How to Use a Sauna for Health & Relaxation – A Complete Guide

Serene and inviting home sauna room with comfortable seating, illustrating how to use a sauna for health and relaxation

Sweating in a Sauna provides incredible health benefits, but do you know how to use a Sauna properly and safely?

Multiple studies have found associations between regular Sauna bathing and:

  • Reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Enhanced Immunity
  • Detoxification
  • Enhanced heart function

In this article, you’ll find expert advice on how to get ready for and use a Sauna safely, even if you have specific health goals in mind. You’ll learn about the health benefits of Sauna, the types of saunas, and how to choose the ideal one based on your needs.

This detailed guide will guide you through all you need to know to begin enjoying Saunas and enhancing your well-being.

Read on to unlock the full power of Sauna therapy!

Quick Summary

>>> Preparation: Take a shower, hydrate, remove jewelry, and choose proper clothing.

>>> During the Sauna: Start with shorter sessions, stay hydrated, and take breaks as needed.

>>> Post-Sauna Care: Cool down, shower, and drink water.

>>> Specific Health Goals: Adjust sessions for relaxation, detoxification, muscle recovery, or stress relief. Understanding different sauna types helps in targeting these goals.

>>> Safety: Avoid alcohol, consult a doctor if needed, and focus on hydration.

What is a Sauna?

Let’s just quickly define Saunas for those who are new to the concept.

A Sauna is a small room or enclosure designed to heat up to very high temperatures, usually with dry or wet heat. Individuals are supposed to sit or recline in this heated space.

The goal is to make you sweat out toxins and impurities while providing total relaxation for body and mind.

Saunas aren’t new. Sauna therapy has been an integral part of Finnish culture for over 2000 years, with over 2 million Saunas in Finland for its population of 5 million.

How to Prepare for a Sauna Session

Proper preparation before a Sauna session helps ensure a comfortable, safe, and beneficial experience. Here’s how to get ready:

  • Choose an appropriate time for sauna: Whether it’s morning or evening, schedule your sauna session for a time when you can truly unwind and when you’re not in a rush.
  • Shower: Take a warm shower using soap prior to your Sauna session to clean your pores and get rid of dead skin. It also washes away all dirt and bacteria.
  • Hydrate: Drink 16-20 oz. of water in the 1-2 hours before your Sauna. Proper hydration prevents overheating and dehydration.
  • Use the restroom: Empty your bladder before entering the Sauna. The heat can make you need to urinate frequently.
  • Remove jewelry: Take off rings, watches, bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry. Metal can get very hot, and jewelry traps heat.
  • Tie back hair: Pull long hair up into a bun or ponytail. This prevents excessive sweating around your neck and shoulders.
  • Choose appropriate sauna wear: Wear comfortable, breathable, light clothing like workout clothes or swimwear. Avoid restrictive clothing.
  • Wear a towel: Sit or lie on a towel during your Sauna session to absorb sweat and keep the benches clean.
  • Have water nearby to drink during and after.
  • Have all accessories ready: Make sure to carry all your essential accessories, like your bucket, ladle, whisk, aromatic oils, etc., inside the sauna.
  • Set a timer: Use a timer or stopwatch to track how long you stay in the sauna. It’s easy to lose track once you’re inside.

Must Read: The Top Sauna Accessories in 2024

Preparing your body and the Sauna space will lead to a more pleasant, hygienic, and healthy Sauna session. Following this Sauna protocol gets your body ready to sweat out toxins and prevents overheating.

Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive into how to use a sauna properly and effectively.

How to Use a Sauna: Best Practices For a Beneficial and Safe Sauna Experience

Pouring water over sauna stones with a ladle, generating steam in a traditional sauna session
Traditional Sauna Session

My first time in a Sauna was a game-changer. The heat wrapped around me like a warm blanket, and the gentle, woodsy scent made me feel at ease.

Using a Sauna properly involves starting low and slow, listening to your body, staying hydrated, and taking the necessary precautions.

Start Low and Slow

  • Go into the Sauna and take a seat or lie down on a bench or the floor. Relax and breathe deeply.
  • Begin with just 5-10 minutes in the Sauna, especially on your first few sessions.
  • Gradually increase the duration as your body adapts to the heat. Work up to 15-30 minute sessions.
  • Start at lower temperatures, around 150°F and slowly increase the heat over time.
  • Give your body time to adapt to any increases in duration or temperature.

