staying in sauna room

How long should you stay in a sauna?

There is nothing more breathtaking, satisfying, and relaxing than locking yourself in a sauna room after a workout or long day at work. That glorious time helps you unwind, detoxifies your body, and gets you burning excess fat.

But like most good things, saunas have also been observed to have some drawbacks. Studies have revealed that sitting for too long in this tranquil room can cause some health issues. So, this ultimately gets everyone wondering, “How long should you stay in a sauna?”

This post is dedicated to those who wish to feel the thrill of subjecting their bodies to extreme heat and pamper themselves with the health benefits of a sauna. But before we dig into this much-debated question, let’s find out why sauna is good for you.

People have been using saunas for thousands of years, and there’s no question that they are relaxing. Sweating can be a healthy way to cleanse your body and even rejuvenate your skin. Your body also has to work harder to produce sweat, which does burn more calories. Some people have reported losing up to five pounds after a single sauna session, and athletes sometimes use them to help make weight before competitions.

Since there are significant consequences for the body because of the high temperature, an entire host of variables become possibly the most important factor. Your heart is working fast (increment of 30 per cent or more, multiplying how much blood it siphons every moment), you are perspiring abundantly, and your pulse rises and falls. Likewise, with most beneficial things, make certain to pursue security safety measures and farthest point your time inside.

Twenty minutes is a general rule for the maximum exposure that you should be getting in one sitting. Everyone is different, and this general case might not necessarily apply to you. Always be sure to listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re feeling overly fatigued or overly hot, get out of the steam room. Staying in because you haven’t reached the twenty-minute limit is foolish if your body is telling you otherwise. Remember, steam rooms are supposed to be a soothing experience. If you find yourself trying to tough it out, you might be forcing yourself to stay in too long.

One of the first things to consider is building up a tolerance to the heat. While the max amount of time you should spend in a sauna is approximately 25 to 35 minutes (lower for those with health issues such as high blood pressure), you should not aim for that on your first try. Build up a tolerance instead. Sauna bath experts recommend starting with 10 to 15 minutes—making sure to rehydrate afterwards—and then adding a little more time each sauna session.

Sauna for beginners

Sauna beginners should ideally start at the lower benches. For trained sauna users, the most effective way is it to use the upper (hotter) benches for short but strong sweating. Before you leave the sauna, you should sit on the lower benches for about 2 minutes to become your circulation acclimatized to the upright position. Following the heat, the optimal health effect must take a cold shower and afterwards – for trained sauna users without high blood pressure – to take a cold bath in the diving pool.

Please be always aware: your wellbeing is the most important aspect while taking a sauna bath! If you do not feel well or have other complaints, it is necessary to leave the sauna and relax your body.

A sauna visit normally consists of three sauna sessions, but it depends on your personal health. In case of multiple saunas visits a week, the number of sauna sessions should be reduced in order not to stress the body.

Is it your first sauna bath – do you sauna regularly? 

Common sense will tell you that you will feel more uncomfortable in the sauna the first time rather than the successive times. Thus, you will naturally increase the time you spend in the sauna after the first few times. 

You can apply the rule for first-time users to all types of saunas. You should take it easy and stay less than 15 minutes when using the sauna for the first time in your life.

As soon as you feel uncomfortable, you need to go out immediately and let your body cool off slowly. It is not advisable to go under the cold shower and combine hot-cold in such a situation. Let it be gradually.

If everything is OK and you feel comfortable, you can try to enter the sauna once more, but avoid staying there for more than 10 to 15 minutes. As your body adjusts to the sauna treatment, you can spend more and more time in it.

How often? In the beginning, a few sessions a week will be enough. After a while, you can use it every day.

Your body adapts in many ways to sauna heat over time. It adapts on a hormonal, cardiovascular, immune system and nervous system level. Even your skin adapts to the sauna. Thus, you can expect to be able to stay in a Finnish sauna bath longer if it’s your 5th or 6th time, compared to your 1st or 2nd. But remember that if you’re using an infrared sauna, keep the maximum time set at 45 minutes.

How long should I stay in a sauna?

If you’ve never used a sauna before, sources like the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Sauna Society, and expert sauna bathers generally agree: 

  • You should start small.
  • For beginners. Don’t use a sauna for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
  • After exercising. Wait at least 10 minutes before entering the sauna after exercise.
  • At maximum. Don’t use the sauna more than about 15 minutes at a time.

While some experienced sauna users, especially in Finland, may turn the sauna into a longer social event, don’t overdo it. The longer you stay in the sauna, the more you risk dehydration, so a general rule is to cap your time to 15 to 20 minutes.

