You might be among the growing number of people who enjoy saunas and want to use one every day. Saunas, after all, are celebrated for their ability to help people relax, and studies are showing that they offer significant health benefits. It makes sense to want to indulge in the experience often, even daily, but could that be overdoing it?
Using a sauna every day is safe for most healthy people. In fact, the health benefits of saunas seem to increase with regular use. Daily sauna use may not be safe if you are pregnant, have high, low, or fluctuating blood pressure, heart conditions, are prone to dizziness or fainting, or have an autoimmune disorder.
The purpose of a sauna is to increase your body temperature and make you sweat, as heat and perspiration can bring health benefits. When used properly, saunas can be life-enhancing for most people. There are some risks, though, so learning how to properly use a sauna and knowing your own limits will help keep your sauna safe for daily use.
The Main Health Benefits of Using a Sauna
Saunas, including infrared and traditional styles (which we’ve compared in a separate article), have been found to bring numerous health benefits. Regular sauna use can increase overall wellness, improve or prevent certain medical conditions, and enhance athletic or other physical performance. These benefits happen because of a sauna’s high heat. The hot temperature of a sauna positively affects the body. High heat has a number of effects, and many of these changes are beneficial to our health like:
- Decreases muscle tension
- Reduced amount of cortisol (the notorious stress hormone) in the body
- Boosted production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and endorphins
- Increases the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) levels to speed healing and recovery
- Causes blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow and facilitates healing
- Causes perspiration, helping the body sweat out toxins
Saunas Can Improve Overall Wellness
Being inside a sauna can be incredibly relaxing. Part of this is the heat itself, and part is the very experience of sitting in a quiet room, without distractions, without to-do lists, and without overstimulating sights and sounds. Saunas are an invitation to let go and relax. The research on this is conclusive: taking time to relieve stress is an important part of caring for our mental and physical health. Saunas can be good for social health, too. When you enjoy a period of relaxation in the sauna with friends or family members, you feel a sense of closeness and connection that deepens relationships.
Medical Conditions Helped by Regular Sauna Use
A longitudinal study conducted in Finland beginning in 1984, continuing over time, and reported in 2015, found that men who used saunas more often had a decreased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, sudden death from a heart attack, fatal coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and death from other causes. Those who experienced the greatest reduction in risk are the ones who used saunas four to seven times per week over time.
Regular sauna use has also been shown to decrease muscle and joint pain. It also is linked to improved symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and fibromyalgia. Saunas can also improve skin conditions like psoriasis. People with chronic fatigue syndrome have reported that using a sauna helps their symptoms.
Saunas are associated with helping lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Sauna use is also linked to better sleep. Saunas can enhance immune system function, too. Some research has revealed that sauna use might improve the body’s ability to fight colds and cases of flu, and it can keep seasonal allergy symptoms at bay, which some believe has to do with the way in which saunas tend to decrease cortisol as this study points out.
Sauna Use and Improved Physical Performance
Using a sauna briefly before a workout can be a helpful warm-up, as it loosens muscles and prepares you for intense action. And it’s reported that routinely using a sauna after a workout helps improve endurance and muscle growth, (likely because of the increase in HGH mentioned above). If you do this, though, be sure make the pre-workout sauna trip strictly a warm-up, with the longer recovery session after. As we’ve explored in a separate article [LINK PENDING], an intense sauna session before a workout can lead to dehydration and reduced performance during the workout.
And in general, saunas are best used as part of long-term recovery rather than for immediate relief after an injury or even strenuous exercise. It’s ice rather than heat that facilitates initial healing by reducing inflammation. Saunas take over and boost recovery over time, another reason why daily sauna use might not only be safe but be beneficial as well. Saunas can be good for people in so many different ways. However, is regular use always beneficial, and are saunas good for everyone?
Is Using a Sauna Every Day Safe?
Saunas are generally considered to be safe for daily use by healthy adults, especially if you use a hygrometer (on Amazon) to ensure you have the right humidity and temperature levels. The biggest risk for healthy individuals is dehydration. The point of a sauna is to make you sweat. Perspiration, though, removes not just toxins but necessary fluids. It’s extremely important to stay well-hydrated when you use a sauna. Daily (and sometimes even occasional) sauna use is not recommended for some people. Consult with your doctor before you decide to try a sauna if you:
- Are pregnant (elevating your body temperature can be dangerous for both you and your baby)
- Are a man who is trying to start a family (it’s suspected that saunas may reduce sperm count and motility)
- Have high, low, or fluctuating blood pressure
- Have a heart condition such as abnormal heart rhythms, angina, heart disease, or advanced heart failure (While the above-mentioned Finnish study did find that regular sauna use reduced heart problems in men, the men who entered the study did not have pre-existing heart conditions.)
- Are prone to dizziness or fainting
- Have an autoimmune disorder (Sauna use has been found to alleviate symptoms of many autoimmune disorders, but it is unknown whether they’re safe during flare-ups, and every person’s experience with autoimmune diseases is unique.)
If you have any doubt about whether daily sauna use is safe for you, check with your doctor before you begin. Everyone is different, and you and your doctor are in the best position to decide if sauna use is okay for you and whether you can use a sauna every day. To maximize the benefits and ensure the safety of daily sauna use, it’s important to follow proper procedures.
For Daily Use, Be Sure You’re Using the Sauna Properly
While we mentioned this already, it is so important that it’s worth mentioning again: Stay hydrated by drinking at least a full glass of water before and after your time in the sauna. If you’re new to the sauna experience, begin gradually, spending only five to 10 minutes the first several times. Once your body is used to it, you can increase your time, eventually reaching 15 to 20 minutes. It can be dangerous to remain in a sauna longer than that. Most saunas have timers for this purpose, so be sure to use yours.
Many people like to have several sauna sessions in a row, enjoying the feeling of becoming hot, then cold, then hot again. In fact, this is the traditional way of using saunas in Scandanavian countries, and there, people often jump into an ice-cold lake or roll in the snow in between sessions. In the US, some people like to use both saunas and cryotherapy in the same day (as we’ve explored in a separate article). If you want this traditional experience, be sure to allow your body time to cool off completely (and gradually) and rehydrate by drinking water between sessions.
For healthy adults, it can be safe to use a sauna every day. Not only that, but it can be relaxing and good for you, too. However, it’s important to use caution, listen to your body, drink plenty of water, and perhaps most importantly, focus on enjoying your sauna experience! If you’re uncomfortable, that’s a good sign that it may be time to take a step out and cool off.