How Long To Stay in Sauna? (What Is The Optimal Time For Guaranteed Benefits?)

The biggest mysteries of the modern world are the existence of aliens, what happens after death and what is the ideal sauna time…

Every person I asked has given me a different answer, and every website I visited has an answer that seems to contradict other websites.

With barrel saunas now trending for their amazing looks, it might be tempting to spend most time enjoying yourself in the sauna…

However, for the sake of safety, we need to know how long to stay in the sauna, and this is what this article is all about.

Key Takeaways

The general rule is to stay in the sauna for between 10 to 30 minutes for beginners, at 79 C.

  • 19 minutes is the required time for the most benefits.
  • Sauna time varies depending on sauna types, sauna temperature, and your goals.

  • As your tolerance goes up, you could stay for longer periods.

  • It’s better to break your sauna sessions in rounds with 5-minute breaks than to hit a long session

  • The health benefits of sauna include lower mortality rates, better muscle recovery, and more.

  • There are different ways to use a sauna (sauna+ice bath, rounds of sauna sessions, etc.)

  • Saunas can be dangerous if you have underlying health issues.

What Is The Optimal Range for How Long to Stay in Sauna?

Sauna times, unlike ice baths, are longer. Our body is more comfortable tolerating heat than cold.

Let’s look at some general guidelines to find the best sauna time for you.

visual representation of sauna time ranges, and how long to stay in sauna

General Guidelines

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, most experts agree that the sweet spot for sauna sessions ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.

The reason you see so many different time suggestions on the internet is because of something we all hate to hear: it depends on many factors.

Said factors include sauna types, the temperature, your age, your goals, and how active you are.

During an interview between Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Jari Lukkanen, they both discuss how long to stay in a sauna. Their answers were along the lines of: ”You don’t want to stay in too long, but you also don’t want to not stay long enough to get these important benefits”:

For this study particularly, Dr Lukkanen concluded that more than 19 minutes is necessary to get the cardiovascular benefits.

However, not everybody can do 19 minutes. So I suggest beginners start with lower times, as low as 5 minutes at a time.

There are no rules when it comes to sauna session times. You could do 20 minutes separated into 3 sessions with cooldown breaks in between.

The key is to listen to your body’s cues. Discomfort or dizziness are signs that it’s time to exit and cool down. Your time threshold is what determines how long to stay in a sauna.

How long to stay in sauna: signs to get out

The idea is the following: 5 minutes are better than no sauna at all. When you get used to it, you can do more time. The more time in the sauna room that you can handle, the better the benefits.

There is no evidence that regular sauna use is dangerous. In fact, it is encouraged. Your goal is to try to go every day for maximum health benefits.

Inconvenience Of Sauna

Recent research suggests that sauna reduces sperm count…temporarily. This means the more you use the sauna, the less sperm your body will produce.

Your sperm count will go up once you stop the sauna, however.

Factors Influencing Your Sauna Time

Many factors might influence your sauna times such as the type of sauna, the temperature, your goals, and your individual health and fitness level.

Type of Sauna

Types of sauna

From traditional Finnish saunas to infrared saunas, each type offers a different experience and may require adjustments in session length.

  • For Infrared Sauna, up to 45 minutes at a time. The way an infrared sauna operates is through infrared lights that prompt your body to act as if it were exposed to heat. The lack of heat and humidity is why you can handle longer sessions.

  • For Dry Saunas, up to 20 minutes at a time. A dry sauna, or Finnish sauna, emulates heat through the heating of rocks. This sauna is the ”hardest” to handle because of the dryness. In Finnish sauna culture, the dry sauna is usually combined with a plunge into a cold lake (contrast therapy).

  • For the Steam room, up to 25 minutes at a time. Steam rooms work by adding water to the rocks, which produces steam. The steam room is highly beneficial for your skin.

Temperature and Goals

Sauna temperature is clearly relevant when we determine how long to stay in sauna.

20 minutes in a 70-degree Celsius sauna is not the same as 20 minutes in a 90-degree Celsius sauna. I have tried both, and the 90C one is a killer.

Dr. Andrew Huberman released a protocol article for sauna durations and benefits.

He gives protocol for 3 types of people:

  • General Health: Healthy individuals looking for benefits of sauna
  • Cardiovascular Health: Improve heart health, lowering all-cause mortality
  • Growth Hormone Health: For older individuals whose HGH levels dropped

I have put the teachings into a simple picture for you to better understand!

Individual Health and Fitness Levels

Your personal health and fitness levels also play a crucial role in determining how long you should stay in the sauna. Those with higher fitness levels may tolerate longer sessions.

Seasoned athletes need more time in saunas than more sedentary individuals because they alleviate muscle soreness, something that athletes deal with more than anybody else.

Athletes can benefit from 20-30 minutes of sauna after a workout.

As mentioned in the section above, if you have illnesses or conditions that hurt your capacity to handle heat exposure, then your sauna time will go down, or you shouldn’t be in a sauna at all.

Have you ever wondered What To Wear In a Sauna?

Benefits of Sauna

A clean sauna room offers lots of benefits, which are widely recognized and validated by both longstanding tradition and contemporary research.

Ever since I started sauna myself, my overall health has improved.

Although it isn’t magical in the sense that you feel like Superman after a sauna session, the most obvious benefits are relaxation, sleep, and recovery.