The Finnish, who the word “sauna” comes from, may have an even simpler suggestion since the sauna is meant for relaxing, not ticking off minutes: Leave the sauna once you feel hot enough.

Keep reading to find out why those few minutes in the sauna and frequent use might be good for you.

How much is too much?

It is a tricky question, indeed. Most of us believe that Swedes and Finns stay in the sauna for a long time. For them, it is the place for social gatherings.

However, do not believe everything you see in movies. Spending too much time in the sauna may cause severe loss of body fluids, and it could be harmful to you. In fact, the absolute maximum is 30 to 45 minutes for people who are already experienced in using the sauna.

During one session, you can reuse the sauna two or three times, but make sure to pause and cool off in between. It is a good idea to rest 10 to 20 minutes before entering again.

Since there are profound effects on the body due to the high temperature, a whole host of factors come into play. Your heart is working faster (the pulse can jump to 30 per cent or more, doubling how much blood it pumps per minute), you are sweating profusely (therefore becoming dehydrated), and blood pressure rises and falls. As with most good things, be sure to follow safety precautions and limit your time inside.

Is it safe to sit in a sauna for an hour? One of the first things to consider is building up a tolerance to the heat. While the max amount of time you should spend in a sauna is approximately 30 to 45 minutes (lower for those with health issues such as high blood pressure), you should not aim for that on your first try. Build up a tolerance instead. Experts recommend starting with 10 to 15 minutes—making sure to rehydrate afterwards—and then adding a little more time each session.

THREE SESSIONS

A sauna visit normally consists of three sauna sessions, but it depends on your personal health. In case of multiple saunas visits a week, the number of sauna sessions should be reduced in order not to stress the body.

Pay attention to how you feel. The first time you take a sauna bath, you may want to leave after a few minutes, but if you are comfortable, you can stay slightly longer—just no longer than 15 minutes.

Do you have heart disease or high blood pressure?

It has been known for decades that your cardiovascular function will improve, even if you have heart disease. That’s pretty amazing – and it makes us all wonder why health insurance companies aren’t reimbursing patients for buying a home sauna or building an indoor or outdoor sauna at home.

Nevertheless, scientists in Finland studied 102 patients with an average age of 52 years and at least one major cardiovascular risk factor. They only had one 30-minute sauna session (temperature 73 degrees C, humidity 10-20%). Blood pressure decreased and stayed low compared to initial levels. There were significant effects on the stiffness of the arteries. And the left ventricle of the heart was better able to pump blood after the sauna. 

And in Switzerland, doctors at Bern University carefully monitored what happened to 37 male patients with chronic heart failure or coronary artery disease after they had two consecutive Finnish sauna 80 degree C exposures, followed by cold water (12 degrees C) immersion. The men didn’t dunk their heads under the cold water.

They found great improvements in cardiac output and heart rate as well as blood pressure in those who had chronic heart failure. Coronary artery disease patients had benefits after the sauna only. 

The recommendation from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease, Risk Factor Study, showed that men using the sauna 2-3 times a week were 27% less likely to die from heart disease than those that didn’t. Men using the sauna 4-7 times a week were 50% less likely to die from heart disease. If you’re in this category of men, how long should you stay in the sauna? The answer is 19 minutes or more. 

Now you have all the information you need to jump into the indoor or outdoor sauna, Finnish or infrared sauna, do it yourself sauna or portable sauna – any type of sauna. The next step is up to you!

How to use a sauna properly?

Proper use of a sauna minimizes the chances of side effects and ensures that it fulfils the purpose for which it is meant.

To use the facility properly, you need to take certain precautions and apply certain tips as follows:

  • Take time before jumping into your cool shower to avoid a rapid change of body temperature. Your body needs time to adjust gradually from the steam to the cool bath. This helps to avoid any shock that may occur when the body changes rapidly from high to low temperature.
  • Hydrate properly before the sauna session. The sauna experience results in sweating, leading to loss of water from your body. Taking a lot of water before entering the sauna is therefore crucial because it ensures that the water lost through sweating is replaced immediately to prevent dehydration. Dehydration is risky to your body and may cause heatstroke. Also, avoid drinks that cause dehydration before and during the sauna experience. One such drink is alcohol.
  • Avoid the sauna after a heavy meal. A heavy meal needs a lot of energy for digestion. This deprives your body of the energy needed for sweating in the sauna. You should have enough rest after the meal to allow the body to regain energy before you enter the sauna.
  • Always read the instructions in the sauna before you begin using it. The instructions provide guidelines, warnings, and safety measures you need to take into account when using the facility. They may vary from one sauna to another, so it is advisable to read them, rather than to assume.
  • As a beginner, use a lower temperature and increase it gradually. This prevents your body from heat shock resulting from a rapid temperature change.
  • Get out of the sauna immediately if you start feeling discomfort. Your body is not meant to withstand high temperatures for a long time. A safe way to use the sauna is to limit your sessions to between 15 and 20 minutes.

