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Sauna Tips

Saunas are a popular choice for people seeking amazing health benefits such as detoxification, relaxation, improved sleep, and more. However, using a sauna can be intimidating for beginners. To help you get the most out of your sauna experience safely and effectively, this article will provide you with the top 14 sauna tips for beginners.

 

14 Amazing Sauna Tips and Tricks for Beginners

 

Avoid alcohol before entering in a sauna

There isn’t much scientific information available on the combined effects of alcohol and sauna use. However, in Finland (with a population of 4.8 million), it’s estimated that alcohol contributes to about 20 to 25 sauna-related deaths each year [1].

This indicates how dangerous alcohol consumption can be before and during sauna use. According to research, combining sauna use with alcohol increases the risk of low blood pressure [2]. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on your body, especially when consumed in large quantities [3], and when combined with sauna use, the risk of dehydration increases even further.

Therefore, you should only use the sauna once all the alcohol you drank is completely out of your system. Don’t go into the sauna if you’re still feeling the effects of the alcohol.

 

Don’t eat heavy meals before entering a sauna

Don’t eat big meals before using a sauna. Big meals make your body send blood to your stomach to help digest. But in a sauna, your body needs blood to keep you cool. If your body sends blood to your stomach instead, it can make you feel sick or uncomfortable. 

Examples of heavy meals to avoid include foods high in fats, such as fried foods and fatty cuts of meat, as well as high-protein meals like chicken and fish. Spicy foods should also be avoided as they can cause discomfort during the sauna.

It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours after eating a meal before using the sauna. If you experience discomfort or dizziness while using the sauna after eating, leave and wait until the food is digested before returning. Opt for lightweight foods that are easy to digest, such as fruits, vegetable salad, yogurt, or vegetable or chicken broth.

 

Avoid caffeine before sauna

Caffeine actually acts as a diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more. Many people who consume drinks containing caffeine end up urinating more frequently. Whether it causes complete dehydration is hard to determine, but it does play a role in dehydration, says Sameer Islam, MD.

When consuming caffeine before using a sauna, dehydration might increase due to increased fluid loss through sweat caused by the heat, coupled with the diuretic effect of caffeine. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid caffeine before using a sauna and to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Drinking caffeine leads to the release of two hormones, noradrenaline and norepinephrine, which can speed up heart rate [4]. A study found that heart rate significantly increased during a sauna session.

This rise indicates that the heart is working harder, with the physical stress on the heart being similar to that experienced during moderate exercise [5].

These Research suggests that both caffeine and sauna use increase heart rate, which is why consuming caffeine can lead to a further increase in heart rate, which in turn adds extra strain on the cardiovascular system.

 

Stay Hydrated

According to research, Using a sauna can disrupt your body’s fluid balance, making you sweat and feel thirsty as it interferes with your body’s ability to regulate fluids.

Although you don’t lose a lot of fluids in a sauna, it’s crucial to replace what you do lose to stay hydrated. The best way to do this is by sipping small amounts of liquid while in the sauna [6].

 

Wear proper sauna attire

Wearing appropriate attire in the sauna is essential for both comfort and health benefits. You can cover yourself with a towel or wear a sauna kilt, bathrobe, or swimsuit. Opt for clothing made of natural, breathable fabrics to prevent overheating and ensure a comfortable experience.

 

Don’t bring any electronics in the sauna

Heat and humidity in a sauna can damage electronics like smartwatches, phones, and headphones. The sauna is meant for relaxation, and bringing devices can be distracting.

Additionally, using a phone with a camera can make others uncomfortable due to privacy concerns. To respect everyone’s privacy and ensure your electronics are safe, it’s best to leave your devices outside.

 

Avoid Smoking

Nicotine, found in cigarettes, can lead to dehydration, with each cigarette typically containing between 1 to 2 milligrams of nicotine. To avoid dehydration, it’s recommended to refrain from smoking before entering the sauna. The most effective way to stay hydrated during sauna sessions is by drinking plenty of water.

 

Shower before or after the sauna

Before stepping into the sauna, consider taking a warm shower. Not only does it ensure cleanliness and prevent bringing any dirt into the sauna, but it also relaxes your muscles, enhancing your sauna experience. Make sure you are completely dry before entering the sauna to avoid discomfort.

