How Can you Improve your Mental Health at SweatHouz?
That post-sweat feeling of relaxation and investment in your health is hard to beat! And, consistent commitment to positive health behaviors can have both short- and longer-term impacts on your mood and mental health. Here, we’ll explore four evidence-backed mood and mental health benefits of the SweatHouz wellness experience.
Post-Plunge Mood Boost
You can think of mood as a short-lived emotional state that can lean positively or negatively. Further, mood is influenced by our behaviors, environments, and ability to cope with stressors and emotions of daily life. Cold water exposure can be mood-boosting due to the release of neurotransmitters like epinephrine and norepinephrine, as well as the sense of accomplishment and grit it takes to stick with it for 3-5 minutes at a time.
Cold plunging also triggers a prolonged release of dopamine – which can elevate your mood, help you focus, and make you more alert and ready to tackle the day ahead. For this reason, many of our members love cold plunging before big work meetings, presentations, or interviews!
Many adults recognize that sleep quality is linked to a myriad of health outcomes, like risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, mental health and more; however, many of us could stand to improve our sleep! SweatHouz infrared saunas and red light therapy may be two tools you can use to improve your sleep:
Habitual sauna use may increase melatonin production, which can lead to improvements in sleep quality and latency in adults. Plus, using the sauna can help promote feelings of relaxation and help you manage stressors of daily life – both mentally and physically – which may make it easier for you to fall asleep that evening.
There is also emerging evidence suggesting that redlight therapy may improve sleep quality. For example, redlight therapy may improve sleep quality in athletes. A small study on female basketball players found that whole-body redlight exposure over 14 days was linked to better sleep & higher serum melatonin levels. Further, the National Sleep Foundation also recommends LED light therapy for people with insomnia.
Better Brain Health & Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline:
Much of the healthspan-related evidence we have surrounding sauna use comes from cohort data out of Finland – a culture where sauna use is more of the norm than the exception. One study published in 2017 followed over 2,000 participants and concluded that moderate to high frequency of sauna bathing (like using the sauna 4 times / week or more for years) was associated with lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
And, data from the same Finnish cohort suggest that regular sauna users had lower likelihood of developing mental illness than those who rarely used the sauna. This is a case for being in it for the ‘long-game’ rather than the immediate, short-term benefits; the results of sauna use seem to be cumulative!
Lower Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Can regular use of hot or cold therapy be an important part of a mental health treatment plan? Turns out researchers have been working to answer this question, and while more research is needed here, the emerging evidence is promising. Here’s a quick snapshot:
For example, an experimental study published in 2020 examined the impact of adding cold therapy to treatment plans in people diagnosed with mental illness. Study participants who added cold exposure into a treatment plan saw improvements above standard pharmacological treatment and experienced reduced symptoms of depression and improved well-being.
Similarly, a 2016 experimental trial looked at whole-body heat therapy as part of a treatment plan for major depressive disorder. Researchers concluded that whole-body hyperthermia holds promise “as a safe, rapid-acting, antidepressant modality with a prolonged therapeutic benefit.”
Like with most health behaviors, consistency is key; showing up for yourself 2 or more times per week will help you accrue the benefits SweatHouz has to offer. We recommend pre-booking your appointments on our mobile app each Sunday for the week ahead – it’s easier to show up for yourself if you’ve already made the commitment and penciled the time into your calendar.