Saunas are a fantastic way to relax and relieve sore muscles. If your gym or health club has a sauna, you might be tempted to use it. As you get more accustomed to the high heat, humidity, and peacefulness of the sauna, you’ll likely want to do it for extended periods of time. However, how long is too long? Is there a limit of time in a Sauna? How long can you stay in a sauna?
Beginners should start with 10-15 minutes in a sauna, but you can work this temperature up quickly over time. It’s not uncommon for experienced sauna users to spend 45-50 minutes in a traditional or infrared sauna, or to do multiple 25-30 minute sessions with breaks in between.
Sauna visits are great for your body. However, if you aren’t used to heat stress, it can be detrimental to your well-being if you stay in one for a long time right off the bat. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you should always hydrate before and after a sauna session. Over time you can extend the length of your sauna stay. If you want to understand why you should limit your time in the sauna and how it affects your body, read on to learn more!
The Limiting Factor for Sauna Use Time: Hydration
The main thing you have to worry about with extended sauna use is your hydration. In fact, it is likely the first thing you will notice if you stay in the sauna for too long. However, dehydration can sneak up on you so it is important to drink water regularly if you intend on staying in the sauna for a long time.
Drink water, electrolytes, or whatever hydrating beverage you prefer before and after your sauna session. With all the sweat you will be losing, it can be hard to keep up with hydrating. Also, you might notice you weigh less after the sauna visit. However, this is only water weight you are losing – don’t visit a sauna and stay longer with the intent of losing weight, because though saunas can help you lose a small amount of weight over time, the instantaneous weight change day-of is from the water you sweated out, that you’ll regenerate quickly.
Too much time in the sauna has been linked to decreased fertility in men. So, if you are planning or trying to get pregnant with your partner, you should try to limit your sauna visit and your length of stay. Another limiting factor to an extended sauna session is how well you feel. If you cannot tolerate the heat, you might be looking for the door.
If you want to get out sooner than you planned that’s perfectly fine. Listen to your body, it knows what’s best for you. As mentioned earlier in this article, you should limit your sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes. However, some sauna enthusiasts are able to use a sauna for up to 50 minutes comfortably. If you want to work up to this level, you can slowly try to get there with minor additions to each subsequent sauna session. You should be fine so as long as you stay hydrated.
How Sauna Heat Affects Your Body
When you enter a sauna, your body will instantly start reacting to the heat. It will begin its temperature regulating response. In other words, your body will attempt to cool your body. It will try to cool your body by initiating sweating, increasing your heart rate, and bring more blood to your skin.
The temperature regulating response is also an extreme health benefit for your circulatory system. The response from your body works your circulatory system much like exercise does. A routine increase in heart rate and blood flow does wonders for your health. Saunas also make you sweat a ton too; it’s one of the more noticeable effects. However, if you sweat too much, you can get dehydrated. If you stop sweating, that’s a sign of dehydration, and you should stop and get out of the sauna.
Sauna use is about promoting your health and is not meant to be adverse. Protecting your health is exactly why you shouldn’t stay in a sauna too long. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that there are many types of saunas and the amount of time you spend in them will vary. A sauna blanket like this one from Amazon, for example, has to be used in a different way.
Time Limits for Different Types of Sauna Use
A traditional sauna is typically heated by a wood-burning stove or an electric heater. The heaters usually warm sauna stones while a bucket and ladle are used to splash water on the hot sauna rocks to increase the humidity. The rocks are hot enough that when the water comes in contact with it, the water instantly boils into steam.
Traditional Sauna Time Limits
Traditional saunas are recommended to be used for just 10-15 minutes at a time. However, as your body adapts to the sauna, you can add on 5-10 minutes at a time and work your way up to 50-60 minutes. However, (we’ll reiterate) it is essential to stay hydrated no matter how long your sauna visit lasts. Additionally, you can leave the sauna for 5 to 10 minutes and then come back. The break will let your body readjust to a normal state.
Infrared Sauna Time Limits
Infrared (IR) saunas don’t heat the air around you as explained in our guide on IR saunas; they heat your body directly with the same infrared radiation produced by the sun. Since the air is not heated, the temperature inside an infrared sauna is generally much lower.
Therefore, you should be able to stay in an infrared sauna longer than a traditional sauna without feeling discomfort or the effects of dehydration. When you visit an infrared sauna, follow the same length of time stipulations. Start with 10-15 minutes to start with, then extend the length incrementally with each visit.
Steam Room Time Limits
As you’d know if you’ve seen our guide on steam rooms and saunas, steam rooms are not technically saunas. However, they are often referred to as “wet saunas.” They are usually outfitted with tile interiors and steam pumps that fill the room entirely with steam. Generally, the steam room is so filled with steam that you cannot see more than 1-2 feet in front of you.
Steam rooms have lower temperatures than traditional saunas. However, they usually feel hotter because the hot steam is in direct contact with your skin. Also, since it is so moist, the evaporative cooling effect of your sweat doesn’t work so well when it’s instantly heated by steam.
Steam rooms should be used with the same caution as traditional and IR saunas. If you’re a beginner, start with 10-15 minutes, then work your way up to 50-60 minutes or more. Just remember – stay hydrated!