 

After your sauna session, taking a shower helps cleanse your skin, as sweat releases toxins from the body. This cleansing process is important for removing impurities and refreshing your skin. A cold shower helps cool down your body after the sauna’s heat.

However, it’s best to avoid showering while you’re still sweating to prevent sudden temperature changes, which could be harmful to your health.

 

Remove Jewelry

Before stepping into a sauna, it’s essential to remove any jewelry you’re wearing. The intense heat in the sauna can cause metal parts in jewelry to quickly heat up, potentially leading to skin burns. 

Additionally, sweating in a sauna while wearing jewelry can cause discomfort and skin irritation, detracting from your overall sauna experience. Furthermore, the heat in the sauna can damage your jewelry over time. 

Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid wearing jewelry such as rings, necklaces, and bracelets when entering a sauna to ensure a comfortable and safe experience for your skin and your accessories alike.

 

Use a Towel to sit on the sauna bench

To prevent direct contact with the sauna bench and to avoid transferring sweat, oil, or other bodily residues, it’s advisable to use a towel.

This practice maintains hygiene for both yourself and others who may use the sauna after you. Sauna benches are typically made of wood, and placing a towel on the hard surface before sitting on it can enhance comfort during your sauna session.

However, it’s essential to take precautions to ensure cleanliness. Always use a clean towel for each sauna session to maintain hygiene.

Additionally, refrain from sharing towels with others, as this can spread germs and bacteria. Opt for towels made from natural fibers like pure cotton or a blend of cotton and linen, avoiding synthetic materials.

Alternatively, if towels aren’t available, consider using a bathrobe or a sauna kilt made from natural fabrics. These alternatives provide a comfortable sauna experience while still preventing direct contact between your skin and the sauna bench.

 

Adjust Temperature

Recent research examines sauna-related deaths in Finland, revealing that less than 2 out of every 100,000 people die in a sauna each year. About 25% of these deaths are due to heat exposure [7].

Two specific cases involved victims found in closed saunas with high temperatures, and autopsies found no other causes of death besides heat shock [8]. This suggests that heat exposure is one of the main causes of sudden death in saunas, although such deaths are very rare.

To ensure safety, it is important not to sit in a sauna at very high temperatures. Traditional saunas generally range between 70-90°C, while infrared saunas are much cooler, at 38-65°C.

Listen to your body and set the sauna temperature accordingly. If you feel uncomfortable or overheated, leave the sauna immediately.

 

Avoid wearing shoes in a sauna

Wearing shoes in the sauna brings in outside dirt, which can damage the floor and contaminate the clean environment. Additionally, shoes can make you uncomfortable in the heat and sweaty conditions.

Going barefoot is not recommended either, as it increases the risk of athlete’s foot. The best option is to wear slip-resistant flip-flops or shower sandals in the sauna.

 

Use a Sauna Hat

Sauna Hat

In a sauna, a sauna hat serves as a shield, protecting your head, ears, and hair from the intense heat. 

Made from sauna-friendly fabric like wool felt, these hats act as a barrier against the sauna heat, ensuring your hair remains unscathed. 

Moreover, they prevent hair from falling into your face due to sweating, which can otherwise be irritating and distracting.

By wearing a sauna hat, you can enhance your sauna experience by keeping your head cool, your hair protected, and enjoying the sauna environment.

 

Don’t wear dirty clothes in sauna

To ensure a pleasant sauna experience, it’s important to avoid wearing dirty clothes for several reasons. Firstly, in the sauna’s warmth, dirty clothes can release unpleasant odors, making you and others uncomfortable.

Moreover, wearing dirty clothes can cause discomfort once you start sweating. To enhance your sauna session, opt for clean clothes instead.

 

References

  • The sauna and alcohol

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3218903/

 

  • Alcohol and sauna bathing

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1588256/

 

  • Does alcohol dehydrate you?

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/does-alcohol-dehydrate-you

 

  • What effect does caffeine have on your heart?

https://health.ucdavis.edu/news/headlines/qa-what-effect-does-caffeine-have-on-your-heart/2023/12

 

  • The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31126559/

 

  • The sauna and body fluid balance

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3218897/

 

  • Death in sauna

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18471223/

 

  • Death in the sauna-vitality markers for heat exposure

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8036176/

 

  • How much nicotine is in a cigarette compared to a vape?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jun/23/how-much-nicotine-is-in-a-cigarette-compared-to-a-vape

 

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