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How Long Should You Sit in a Sauna?

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T he concept of saunas is not new, dating thousands of years back. What is new, however, is proof that the claims related to the health benefits of saunas are true, research in the past 30 years indicating that there are indeed positive implications with regular sauna use. Needless to say, this has led to an even bigger growth in popularity for saunas, spas all over the world, and even gyms having sweat rooms for their clients. More and more people even build their own saunas or buy kits that they set up in a few hours to enjoy the sweat sessions at home.

Woefully, it isn’t all good news with sauna use as overstaying your welcome can have dire immediate repercussions on your health. This is why we brought up the topic here, to talk to you in the following about the appropriate amount of time that you should spend inside the sweat room so that you won’t end up damaging your health instead of improving it.

Time Limit for Traditional Sauna Use

A wooden cabin where the heat that causes you to sweat is obtained from heated stones, the traditional sauna that originates in Finland is still quite sought-after. The air inside it tends to get dry, and this is why users pour water over the heated rocks, creating steam that enhanced humidity.

Tip: Pour a few drops of essential oils of your choice if you want to benefit from relaxing aromatherapy while you sit inside the sauna as the oils will disperse into the air through the steam that is created.

The temperature in the wooden cabin generally reaches 160°F to 194°F or 71°C to 90°C. As you can see, temperatures tend to get quite high in these saunas, so you must limit your use accordingly to avoid dehydration or a heat stroke. Most health specialists recommend that you take 20-minute sessions to benefit from the health boost provided by the sweat chamber without existing repercussions. There are people who extend their sessions to 30 minutes after their bodies accommodate to the conditions inside, but it is best to stick with what experts advise.

The high temperature and humidity in the traditional sauna demands the use of a specially manufactured sauna thermometer if you want to keep an eye on conditions during your sessions.

How Often Can You Use the Traditional Sauna?

Sure, using the traditional sauna might be enjoyable even if you only went through a single session, but if you want to see improvements to your health, you have to use it regularly. Ideally, you should use it up to three times per week tops, and make sure to not surpass the recommended 20-minute threshold. In your first few sessions, you can even go for 10-15 minutes tops at the lowest temperature preferably, and work your way up from there. Your body is not accustomed to the hot, steamy environment yet, so it is best to brace yourself.

Time Limit for Infrared Sauna Use

The newest in the sauna industry, the infrared model is surrounded by hype as it can be installed indoors without worrying about drainage, humidity, and other aspects generally associated with steam rooms. The small cabin features infrared heat emitters that are responsible for raising the temperature generally from 100°F to 150°F or 38°C to 65.5°C.

As the infrared light penetrates your skin, it helps increase your body temperature from within. Thus, you sweat without the temperature in the cabin going up.

As long as you make sure to hydrate regularly and appropriately, you can sit inside the sauna for 30 to 60 minutes. Generally, the 30, 45-minute tops threshold is recommended regardless of your level of accommodation with the sauna as passing this point could lead to health repercussions that you might not feel until it is too late.

Do you want to have a sauna of your own at home? Then check out the best infrared saunas here and select from one of these top-rated products that provide sweat sessions through the use of infrared light technology.

How Often Can You Use the Infrared Sauna?

With infrared saunas, it is a matter of accommodating your body to the experience rather than plunging in headfirst. In the beginning, use the sauna every other day and keep the temperature setting at the minimum, gradually raising it with each session. After approximately three weeks of proceeding in this manner, you can step up your game and move on to daily use.

Start with 30-minute sessions that you either split into two different 15-minute sessions, one after you wake up and one before you go to bed, or do a single full-length session, whichever option suits you best. Raise the temperature gradually with each use, and as the weeks pass, you can modify the schedule how you like. Just make sure to listen to your body and cut the time or frequency of use depending on what feels most comfortable for you specifically.

If you are keen on saving space, try a portable sit down infrared sauna instead. It takes up minimal space and provides the same hearty sweat the cabin-style sauna does, at a much cheaper price.

What Happens If You Sit in the Sauna Too Long?

We cannot stress this enough – don’t use the sauna for more than the recommended amount of time, neither with traditional or infrared saunas. The outcome is the same in both situations, and you end up damaging your health instead of boosting it. Being in the heat for too long or feeling the heat penetrate the body as is the case with infrared heat, the temperature of your body exceeds safe levels, which can lead to a heat stroke.

