doing in the lake in winter) – it’s really effing cold, but the feeling afterwards is unbeatable. Pushing your body to do something hard (as long as its healthy) gives a release afterwards that gives you a hit of dopamine, which makes you feel happy.
Pro: #2 – You’ll probably sleep better
Now while sleep science has a lot of factors like diet, excercise and mental health common sense tells me that when your body is THIS relaxed, and has worked hard for 50 minutes, not to mention warm you are more likely to sleep better, harder and longer. I sure do.
Do you really burn more calories? Is it really like a workout while lying down?
Well, like a lot of these new wellness tools there really isn’t any evidence because in order to get ‘evidence’ backed by scientists and the FDA you need years of research, control groups, etc. and this stuff is too new. Like I wrote at the top science supports that sweating is good for your skin and that getting your heart rate up is good for your cardiogascular system. Some scientists say sweat releases toxins, but that is not a consensus yet (I’ve read that it’s nominal as most toxins are released through our bodies natural biological processes).
BUT what I did a deep dive on is if your heart rate is as high as a cardio workout are you actually burning a ton more calories? Can you call this a “workout”? And there really isn’t any evidence for it, but it honestly doesn’t seem like they know. So I’m going to give you my common sense perspective. Let’s compare hot yoga to normal yoga (same class just one in a heated room) – while I coudln’t find a study on this either its my belief that if you sweat a TON MORE that yes, your body is working harder to cool itself in addition to the muscular work. But how much to make it actually worth it? Who knows.
My common sense perspective
So without scientific evidence yet we can rely on our common sense. Do I think that I’m burning more calories watching TV in the sauna blanket than I am when I’m just watching TV not sweating in a sauna blanket – YES. My body is working MUCH harder, struggling to keep me cool and there is no way that doesn’t translate into some calories. Do I believe 50 minutes laying in a sauna blanket is the same as 50 minutes doing physical cardio? Not really. because you aren’t moving your body or activating any actual muscles. So I feel like there are some weight management benefits if you are into that or seeking that, but I do NOT think it’s a guaranteed way to lose weight. During Souptember I lost my “hazy IPA weight” and I was doing it 3-4 times a week, but I was combining it with other healthier lifestyle choices – no sugar/alcohol, mostly plant-based and doing a lot of real cardio so of course the scale moved. But I want to be clear that without evidence I think it’s hard to believe that you are burning the proclaimed 600 calories by just laying there. If i’m wrong and there is evidence out there then WHOOPIE (and please send article in the comments!). I also don’t think we or the companies should highlight that as the biggest benefit, when there are other benefits of the sauna that feel more substantial, important and healthier.
When I do the sauna blanket I do feel like I’m taking care of myself more than if I were just watching TV, and when I’m kind to to my body/mind and prioritizing my health I feel less guilt, shame and anxiety. In conclusion, for me its one of the easiest ways to feel proud of myself, like I’ve checked a ‘good for me’ box, while just watching TV 🙂 xx
*This post was not sponsored by anyone. I’m not an ambassador to the brand nor a scientist. Just a privileged lady who has enough time and resources to review controversial wellness tools. EHD uses affiliate codes throughout the site which can lead to commission on any potential sales, but we do that with anything we love and genuinely want to recommend.