I spent my Sunday morning lying upon my floor in a body bag. Coyote Ugly happened to be on TV, which was convenient, as I couldn’t reach my arms beyond my cocoon in order to change the channel. Just as my body temperature began to rise to the point where I could feel a hint of moisture on my abdomen, the scene where the Coyotes dance on the bar to “Cowboy” by Kid Rock came on. Now this — this is what I call getting high naturally, baby.
This tagline for the HigherDose infrared sauna blanket — “get high naturally” — is what enticed me. Of course, the concept of a sauna blanket enticed me, as well. A blanket is not traditionally something I’d intentionally like to become sweaty from, particularly in excess. But I don’t smoke weed, and could generally use some more stress relief. The ads for the sauna blanket that regularly came across my Instagram feed featured people essentially just laying down for a while and emerging rejuvenated — certainly, I could at least attempt to accomplish that.
The blanket itself is more like a sleeping bag, or as I mentioned in the case of my all-black model, a body bag. It’s made primarily of layers of “waterproof Polyurethane (PU) fireproof cotton” that looks like faux-leather, within which an electrical current produces infrared heat. The blanket also contains charcoal, clay, amethyst, magnets and tourmaline crystals to up the woo-woo factor. But basically, it’s an extreme heated blanket. You plug it in, let it heat up for 10 minutes and then climb inside. Slowly, you increase the heat until you begin sweating.
I’d thought the blanket would require you to be nearly nude, as one would be in a traditional sauna. Instead, you need to be extra clothed, with socks, pants and a loose, long-sleeved shirt. I ended up wearing a hoodie. My first go at it, I only sweated mildly. This surprised me, as I consider myself a sweaty gal. As I realized, though, I have the unfortunate plight of being a sweaty gal primarily from my face. With my face exposed to the cool air of my mom’s under-heated Massachusetts home, I couldn’t quite get the sweat to emerge from my upper lip as I’d anticipated. I also made the mistake of starting low, at level two out of nine. After around 40 minutes, I’d notched it up to a level six and was lightly moist on my body parts within the blanket. By this time, however, I had other agenda items to attend to.
When I tried the blanket again, I adjusted my game plan. I turned the blanket up to level five, and let it sit for the recommended 10 minutes before getting in. Eventually, I worked my way up to level eight. It took quite some time before I really got my sweat on, but when I did, it unleashed itself like a flood. My upper lip was a damn faucet (see below). Was I high? Today With Hoda & Jenna was funnier than usual, so maybe. After 50 minutes, I didn’t think I could take it anymore. This was partially because of the heat and sweatiness, but also because I’d just spent nearly an hour of my workday lying on the ground.
As I got out, though, I did indeed detect a sense of bliss. I even took some sweaty selfies. My boyfriend said I looked pretty. I told him I felt pretty. I was in a good mood.
Am I detoxified? Skinnier? More heart-healthy? Probably not, despite those being popular claims of the product and saunas more broadly. As MEL’s Senior Editor Nick Leftley pointed out when he was sent to an “urban sweat lodge” in 2017, the suggestion that sweating does anything to help you get rid of “toxins” is completely bogus — your liver and your kidneys do that for you, not your skin. There’s not much evidence that saunas can help you lose anything but water weight, despite increasing your internal body temp and heart rate. However, a variety of studies have found some support for the idea that regular sauna use can help with specific heart issues, chronic pain management and depression.
An infrared sauna blanket is unlikely to cure anything, but it seems at least to help with certain symptoms. Many devoted sauna users, blanket or otherwise, say that it’s helped with their mood, lessened their headaches, improved their skin and allowed them to sleep better. I’ve yet to see any major life shifts in my few sessions with it, but again, it definitely made me feel happier after using it. That’s not nothing.
One issue, of course, is price. At $500, the blanket seems firmly within the camp of rich people wellness, something I’d ordinarily be unable to access were I not a writer testing a product. I even feel a tinge of guilt about it. They do offer the option of splitting up the cost over four payments, and many of us ultimately end up spending far more on maintaining our health via health insurance or a lack thereof. Considering it’s literally a giant swaddler that gets super hot, I’m unsure I’d really want to spend less on it. Still, it’s undoubtedly a luxury. Even being able to spend an hour inside of it is a luxury.
And so, in the case of those who love to sweat, have the freedom to spend $500 and are dedicated to this type of wellness, it’s worth it. I’m genuinely excited to do it again. It will surely continue to feel absurd, but the high of the experience ought to mellow that out.