How to Use a Sauna (Safely and Correctly)

Using a sauna can be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, offering numerous health benefits such as improved circulation, detoxification, and stress relief.

how to use a sauna

Whether you're new to saunas or a seasoned user, understanding the proper way to use one is essential for maximizing these benefits and ensuring your safety especially when not in a public setting for those with their own in home sauna.

Key Takeaways

  • Health Benefits: Regular sauna use can improve cardiovascular health, aid in detoxification, relieve stress, and support muscle recovery.
  • Hydration is Crucial: Always hydrate before, during, and after your sauna session.
  • Time Management: Limit your sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes, especially if you're new to it.
  • Listen to Your Body: Exit the sauna if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or uncomfortable.
  • Proper Preparation and Cooling Down: Preparing properly before entering and cooling down after a session is important for safety and comfort.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Sauna

1. Preparation

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water before entering the sauna.
  • Shower: Take a warm shower and thoroughly dry off.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear a towel or light clothing. Some prefer to go in nude with a towel to sit on.

2. Entering the Sauna

  • Choose the Right Time: Avoid eating heavy meals right before using the sauna.
  • Start with a Lower Temperature: If you're new, start with a lower temperature to acclimate.
  • Sit or Lie Down: Find a comfortable position. Use a towel to sit or lie on to keep the sauna clean.

3. During the Session

  • Relax: Close your eyes and breathe deeply to maximize relaxation.
  • Stay Hydrated: Sip on water periodically.
  • Monitor Time: Aim for 10-15 minutes if you're new. Experienced users can stay up to 20 minutes.

4. Exiting the Sauna

  • Cool Down Gradually: Step out and let your body adjust. Sit in a cooler environment or take a lukewarm shower.
  • Hydrate Again: Drink water to rehydrate.
  • Rest: Allow your body to cool down completely before resuming normal activities.

Sauna Do's and Don'ts 

Sauna Do's - Relax and Recharge

  • Do shower before and after your sauna. Showering off before enjoying a sauna helps boost the skin's circulation by removing dirt, oils and lotions that may clog pores. Allowing your skin to breathe and sweat freely will increase the sauna experience and help give your skin a healthy glow. And don't forget to shower off and moisturize afterward.
  • Do stay hydrated. You can lose up to a pint of sweat during a short sauna session, so hydration is essential. Aim to drink 2 – 4 glasses of water after your sauna replenish the moisture you've lost during your sauna session.
  • Do use a sauna hat. Yes, that's really a thing! A sauna hat insulates the head but also keeps it cool. A traditional sauna hat is made of linen and cotton and soaked in water to keep the head cool and protect it from the heat. An added benefit -- the sauna hat offers protection for the hair from heat – which many hairstylists recommend, especially after coloring.
  • Do mist often. Depending on how dry you like your heat, another way to add moisture into the sauna and onto your skin is with a spray mist bottle. A few mists throughout your session – which feels great with cool, fresh water in your mister – can add some needed hydration to your skin. A few drops of essential oils in the mister can add even more hydration and a calming scent into the air.
  • Do clear your mind. To achieve the best sauna experience possible try to relax and unwind. Listening to music, meditating, relaxing conversations with friends or family, or even reading a book are all great ways to use your sauna time as a reset from hectic, day-to-day life. This is your time to unwind and do something good for your mind and body, so use it wisely!

Sauna Don'ts - Proceed with Caution

  • Don’t consume alcohol while taking a sauna bath. Alcohol itself is dehydrating, so combined with the natural dehydration that occurs with a sauna session, you're at serious risk for dangerous dehydration or even heat stroke. Dizziness and fainting are caused by severe dehydration, which can result in a severe injury while inside a sauna.
  • Don’t forget some medications can change the body's response to heat. For example, diuretics, which are used to treat high blood pressure, can easily cause people to become dehydrated. It's important to ask your doctor if the medications you're taking cause a change in the body's normal response to heat.
  • Don’t overextend a sauna session. Saunas come with timers for a reason, so you should make sure you use them to prevent dehydration. When first starting to use a sauna, keep sessions between 10 – 15 minutes. You can gradually increase sessions to the suggested maximum time of 20 – 30 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How often should I use the sauna?

For most people, 2-3 times a week is sufficient. Frequent users might use it daily, but it's essential to listen to your body and not overdo it.

Can I use the sauna if I have health conditions?

Consult with your doctor before using a sauna if you have any medical conditions, especially heart issues, respiratory problems, or if you are pregnant.

What should I avoid doing in the sauna?

Avoid eating, drinking alcohol, or using drugs before and during your sauna session. Don't stay in too long, and never force yourself to endure discomfort.

Is it normal to feel lightheaded after using a sauna?

It's common to feel a bit lightheaded due to the heat and sweating. Ensure you're hydrating properly and cool down gradually. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice.

Additional Tips and Information

  • Sauna Etiquette: Respect others' space and comfort. Shower before entering, use a towel, and avoid loud conversations.
  • Sauna Types: There are different types of saunas, including traditional, infrared, and steam rooms. Each offers unique benefits and experiences.
  • Accessories: Consider using essential oils, sauna hats, or brushes to enhance your experience. Essential oils can be added to the water to create steam with a pleasant aroma.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the numerous benefits of sauna use while ensuring a safe and pleasant experience. Always remember to listen to your body and prioritize your well-being.

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