Listen to Your Body

  • Take breaks as needed. Leave the Sauna periodically to cool down and rehydrate.
  • Cool your core by splashing water on your face, head, and chest area.
  • Pay attention to any discomfort and end your session if you feel overheated, fatigued, or ill at any point.
  • Headache, nausea, and dizziness are signs to exit the Sauna immediately.

Recently, I had a chat with an expert who knows saunas inside out. He told me about the importance of listening to your body. ‘It’s not about enduring the heat,’ he said, ‘but about finding your personal comfort zone.’
He shared tips like alternating between hot and cool areas and staying hydrated. The guy’s been hitting the sauna for years, and you can tell – his tips were spot on.
It’s clear he believes being safe and having a good time in the sauna are two peas in a pod.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after using the Sauna.
  • Coconut water or an electrolyte drink helps replenish minerals lost through sweating.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or sugary drinks, which can lead to dehydration.

Entering a sauna is a journey of the senses. The initial wave of heat that greets you can be surprising. As your body adjusts, the warmth becomes a soothing embrace. The gentle hiss of water hitting those hot stones makes the whole place feel peaceful. Then, when you step out, that fresh, cool air hits you – it’s like a burst of energy, totally refreshing. Every time you’re in there, it’s this awesome mix of warmth, those soothing sounds, and just chilling out.

Post-Sauna Care

  • Shower after your Sauna session to rinse off sweat and close your pores.
  • Rest and rehydrate for 10-20 minutes after your Sauna session to lower your heart rate.

Take Necessary Precautions

  • Never use a Sauna alone if you are a newbie – have a friend with you in case you need assistance.
  • Avoid exercising, vigorous movement, or stretching in the Sauna – this can lead to injury.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal for 2 hours pre-sauna.
  • Place a towel underneath you in the Sauna to avoid burns on benches.

Using proper precautions makes Sauna use safe and prevents injuries or medical emergencies.

This basic Sauna usage protocol allows your body to gradually adapt as you work up to longer sessions.

FUN SAUNA TIP: For those who love Saunas, try ‘Loyly.’ It’s a Finnish trick where you throw water on hot rocks to make steam. It’s a great way to add fun and enjoyment to your Sauna experience.

Sauna Safety Tips

While Saunas provide many amazing health benefits, improper use of a sauna can be dangerous. So it’s important to understand how to use a sauna safely to prevent any risks.

Make sure to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Avoid locking the Sauna door – Do not lock yourself inside.
  • Never use a Sauna under the influence – Avoid alcohol, medications, or drugs before or during your session.
  • Check with your doctor – Make sure Sauna usage is safe if you have any medical conditions or take medications.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your session. Dehydration is dangerous.
  • Begin with short 5-10 minute sessions at lower temperatures around 150°F.
  • Leave the Sauna if you experience any discomfort, dizziness, nausea, or headache.
  • Keep it under an hour – Limit Sauna sessions to 30 minutes or less, especially when starting out.

Using a Sauna safely will ensure you gain all the benefits without any risks.

Elegant sauna interior design with artistic wall decoration and sleek benches, embodying modern relaxation
Modern Home Sauna

Now, we are going to take a closer look at the numerous health benefits of saunas, backed by science.

Health Benefits of Using a Sauna

Using a Sauna offers many evidence-based health benefits. From athletic recovery to pain relief to immune defense, Saunas can be an impactful element of a healthy lifestyle when used properly.

  • Relaxation – The heat induces relaxation, while the privacy provides a quiet space for meditation or reflection. This can lower stress and anxiety levels.
  • Pain relief – The heat temporarily relieves minor aches and pains in muscles and joints. This can reduce symptoms of arthritis or fibromyalgia.
  • Detoxification – Heating the body aids in the elimination of toxins through sweating. Some research shows Saunas may help remove heavy metals.
  • Weight loss – A 30-minute session can burn up to 300 calories in a sauna. Regular use stimulates metabolism and may aid weight loss.
  • Improved circulation – Heating the body increases heart rate similarly to exercise, improving blood flow and circulation.
  • Lower blood pressure – Regular Sauna use helps blood vessels stay flexible and elastic, contributing to lower blood pressure.
  • Immune function – Some studies link using a Sauna 2-3 times per week with fewer colds and flu infections.
  • Skin health – Sweating deeply cleanses skin pores and may help treat acne. Increased circulation provides nutrients to the skin.

