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Sauna Time and Temperature: How Hot and How Long Should a Sauna Session Be?

How hot and how long should a sauna session be

Navigating sauna temperature and session length can be tricky. Is hotter better? How long is too long? This compact guide demystifies sauna use, exploring everything from optimal temperatures to session durations for both traditional and infrared saunas. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned sauna-goer, we’ll equip you with the knowledge for a safe, enjoyable, and beneficial sauna experience. Let’s get heated and learn the art of the perfect sauna session.


What the Best Temperature and Amount of Time to Be in a Sauna?

When it comes to sauna sessions, understanding the duration and temperature aspects is crucial. Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this, there are general guidelines you can follow. You’ll first need to consider the type of sauna you are using , as this will determine the temperature and time you should spend in it.


Traditional Sauna Best Temperature and Time

For a traditional saunas, also known as Finnish or dry saunas, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 71-77˚C (160-170˚F).

For beginners, a 10 to 15-minute session at the lower end of this temperature range is usually recommended. As you become more acclimated to the heat, you can gradually increase your session duration up to 20 minutes.

Once you get comfortable with 20 minutes, you can increase the sauna temperature but only go to 79˚C (174˚F). According to a two decade study of 2,300 Finnish men, sitting in a sauna at 174˚F degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes lowered the risk of all-cause mortality by 40 percent. So that seems be the ideal temperature and amount of time in a traditional sauna.

It’s important to note that increasing the heat in a sauna doesn’t necessarily result in increased health benefits. Saunas that exceed 174˚F don’t offer significant additional benefits, and can actually make your experience uncomfortable.


Infrared Sauna Best Temperature and Time

Infrared saunas function differently from traditional saunas, as they use infrared lamps to heat your body directly instead of heating the air around you. They typically operate at lower temperatures – around 49-60°C (120°F – 140°F). As for duration, start with 10 to 15 minutes, then slowly work your way up. Most people find 20 to 30 minutes to be optimal in getting the full benefits of an infrared sauna.


Factors Affecting Sauna Session Duration and Temperature

Though general guidelines provide a starting point, individual factors significantly influence the ideal sauna session duration and temperature.

Personal Health Condition

People with specific health conditions should be extra cautious. For example, individuals with heart diseases should consult a medical professional before hitting the sauna.

Experience and Comfort

Experience and comfort level can also affect the time spent in a sauna. It’s essential to listen to your body and avoid pushing beyond your comfort zone. If a session is uncomfortable, stop and take some time to cool down before continuing.

Age and Fitness Level

Your age and physical fitness level can play a significant role in determining how long you should spend in a sauna and at what temperature. Younger individuals or those with a higher level of fitness generally tolerate higher temperatures and longer durations better than older individuals or those with lower fitness levels.


Acclimatization is another crucial factor in determining your sauna session’s duration and temperature. If you’re new to saunas, your body might need some time to acclimate to the intense heat. Beginners should start with shorter durations and lower temperatures, gradually increasing both as they become more comfortable. Those who use saunas regularly may find they can tolerate longer sessions at higher temperatures due to their bodies being more acclimated to the conditions.


FAQ about Sauna Temperature and Time

How long does it take for a sauna to heat up?

Most traditional saunas take between 30-45 minutes to heat up. Infrared saunas, on the other hand, heat up more quickly, usually within 15-20 minutes.

Can I extend my time in the sauna if I lower the temperature?

While spending a longer time at a lower temperature in the sauna might seem like a good idea, it’s important to remember that long durations can still lead to dehydration and dizziness. Always listen to your body and take breaks when necessary.

Should I take breaks during my sauna sessions?

Yes, particularly during long sauna sessions, it’s a good idea to take breaks. Stepping out of the sauna, cooling down, and hydrating before going back in can help prevent overheating and dehydration.

Does the effectiveness of a sauna increase with the temperature?

Not necessarily. While a higher temperature will make you sweat more, the beneficial effects of a sauna—like relaxation and improved circulation—can be experienced at lower temperatures as well. It’s more about personal comfort and safety.

How long should I wait after eating to go in a sauna?

It’s typically recommended to wait at least an hour after eating before entering a sauna. This allows your body time to digest and avoids diverting blood flow to the digestive system while you’re in the heat.

Can I adjust the temperature during my sauna session?

Yes, you can adjust the temperature during your session according to your comfort. However, dramatic changes in temperature should be avoided as they can be stressful for the body.


Final thoughts on Finding the Best Sauna Temperature and Time

Saunas are powerful tools for relaxation, detoxification, and overall wellness, but like any tool, they should be used correctly. By understanding how hot your sauna should be and how long you stay in, you can make the most of your sauna experience while ensuring your safety and well-being.

Remember, the “ideal” sauna session varies greatly among individuals, based on factors such as health condition, age, fitness level, experience, and even the current state of fatigue. The critical aspect is to listen to your body, remain hydrated, and respect your limits.

Never lose sight of the fundamental purpose of a sauna: it’s a space for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s not a contest of endurance. If you start feeling unwell, it’s a signal from your body to step out and cool down.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to achieving a beneficial, enjoyable, and safe sauna experience. So, go ahead, embrace the heat, let your worries evaporate, and emerge refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer whatever life throws your way.

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