In my family, Wednesdays and Saturdays have always been traditional sauna days. These were just the days that worked for us, and the habit stuck. Timewise, I usually stay between 15-20 minutes in the sauna at a time. Sometimes I take a break to cool off and go for another session.
But is there some science behind how long should you sit in a sauna? Or is it just up to you how long to stay in the sauna?
A general guideline is to stay in the sauna for at most 15 to 20 minutes at a time. But it’s always best to listen to your body because so many variables affect how long you can stay in a sauna.
Let’s explore the topic more with some examples and studies!
How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?
The length of time you spend in a sauna depends on how well you tolerate heat, but the temperature of the sauna plays a big role. You might be able to safely stay in a cooler sauna for a longer period of time.
Recommended time in the sauna:
- Beginners: Start with a short time and increase it gradually. Don’t use the sauna for more than 5 to 10 minutes in your first session.
- Experienced: It’s recommended to cap your sauna time to max 20 minutes even as an experienced sauna goer.
- How long to wait to go in the sauna after a workout: Wait at least 10-20 minutes for your heart rate to get back to normal and for your body to rest before going to the sauna after a workout.
|Topic||Recommended time in the sauna||Additional recommendations|
|Beginners||5-10 minutes in first session||Increase time gradually|
|Experienced||Up to 20 minutes at a time||N/A|
|After workout||Wait at least 10-20 minutes before entering||Let your body cool down, stay hydrated, listen to your body, take breaks and cool down, wait until heart rate returns to normal|
|Optimal time to stay||19 minutes or more for robust benefits||Personal preference and body’s tolerance for heat may vary|
|Risks of staying too long||Risk of severe dehydration, dizziness, headaches, fainting||Exit sauna if feeling dizzy or weak|
You should also drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. People with high blood pressure, heart disease, or other medical conditions should use caution when entering a sauna. Pregnant women should also check with their doctor before using a sauna. Saunas can cause dehydration, so drink plenty. of fluids before and after using the sauna.
What Is the Optimal Time to Stay in the Sauna?
Watch the video below where Dr. Rhonda Patric and Dr. Jari Laukkanen discuss a recent study about health benefits of saunas.
In the video, they mention that, according to the study, people who stayed in the sauna for more than 19 minutes had the most robust cardiovascular health benefits, and participants who stayed in the sauna for less than 11 minutes still had positive effects but they didn’t reap all the benefits.
However, the optimal length of time you stay in a sauna depends on your personal preference and how well your body handles the heat. You can start with a short time and increase it gradually. A general guideline is to stay in for at most 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
What Happens if I Stay in the Sauna for Too Long?
According to studies, going to a sauna exposes your body to a lot of heat stress, it raises your body temperature and heart rate, and may dehydrate you because of excess sweating.
Sitting in the sauna for the recommended time between 10 and 20 minutes is generally safe for most people, but the temperature and humidity may affect how long you should stay in the sauna. Some people can simply stand the heat better. You should always listen to your body and exit the sauna if you feel dizzy or weak.
Sitting in the sauna for a too long time puts you at risk of severe dehydration, dizziness, headaches, and even fainting.
A study about the health hazards of saunas published in the American Journal of Public Health mentions that “Three out of 60 subjects using a Finnish Sauna for 20 minutes at a temperature of 80°C to 90°C (176°F-194°F) fainted.”
Dying from staying too long in the sauna is very rare.
An article in The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology looked at deaths in saunas in Sweden between 1992-2003 and found that most cases of death related to saunas involved alcohol or the person had underlying medical conditions.
How Long Can I Sit in a Sauna After a Workout?
Saunas can help your body recover faster, and some studies have found that saunas may even improve your athletic performance. But when it comes to going to the sauna after your workout, how long should you stay in the sauna?
The recommended time in the sauna after a workout is the same as without a workout. As a beginner, you should not stay more than 5-10 minutes in the sauna at a time, but you can increase the time to 15-20 minutes when you learn how your body reacts to the heat.
If you are planning to go to the sauna after a heavy workout, you need to let your body cool down at least 10 minutes after your workout and also make sure you are well-hydrated before entering the sauna.
You should listen to your body and pay attention to any discomfort or signs of overheating, such as dizziness or nausea. It is also a good idea to take breaks and cool down by sitting in a cool or room-temperature area or taking a cold shower.
It is important to stay hydrated while using a sauna, as the heat can cause you to sweat and lose fluids, and you might be already dehydrated or low on electrolytes after your workout.
If you are using a sauna after a workout, it is a good idea to wait until your heart rate has returned to normal before entering the sauna. This can help reduce the risk of over-exertion or other adverse effects.
In conclusion, going to a sauna for between 10-20 minutes in reasonable temperatures is generally very safe for most people. Just remember to keep hydrated, avoid alcohol and other substances when going to the sauna
Overall, using common sense and caution when using a sauna is important. If you have any underlying health conditions or are pregnant, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor before using a sauna.
Did you find this article helpful? If you have feedback or more questions about the topic, please let me know in the comments below!