Sauna time limit

Most places don’t enforce time limits. No safety monitor is standing in the sauna, ready to blow her whistle to tell you when your 30 minutes are up. Instead, time yourself and check the spa or gym for signs that specify how long to spend inside.

Most importantly, listen to your body. While you might be aiming for a more extended session, if you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or excessively overheated, step outside. Give yourself a break to let your body return to average temperature and then try again if you feel comfortable. Another plus to saunas is uninterrupted time to spend with a friend, so you might want to invite one to make the time more enjoyable.

Saunas can be a healthy and relaxing way to spend time—just be sure it’s less than an hour. You’ll be feeling the benefits in no time.

If you are hitting the heat or steam for the first time, your session should last no more than 10 minutes. As your body gets used to the routine, you can stay anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes.

If there are multiple benches in the sauna, move between lower and higher levels to find the most comfortable temperature for you. If you are an experienced user, however, you can use the hotter (upper) benches for stronger sweating. But once you are done with the sessions, make sure to sit on the colder (lower) benches so your body can adjust to the surroundings.

But most facilities running infrared saunas allow sessions of up to 30 minutes, the reason being that people can withstand infrared heat more than they can steam.

Traditional steam saunas operate at very high temperatures and work by heating the air around you. The sweating effect is triggered when the body responds to the increased temperature around it. Now, not everyone can withstand this temperature, and that’s why not many people are able to last for more than 15 minutes of the session.

Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use infrared light to heat your body. This, unlike its steam counterpart, stimulates the sweating effect by concentrating the red light directly to your body. There is no heat that goes to warm the surrounding air, which means you will sweat more at a reduced temperature. This is one of the reasons why many people can comfortably do a 30-minute session.

When Is Sauna Not Good For You?

Sauna has many health benefits, but sadly, not everyone can read them and not every time is perfect for you to lock yourself in one. If you have a health condition or are on treatment, spending time in the heat or steam room could do you more harm than good.

So, how long should you stay in a sauna if you have a heart-related condition or other health issues?

Honestly, don’t even think about subjecting your body to excessive heat when you have a life-threatening condition. But if you must, make sure you are cleared by your doctor before you go.

While several types of research have shown that the increased heart rate the sauna induces is not a cause for alarm for people who are physically fit or those with stable coronary disease, some people should not use a sauna unless with approval from a physician. These include:

  • Pregnant women and young children
  • People who are under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs
  • People with diabetes or circulatory problems
  • People on prescription drugs

One of the most important things to remember when using a sauna or a steam room is to take it slow. While saunas are generally considered safe and offer potential health benefits, it’s important to prevent dehydration. And remember, how you feel and how your body responds to the heat can be different each time.

Don’t try to use a sauna to induce weight loss, which will primarily be water loss. Make sure to drink water before and after using a sauna. If you’re worried, talk to your healthcare provider before visiting a sauna.

Speak to staff at the sauna’s location for tips, answers to any questions, and guidance on what to expect there. Consult your doctor before you use a sauna if you’re pregnant.

In the end, visiting a sauna should be a pleasant and rejuvenating experience. Remember to relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy.

In a nutshell, using a sauna is beneficial to your body, because it helps alleviate stress, flush out toxins from your body, cleanse your skin, and improve blood circulation.

It is also helpful in preventing illnesses, reducing pain in muscles and joints, and inducing healthy sleep, among other benefits.

However, for you to enjoy these benefits, you have to use the unit in the right way.

Remember, your body is not meant to withstand high temperatures for longer sessions, as this may cause harm to your health.

Now that you know what a sauna is and what it is for be sure to follow these important safety measures before stepping into the facility.

Whether you have set up a portable sauna in your home or using the one at your local fitness centre, how long you stay in it can have both a positive and negative impact. Your body is not built to stay in severe temperature for a prolonged period, as this may harm your health. So keep your sessions as short but beneficial as possible.

Drink plenty of water before you go, be keen on any sign of discomfort, and if you have any heart-related condition, make sure to seek advice from your doctor. Also, remember that saunas aren’t a cure for a hangover, so this is definitely not the place to be after a night of booze.

Scroll to Top