My sleep significantly got better once I started heat therapy. Here is my article on the health benefits of sauna after a workout, which is when I use it the most:

The most important benefit of sauna stated by many researchers and doctors is that it reduces mortality rate by as high as 50%.

It also is reported that doing sauna for more than 20 minutes lowers the risks of heart-related problems.

Here are some more benefits associated with regular sauna use:

  • Enhanced Circulation
  • Muscle Relaxation and Recovery
  • Stress Reduction
  • Immune System Boost
  • Skin Cleansing
  • Joint Pain Relief
  • Works Out Your Cardiovascular Health
  • Mental Health Benefits
  • Better Sleep
  • Helps With Temporary Weight Loss

The claim that sauna helps with weight loss is…misleading. It does make you lose weight, but it’s all water weight, which you will gain back when you hydrate. ..

Sauna still burns calories and improves your metabolism, however. Read my article on how many calories does a sauna burn? to understand more.

Who Is Eligible To Use the Sauna?

who can use the sauna
Please read carefully below for further explanation. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure about sauna usage.

A sauna is one of the best creations when it comes to recovery, health, and wellness. Sauna sessions can help turn the odds in your favor in terms of lower mortality rates, heart diseases, and more.

Although the benefits are numerous, they sometimes can hurt a person if he has an underlying condition. Let’s see who can get in the sauna in the first place:

  • All healthy individuals over the age of 16. Most health officials suggest kids under the age of 16 avoid the sauna.

  • Sedentary Individuals. If you are disabled or can’t move too much, a sauna is a great way to increase cardiovascular health benefits without moving too much.

  • Athletes looking to recover from inflammation and muscle soreness.

  • People with Certain Chronic Pain and Conditions. With a doctor’s approval, individuals with conditions like arthritis may find relief in the heat of a sauna.

Here is a list of people who SHOULD AVOID THE SAUNA:

  • Pregnant women. They risk overheating and hinder the potential development of the fetus.

  • Individuals with Cardiovascular Conditions. Those with unstable angina, recent myocardial infarction, or severe aortic stenosis are often advised to avoid saunas.

  • People with Respiratory Issues. The heat and humidity of a sauna may worsen conditions like severe asthma or bronchitis.

  • Those with Neurological Conditions. Certain conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate heat, such as multiple sclerosis, may be negatively impacted by sauna use.

  • Kids under the age of 16. Kids and the sauna are kind of a grey area. Usually, those under the age of 16 should avoid it. For older kids, their heat tolerance is not that high, and their times should be way shorter than those of adults.

My Advice

For safety reasons, don’t let anyone under 16 use the sauna. If however, you do, then absolutely never let older children use the sauna by themselves.

Sauna Safety Tips

visual representation of dangers of sauna

Dehydration

As you know, heat exposure makes you sweat. And when you sweat, you lose important minerals, let alone water. Staying hydrated is crucial.

Drink plenty of water before and after your sauna session to avoid dehydration.

Proper nutrition is also necessary to compensate for the losses. Electrolyte drinks and mineral-rich foods will do you good.

Too hot temperatures

If the sauna is too hot for you to handle, then proceed carefully and step out as soon as you feel dizzy or uncomfortable to avoid overheating.

Blood Pressure

Sauna bathing makes your body hotter, and for your body to adjust, it lowers blood pressure. This might be dangerous for people with lower blood pressure naturally.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy, or contrast therapy, is a trending therapy that is taking the health and fitness world by storm, and rightly so.

It is reported that the combination of sauna with cold plunge boosts the benefits it has on your body, such as reduced inflammation, better blood flow and circulation, and help with injuries.

It typically goes this way: one round of hot therapy (sauna, hot bath) for 15 minutes, followed by hopping on the cold shower or bath for 3 minutes, and so on.

You can also use tools and products that mimic the effects of saunas and ice baths, such as cold therapy machines.

The cycle must be repeated for up to 4 times. Always finish on cold exposure to avoid inflammation from kicking in.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the ideal temperature for a sauna session?

The ideal temperature ranges from 150°F to 195°F (65°C to 90°C), depending on personal preference and tolerance.

2. Can sauna sessions help with weight loss?

Saunas can aid in weight loss by increasing heart rate and metabolism, similar to the effects of a light cardiovascular workout.

3. How often can I safely use the sauna?

Most individuals can enjoy the sauna 3-4 times a week, but it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

4. Is it safe to use the sauna daily?

Daily use is safe for those without underlying health conditions, but it’s crucial to maintain hydration and monitor your body’s response.

5. What should I do after a sauna session?

Cooling down with a shower and rehydrating with water or electrolyte-rich drinks is recommended.

6. Are there any risks associated with sauna use?

While saunas are generally safe, risks can include dehydration and heatstroke if safety guidelines are not followed.

Conclusion

I know this was a lot of information to take in but know that if you made it this far, it means you are a wiser individual.

If you are still confused, I suggest the general rule of thumb: 20 minutes of sauna at 80 degrees Celsius.

A sauna isn’t about the right amount of time and temperature. The idea is to get yourself in a sauna in the first place. One session of 5 minutes is better than no session at all.

With that being said, happy sauna my friends!

Sources

Huberman, A. (2023, September 20). Deliberate heat exposure protocols for Health & Performance. Huberman Lab. https://www.hubermanlab.com/newsletter/deliberate-heat-exposure-protocols-for-health-and-performance

Laukkanen JA, Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK. Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018 Aug;93(8):1111-1121. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.008. PMID: 30077204.

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