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Infrared saunas are all the rage right now. Spending 30 minutes in one is supposed to do everything from burn calories, improve your skin, ease your sore muscles, and leave you feeling as relaxed as if you’d just dropped bulk $$$ on a day spa. Since we’re in lockdown and infrared saunas are not considered ‘essential’, I figured it was time to trial an at-home infrared sauna blanket from MiHIGH and give you an honest review.

So first things first: how does it work?

The infrared sauna blanket uses the same carbon fibre heating wires as a regular infrared sauna, which essentially produces heat at a much lower temperature (48-60 degrees) than a regular sauna (65–82 degrees).

According to MiHigh, the heat penetrates deep into the body and heats it from within, which means your face (and skin) get the benefit despite sticking outside the blanket.

As for the blanket itself – well, it looks a little bit like a sleeping bag. You lay it on any surface (your bed or couch will do), give it five minutes to heat up, and tuck yourself in. MiHIGH recommends you wear something long sleeved you don’t mind sweating in (because you WILL sweat), but I’ve found this isn’t strictly necessary – it just depends on whether you can take the heat. And since there’s several different settings, you can start at a lower temperature and then build your way up.

What does the research say about infrared saunas?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

One study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that sauna bathing for 30-minutes can reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular outcomes, while another study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that exposure to infrared lights could stimulate serotonin. (Please note: I am not suggesting you ditch your anti-depressants for a sauna instead. Definitely do not do this.)

Infrared sauna manufacturers claim them to be a weight loss tool, and MiHIGH reckons you’ll burn 300 to 600 calories in a 30-minute session.

There is limited evidence to back this up, but this 16-week Binghamton University study, which found that people who did three 45-minute infrared saunas per week measured up to a 4% drop in body fat over four months without changing their diet or exercise.

However, this is disputed, with some experts claiming the only weight you’ll lose is water weight (although the very process of generating sweat increases your heart rate and consumes energy).

Collagen and skin-wise, one study published in the National Library of Medicine found collagen, skin elasticity and texture improved after exposure to infrared light, while a study published in the The Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy showed 25% – 50% improvement in photoaging after 12 weeks.

“There is a lot of evidence that traditional saunas can have a number of health benefits, and there is a smaller body of literature that suggests infrared saunas may also provide some modest health benefits,” Brent A. Bauer, research director at Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, told Vice.

“So we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Pros to using the MiHIGH infrared sauna

You will feel relaxed as all hell after this. I thought I’d use mine once for this story, then pack it away and forget about it. Instead, it’s been such a stress reliever I’ve been using it multiple times per week, settling in to watch an episode of something mindless while lying from the comfort of my bed. In other words, it’s PERFECT in lockdown.

I’ve also noticed any muscle soreness almost completely disappears afterwards, which is definitely a bonus. I can’t really comment on whether or not you lose burn calories (and that might not be your goal, anyway), but it’s definitely a fun time.

mihigh infrared sauna review selfies
A small selection of the sweaty selfies I took while relaxing in this high tech sleeping bag.

And the cons…

The MiHIGH blanket is quite bulky, so you need somewhere to store it. I’ve found it fits under my bed – just. You’ll also sweat a LOT, so be prepared for a couple minutes of clean up afterwards.

There’s also quite a few people who can’t use this (including pregnant women and people with low blood pressure), so it might not be for you.

Would I use it again?

Hell yeah. Now that it has a little home under my bed, I can see myself using once a week from now until the end of time. It’s a silly little treat for my silly little life.

You can order one yourself from MiHIGH for $699. There’s even a 30-day trial period, so if you don’t like it or don’t get any benefit from it, you can send it straight back.

Image: Supplied