Ever since I began making Saunas a regular part of my routine, I’ve found that my sleep has improved, and I feel more at ease. Using the Sauna has really lifted my overall health and well-being.

The many health perks that come with using a sauna make a compelling case for their inclusion in self-care routines. Learn more about the timeline needed to see the benefits of using a sauna.

Now, let’s explore how to use a sauna properly to achieve specific health and wellness goals.

How to Use a Sauna for Specific Health and Wellness Goals

Beyond general health and stress relief, Saunas can target specific wellness goals. Get creative with your Sauna usage to accomplish those goals!

Here’s how to tailor your sessions:

For Relaxation

  • Use lower temps of 110-130°F
  • Set up a peaceful environment with calm music, meditation aids, or essential oils.
  • Use alone for introspection.
  • Focus on deep breathing to lower your heart rate and clear your mind.
  • Stretch gently after heating and showering to relax tense muscles.
  • Follow your Sauna session with other relaxing activities like yoga, massage, or reading.

For Pain Relief

  • Increase the temperature (up to 170°F) or duration (up to 45 minutes) slightly above your comfort zone.
  • Target joint or muscle pain by applying a warm towel directly to the area during your session.
  • Follow up with a gentle range of motion exercises for the affected joints or muscles.
  • Maintain hydration and electrolyte levels to prevent muscle cramps afterward.
  • Repeat daily to reduce inflammation.

For Detoxification

  • Use hotter temperatures around 150-180°F to induce heavy sweating.
  • Scrub your skin with a loofah before your session to boost circulation and open pores.
  • Do intense 30-60 minute sweats.
  • Shower immediately after the Sauna detox and wash your hair and face thoroughly.
  • Drink extra fluids like water and green tea to flush out toxins.
  • Drink electrolytes to replenish.
  • Repeat 3 times a week.

For Weight Loss

  • Use the Sauna at least 3 times a week for 45-60 minutes to boost metabolism.
  • Use intervals of high and low heat.
  • For best results, pair your Sauna sessions with a balanced diet and consistent exercise.
  • Weigh yourself regularly under consistent conditions to track any changes.
  • Ensure proper hydration and electrolyte intake to prevent dehydration or fatigue.
    Learn more about Saunas and weight loss on the heath line.

For Athletic Performance

  • Use the Sauna after workouts when muscles are warm to aid recovery and growth.
  • Use temperatures between 160-190°F for maximum benefit.
  • Spend 15-30 minutes per session, 2-3 times per week. More frequent use can lead to dehydration.
  • Alternate between hot and cold therapy – spend 10 minutes in the hot Sauna, then take a cold shower. This contrast therapy improves circulation.
  • Stay hydrated before and after to replace fluids lost from sweating.
  • Follow with light activity like walking while muscles are warm.

For Skin Health

  • Use lower temperatures around 140-150°F. Extreme heat can dry out the skin.
  • Limit sessions to 10-15 minutes max. Longer Sauna durations increase the risk of dehydration.
  • Wash your face beforehand to open pores. Exfoliate gently with a scrub.
  • Shower afterward to rinse away sweat and close pores. Use cool water.
  • Moisturize within 5 minutes of exiting the Sauna while pores are open.
  • Stay hydrated before, during, and after to replenish moisture lost from sweating.
  • Use a hydrating face mask after sessions while the skin absorbs moisture well.
  • Apply antioxidant serums or creams afterward to nourish skin cells.

Adjusting Sauna time, Sauna temperature, and supplemental activities can help you meet your specific wellness goals. Always listen to your body, and don’t overdo it.

Every time I sit in the Sauna, the warmth helps me relax, and I can feel my muscles loosening up. It’s like all my worries are melting away.

Next up, let’s take a cool trip around different cultures and see how people from different places make their sauna experiences unique and special.

Cultural Insights: Sauna Experiences Around the World

Inside view of a traditional Finnish public sauna with wooden benches and walls, and heated stones in the center
A Traditional Sauna Set-up in Finland for Socializing

Saunas are popular all around the world, but the way people use them can be really different from one place to another.

In Finland, the birthplace of saunas, they’re a space for relaxation and socializing. Families often have sauna nights, reflecting the deep cultural significance.

In contrast, in Japan, public bathhouses known as ‘onsen‘ offer a tranquil, meditative sauna experience.

When we take a look at how various cultures enjoy their sauna time, it doesn’t just open our eyes to new ideas – it also gets us thinking about trying out some of these cool traditions in our own sauna sessions.

