If you have just recently been convinced of Saunas’s immense benefits on a regular basis, you might be perplexed as to how long exactly should you stay in a sauna. And in this short write-up, we will give you the single most effective duration to use in a sauna.
But first, let us clarify a sauna from other similar enterprises. Saunas are rooms, usually small/buildings usually small in size, designed primarily to experience heat. Depending on the establishment or particular whim of the users, you can experience heat in both dry and wet forms. The explanation of both forms will come soon.
Since exposure to heat varies depending on the material/design of the Sauna’s room/house itself, we will take a brief look at it.
The modern-day design of saunas is inspired by one of the earliest known users of the practice – the Finns. Who the name also comes from. Saunas are rooms that are purposely kept small in size, mainly to ensure the circulation of heat to all parts.
Wood is the material of choice in Saunas, mostly because of its low capacity to absorb heat. Hence, preventing burn that metals, glass, or tiles would give, providing a safe space to sit on.
Sauna seats are often arranged from bottom to top, forming rows of seats. This is a crucial factor when determining how long to spend there. This is because the hottest air is found in the uppermost region of any room.
And of course, there is a heat source. We have two major types, the heat storage types, and the continuous heat types.
Saunas should not be confused with steam baths, which have their roots in ancient Turkey cultures. While they offer very similar benefits and have a similar setting, the practices are quite different, and the same rules do not apply. Rather than heat transmitted primarily through radiation and convection of air in Saunas, steam baths are continuously designed to evoke hot steam into a small enclosed room.
Also, infrared therapy/saunas are not generally accepted to be a type of Sauna.
Now that we have cleared the air as to what makes a Sauna and what it is not, we can continue on our journey to figure out the most beneficial duration to stay in a Sauna.
Major Benefits of Using a Sauna
To know the limit to the duration of exposure to the high temperatures of Saunas, we must be clear of what it offers. So what are the benefits of using a sauna?
The one significant benefit everyone who visits a Sauna can testify to is its ability to relieve stress. This is caused by several factors including better circulation of blood, improved skeletal relaxation – which will both be discussed in a bit – and release hormones called endorphin, which helps reduce stress and induces a feeling of general well- being.
Heat penetrates deep into the body into the skeletal system, bringing ease and relaxation to the muscles and joints. Heat reduces inflammation, increases the elasticity of structural protein fibers in the muscle, relieves muscle cramps while decreasing stiffness and pressure on joints. These benefits make Saunas ideal places to relax and recoup after a workout.
Improved Blood Circulation
When the body is exposed to intense heat like that in Saunas, the body does it best to return the internal body temperature to a normal range. It does this in several ways, one of which is improving blood circulation to the skin.
The body dilates/relaxes the blood vessels so that more blood can flow to the skin, bringing heat along with it to be passed off to the external environment. This entire process helps to improve your blood circulation, clear blockages in the blood vessels, promote better health, and reduce the risk of stroke or heart-related issues.
The other way the body brings down its temperature is by promoting sweating. It opens up the pores, increases evaporation through sweating – which in turn lowers the overall body temperature. This helps you clean out your pores, get rid of toxic chemicals faster, leaving you with clear, supple skin.
There are other benefits associated with reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are still being worked on in the sciences. Weight loss through the use of Sauna is also a hoax since you don’t actually burn fat. Any weight loss observed is due to the loss of water.
Are there Disadvantages to Prolonged Exposure?
We can appreciate the immense benefits of using a Sauna, which begs the question, “is it harmful to stay for prolonged periods?” Different people have different opinions on how long to stay in Saunas; we must then be aware of the risks involved in prolonged sessions.
The number one and the most prominent risk involved with prolonged exposure to intense heat is dehydration. Since your body is using its water to cool you, reducing its overall temperature continuously, you quickly run out of water for other primary body functions.
When water depletion levels in the body start to reach 10 percent, you begin observing the symptoms, which may include dizziness, fatigue, and general discomfort. If you keep it up, you start to experience mental disorientation as well.
Your body in time would start conserving water, constricting the once dilated blood vessels. This increases the blood pressure. Forcing your body to choose between reducing heat and saving water can have a severe strain on your heart, leading to hypertension.
Effects on Fertility
Intense exposure to prolonged heat sources can also affect fertility in men. The scrotum relaxes, exposing the sperm to the heat, which can kill them off, leading to low sperm count. It can take over a month to recover and return the sperm count to its normal levels. Especially in the early stages, pregnant women can also expose the fetus to unsafe temperatures, which can cause defects.
The Perfect Duration to stay in saunas
We have juggled both sides of the story and can now conclude that while the benefits of using a sauna on a regular basis are tremendous, we can easily overdo it by prolonged exposure. And as we have promised, we will help you establish a great system for using the Sauna.
- Since there is no set duration or agreed time to use the Sauna for, many sources advise leaving once you start getting uncomfortable. We somewhat agree with this, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, but you should know that the most benefits set in once the discomfort starts, so we say wait it out a minute or two after the discomfort begins before you leave.
- People who have used saunas for longer can tolerate higher temperatures for longer. Hence, you can build your tolerance to heat over time as a beginner starts with 10-minute sessions. You should also choose lower seats and increase the distance between you and the source of heat.
- It works best when you use the saunas at intervals. You can take a shower and drink water to recoup the ones you lost in the previous session. This way, you can stay heated for longer with fewer detriments.
Follow your gut feeling and see a doctor if you have existing heart conditions before using a sauna. Follow the best practices with the use of Saunas in your specific region and make the best use of the experience. Good luck.