As soon as you feel dizzy or nauseous, leave the room immediately and take some time to cool off as it might be a sign that your body is overheating. Make sure to drink water when you get out too as dehydration might have started to settle in. Avoid cold air immediately after you get out as the sudden temperature shift might worsen your symptoms.

Dehydration is among the main risks with sauna use. Due to its super hydrating composition that makes it much easier to get absorbed by the cells in your body, alkaline water is the preferable option over regular-pH water. You can either make it, buy it, or use an alkaline water ionizer to pour a glass on demand whenever you feel thirsty.

How You Benefit from the Sauna when Used Correctly

  • Faster post-workout recovery: Strained, tense muscles are common after an intense workout session. Warming the tired muscles in the sauna helps alleviate the soreness and pain considerably faster though, so you will be back on your feet quicker than ever, no matter how much you push yourself at the gym. This is the reason why a lot of gym venues have sauna rooms, by the way.
  • Stress relief: Sauna rooms are peaceful, free of distractions, and quiet. You can meditate during the sweat session, relieve your mind of worries, focus on happy thoughts, and calm your spirit. As the release of endorphins is stimulated during this experience, you will inevitably feel happier as this is their purpose, providing you with a happy, feel-good general state of mind.
  • Healthy sleep: Due to the sweating and release of endorphins that occur during the session, you are sure to sleep sounder and wake up feeling more refreshed after using the sauna. It is actually recommended to use the sweat room before you go to bed if you have insomnia-related problems or you simply feel tired even after a full night’s sleep as you don’t rest properly.
  • Take a 20-minute nap in an infrared sauna blanket while it tends to help your body sweat out toxins, and you will feel more energized than ever.

  • Detox: While inside, you perspire excessively, removing the harmful toxins from your body. Moreover, your skin will be cleaner, so chances are that acne-related issues will atone or disappear altogether as well, depending on their severity.
  • Weight loss aid: Don’t solely rely on the sauna to help you shed those extra pounds because that is not how it works. Instead, when combined with proper dieting, exercise, and proper hydration, the sweat sessions boost the weight loss process so that you reach your goals quicker.
  • Maximize weight loss benefits by wearing a sauna vest while you work out and when you do everyday chores. The material in the wearable promotes excess sweating, so you are bound to reach the silhouette you dream of faster.

Tips to Use the Sauna Properly

Aside from using the sauna as often as recommended, and limiting yourself to the amount of time recommended to sit inside and sweat, there are a few other aspects you must take into consideration to minimize negative effects and amplify the health benefits. Here are some tips we recommend you follow religiously:

  • Take your time: When you finish, let your body adjust to the temperature outside gradually. Only then can you proceed to take a cool shower, preventing the effects of rapid temperature shifts.
  • Do your mandatory reading: If you bought an infrared sauna for home use, it is most certainly accompanied by guidelines regarding use, safety aspects, and warnings. Read them carefully before you use the product to prevent any unwanted incident.
  • Leave at the slightest unusual discomfort: You are supposed to relax to the fullest while inside the sweat chamber, not feel uncomfortable. When you feel a discomfort, regardless of its nature, step out of the sauna immediately to prevent more serious repercussions. That negative effect could be related to an intolerance to the heat or dehydration, so it is not negligible.
  • Beware what you eat: Make sure that you wait at least one hour after you eat before going into the sweat room. You should also avoid heavy meals before sauna use as your body will waste its energy on digestion and not have enough strength to sweat properly during the session.
  • Drink enough water: Drink a glass of water before you get inside the sauna, one when you get out, and sip water during the session whenever you feel thirsty to prevent dehydration or even a heat stroke. To hydrate quicker, drink alkaline water instead of regular tap water.
  • Never mix booze into the equation: What you might not have known is that alcohol dehydrates you. Thus, it is mandatory to never go in a sauna if you consumed alcoholic beverages beforehand. Otherwise, you risk dehydration.

Conclusion

The time you can spend inside the sweat room depends on the type of sauna session you intend to undergo, as we have previously explained. As long as you don’t exceed the time limit recommended in this article, you are safe most potential side effects of sauna use, and you will benefit from its health perks to the fullest extent. Combine the tips provided here with proper hydration before, during, and after the session, as well as proper adjustment of the temperature settings, and you won’t ever have an unpleasant experience.

Before you go, make sure to check out our selection of outdoor saunas to find the right sweat cabin for your backyard, if you have the space for it!

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.