Types of Saunas

There are several types of Saunas to choose from based on your needs and preferences.

Traditional / Conventional / Dry Sauna

The traditional sauna uses heated stones to create dry heat generated either from a wood-burning stove or an electric heater. Temperature typically ranges from 160-190°F. Traditional Saunas require more construction work but provide an authentic Sauna experience.


  • Very dry heat and the ability to add humidity
  • Can reach higher temperatures
  • Traditional feel


  • High upfront costs for materials and construction
  • Requires maintenance of the stove and ventilation

Infrared Sauna

Modern indoor infrared sauna unit in a home setting with a relaxing chair and plants, showcasing a private wellness space
Indoor Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas have lamps or panels that send out infrared rays to warm up your body directly without warming the surrounding air. Most only heat to 120-140°F but penetrate the skin to induce sweating. Infrared Saunas are lower maintenance.



  • Less authentic Sauna experience
  • Limited temperature range

Steam Sauna

Steam Saunas use wet heat from a steam generator to create a hot & humid environment. Temperatures remain around 110-120°F with nearly 100% humidity. Steam Saunas promote intense sweating.


  • Provides very humid heat
  • Can help clear nasal and chest congestion


  • Limited temperature range
  • Less authentic Sauna experience
  • Can feel uncomfortably hot for some

How to Choose the Best Sauna for You

With so many Sauna options available, it can be tricky to select the perfect one. Here are the main factors to consider when buying a Sauna:

  • Type – Compare traditional, infrared, and steam Sauna features to decide which is best for you. We have already done it for you above to help you make your decision.
  • Size – Consider how many people will use the Sauna. 1-2 person or family-sized?
  • Location – Will it be indoors or outdoors? Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Use frequency – Frequent use may warrant a more permanent luxury Sauna. Infrequent use may work with a portable sauna.
  • Budget – Sauna cost can range from $1000-$5000 depending on the type, size, materials, and features. Determine how much you can spend.
  • Power requirements – Saunas need a dedicated electrical circuit or wood burning. Make sure your home can support the Sauna.
  • Goals – Choose the Sauna type that will help you meet goals like relaxation, pain relief, weight loss, etc.

Take into account who will use it, where you can put it, and your budget. An outdoor infrared sauna with some backyard space is great for 1-2 people. A larger indoor Sauna allows more people if you have the room.

Once you choose the right Sauna for your needs, it’s easy to start enjoying the relaxation and health benefits of Saunas every day.

In the following section, discover how to elevate your sauna experience to the next level and make it even more special and enjoyable.

Creating a Relaxing Sauna Ambiance at Home

Cozy home sauna ambiance enhanced with aromatherapy, candles and warm, inviting lighting.
Cozy home sauna ambiance

Transforming your home sauna into a tranquil oasis is simple. Just add a few enhancements that engage your senses.


Incorporate relaxing scents into your Sauna session with a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, or lemongrass added to water before pouring over the hot rocks.
Sauna-safe fragrance oils also infuse the air with calming aromas.

Soothing Lighting

Install dimmable lighting or colored LED lights to set the mood.
Keep it low and use warmer tones like yellow or orange to promote relaxation.
Candlelight also adds a spa-like ambiance.

Calming Sounds

Set a peaceful backdrop with soft nature sounds, meditative music, or acoustic playlists.
Be sure audio components are moisture-resistant and keep volume levels moderate.

Cozy Touches

Ergonomic Sauna benches, pillows, and towels enhance comfort.
Have chilled cucumber water or herbal tea on hand for post-sauna rehydration.

Personalize It

Make your Sauna space unique by displaying artwork, live plants, or any special touches that customize it to your taste and promote tranquillity.
The goal is to create an oasis just for you.

With a few enhancements, your home Sauna can become a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation any time you need it.

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Sauna!

The extensive health benefits of Saunas are just waiting for you. Follow this Sauna guide to start improving your life with daily Sauna use.
Now you have all the information you need to choose your ideal Sauna, prepare for sessions, use it properly, target specific goals, and stay safe.

Here’s a quick recap of how to use a Sauna:

  • Hydrate and shower before a Sauna session.
  • Start with 5-10 minutes and slowly increase the duration.
  • Take breaks whenever you get too hot.
  • Replenish fluids and electrolytes lost while sweating.
  • Target relaxation, pain relief, detoxing, or weight loss.
  • Use basic precautions to prevent injuries.

Congratulations! You’re ready to buy your Sauna and integrate it into your self-care routine. Here’s to better health and happiness!

FAQs About How To Use A Sauna

Question 1: What should I wear in a Sauna?

Wear lightweight, breathable swimwear or a bathing suit to maintain comfort and hygiene in the Sauna’s heat. Heavy fabrics are not advisable as they can retain heat excessively and be uncomfortable.

Remove all jewelry and metal accessories to avoid any heat-induced discomfort or burns.

Always sit or lie on a clean towel to enhance personal hygiene and protect the Sauna’s wooden benches.

Question 2: How long should my Sauna session be?

For beginners, start with short sessions of 5-10 minutes to acclimate to the heat. Follow a sauna temperature guide to find the ideal heat level for your comfort and safety.

Gradually increase the duration to 15-30 minutes as you become more comfortable.

It’s essential to listen to your body for cues to exit, such as feeling too hot or uncomfortable.

Setting a timer can help keep track of time and avoid overstaying in the Sauna.

Question 3: Is dehydration a risk in Saunas?

Yes, dehydration is a risk due to the intense sweating in Saunas. It is one of the most common sauna health risks to be aware of.

To prevent dehydration, it’s crucial to hydrate adequately before, during, and after Sauna sessions.

Drinking water or electrolyte-rich drinks can help replenish fluids lost through sweating.

It’s important to monitor for signs of dehydration like dizziness or excessive thirst and hydrate accordingly.

Question 4: What are Saunas’ specific relaxation benefits?

Saunas create a peaceful setting for unwinding and easing stress. Many people, myself included, notice that time in a Sauna really helps reduce anxiety.

The warmth is comforting for your muscles and calms your mind, making it an ideal spot for some quiet meditation or deep thinking.

This makes you feel more relaxed and overall healthier.

Question 5: Can Saunas aid in pain relief?

Regular Sauna use can help in temporary relief of minor muscle and joint aches, particularly after physical activity.

The improved blood circulation from Sauna heat helps you get rid of stiffness and discomfort. This is particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia.

While Saunas provide symptomatic relief, they are not a replacement for medical treatment but rather a complementary therapy.

Question 6: What distinguishes different Sauna types?

Traditional Saunas are known for their dry heat, typically ranging between 160-190°F, and are often wood-lined for a classic Sauna experience. Sauna kits are available for those interested in setting up a traditional Sauna at home.

Infrared Saunas use infrared lamps to heat the body directly, operating at lower temperatures and providing a gentler heat experience.

Steam Saunas, also known as steam rooms, provide high humidity with temperatures around 110-120°F. These are ideal for those who prefer moist heat.

Question 7: How do I choose a suitable home Sauna?

Consider factors like the type of Sauna (traditional, infrared, or steam), the size based on the number of users, and the location (indoor, outdoor, or portable).

You also need to look at your budget, frequency of use, and specific health and wellness goals.

When picking a home sauna, it’s important to think about how easy it will be to take care of it. Good sauna maintenance ensures it stays in great shape and is safe to use.

Ensure the Sauna fits your lifestyle and space requirements.

Question 8: How do Saunas impact skin health?

Sauna use promotes sweating, which helps to cleanse the skin pores and remove impurities and toxins, contributing to clearer skin.

Increased blood flow during Sauna sessions brings nutrients to the skin surface, improving skin health, tone, and texture.

Regular Sauna users often report a healthy, radiant appearance of their skin, attributing it to the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of Sauna heat.

Question 9: How do you enhance the home Sauna ambiance?

Incorporate aromatherapy using essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, or pine to create a relaxing and therapeutic atmosphere.

Install adjustable lighting, such as dimmable or colored LED lights, to set a calming mood that complements the relaxing Sauna experience.

Adding soft, ambient music or nature sounds can further enhance relaxation and provide a spa-like atmosphere in your home Sauna.

Personalize your Sauna space with comfortable seating, ergonomic benches, and decorative elements like artwork or plants to make the Sauna experience more enjoyable.

Question 10: Are home Saunas safe for children?

Home Saunas can be safe for children when used under adult supervision and with proper precautions.

Children should have shorter Sauna sessions than adults due to their increased sensitivity to heat.

It’s important to consult a healthcare provider before allowing children to use a Sauna to ensure it’s safe for their age and health condition.

Adjusting the temperature and monitoring the child during the session are key safety measures.



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