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The Guide To Sauna Duration: How Long To Stay in a Sauna for Benefits

Saunas are cocoons of solace that help avid users across the world boost their health. Whether you prefer the classic setting of a traditional sauna or the technology of an infrared sauna, sauna bathing provides both physical and mental health benefits. 

Despite the volume of research on saunas’ positive effects, it’s worth questioning how long to stay in a sauna for benefits. Staying inside a sauna for a shorter time won’t help you reap its full benefits. Staying for longer than necessary can be harmful to your health. 

We’ve compiled a guide to help you determine how much time is safe to spend in a sauna, while still reaping vital health benefits. 

How Long To Stay in a Sauna for Health Benefits?

Saunas are a product of the ancient world. When the Finnish first used them, they advocated against timing them. Instead, they recommended listening to your body and exiting the sauna when it felt hot enough. While this is ideal, it isn’t as easy to implement. 

Through the years, sauna studies endorsed that sauna use should be limited to a prescribed time limit. This time limit typically depends on where you are in your sauna journey. The standard rule is limiting sauna use to no more than 20 minutes.

When you use a sauna, the body undergoes several changes. The temperature inside a traditional sauna can vary between 150175°F. Such levels of heat and humidity, while beneficial, cause the following changes:

  • Redirect blood flow from internal organs to the skin, prompting sweating responses
  • The body loses up to a pint of sweat as skin temperature reaches up to 104°F
  • Blood pressure falls or rises
  • Pulse rate increases by 30%

These physiological effects are ultimately responsible for bringing about positive, long-term health changes. However, when overheated, the body can experience adverse effects. 

Excessive sweating due to sauna overuse can cause a profuse loss of electrolytes. This can leave you dehydrated, resulting in dizziness and nausea. Those with uncontrolled blood pressure or heart problems can experience more severe symptoms if they stay in a sauna for longer than recommended.

If you’re confused about timing it right, use these simple parameters to cap your sauna use:

If You’re a Beginner

First-time sauna users shouldn’t spend more than 5-10 minutes in the sauna at a time. If they want to extend the session, they can do so after a short interval. This is because first-timers’ bodies aren’t accustomed to the high temperatures of a sauna. Heat stress can shock the system, causing discomfort if it surpasses the 10-minute limit.

Post Workout Sauna

Strenuous workouts can cause muscle soreness and fatigue. Saunas are a great way to decompress after a workout because they help you unwind. Post-workout sauna also helps your muscles recover faster and relieves soreness. 

But how long should you stay in a sauna after a workout session to get the benefits? Not more than 15-20 minutes. Remember, your body is already warmed up and stressed from your workout session. More heat exposure for longer than necessary can have adverse effects. Pay attention to your body if it shows signs of:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

If you experience the above symptoms during your 20-minute session, it is best to exit the sauna and hydrate yourself pronto.

Also, avoid entering a sauna immediately after your workout. Wait at least 10 minutes before beginning your sauna session. 

Maximum Limit

Sauna use should be limited to no more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid dehydration. If you're well-hydrated, fit, and a regular sauna user, 30 minutes is a good upper limit. Anything more than that invites risk. If you want to extend your sauna use, you can always return after a brief interval. Between sauna sessions, it is advisable to:

  • Hydrate, i.e. drink plenty of fluids (water, juices, beverages)
  • Take a cold shower 
  • Take a cold plunge, i.e. submerge your body in cold water
  • Cool down and avoid strenuous activities

Remember to stay hydrated before, during, and after sauna sessions. If you have a lifestyle disease, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, avoid using saunas until you have received authorization from your doctor.

The benefits of a sauna can only be observed after consistent, long-term use. Experts suggest using a sauna at least twice or thrice a week for at least 3 months to observe benefits.  

Is There a “Best Time of Day” for Sauna Use?

The “best time” to sauna depends on your physiological clock and schedule. If you’re an early riser, using a sauna in the morning can promote wakefulness. A traditional sauna works best for morning sauna users. 

Traditional saunas use high ambient heat, which heats the air in the sauna, thus indirectly heating your body. Exposure to high ambient heat is linked to wakefulness and can make you feel energetic throughout the day. Early morning sauna use also helps improve cognitive acuity, so you remain well-focused.

Sauna use before bedtime is a fantastic option as it helps you unwind and promotes more restorative sleep. Saunas operate on the principle of thermoregulation. The heat in a sauna raises your core body temperature at first. Post-sauna, the body’s temperature drops, prompting sleepiness. In a way, saunas activate the circadian rhythm to induce sleep. 

Aside from early morning and bedtime, several people enjoy sauna bathing after a workout. You can also indulge in a few safe exercises like stretching during your sauna session to improve blood flow. 

Health Benefits of a Correctly Timed Sauna

Spending the right amount of time in a sauna can result in several health benefits. 


The heat in a sauna triggers sweating, further prompting the release of toxins and heavy metals like:

  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Cadmium

This detox process helps cleanse out unwanted minerals from your body, allowing it to function optimally. 

Muscle Recovery 

Heat therapy helps reduce muscle stress and soreness, especially after workouts and mild injuries. The heat in a sauna causes your heart to beat faster and pump more blood. 

As a result, it increases blood circulation to parts of the body that need it for repair and restoration. This includes your muscles and joints. With this fresh blood, muscles absorb critical nutrients, and toxins are eliminated. Heat therapy also causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow and expediting the muscle repair process.

Mental Well-Being

Warm temperatures in a sauna have a calming effect on the body. They stimulate the release of “happy hormones” aka endorphins in the bloodstream. This helps elevate mood. Heat therapy is also known to reduce the levels of cortisol hormone in the blood, lowering overall stress and anxiety. 

It promotes deeper sleep, as well as improved cognitive function and mental well-being. 

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Research shows that sauna therapy can significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The study monitored the health of over 2300 sauna users for 20 years. More frequent sauna use was linked to a lower incidence of cardiac-related deaths. 

Consistent sauna use is the key. It is recommended to use the sauna 4-7 times a week for 20 minutes for optimal heart health. 

Enhanced Skin Health

Consistent sauna use can help your skin look fresh and young. Short 15-minute sessions at least twice a week are the key to radiant and glowing skin. The heat in a sauna is known to boost collagen production, helping your skin look fuller and more elastic. 

Saunas have also been linked to cell regeneration and toxin removal, resulting in smooth and supple skin. Frequent sauna use can also help you treat conditions like acne. 

Improved Immune System

Besides treating a host of conditions like muscle pain, saunas are an excellent form of prevention. It only takes 15 minutes of regular sauna bathing to receive a significant boost to the immune system. 

Sauna bathing helps boost the production of white blood cells and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which help fight infections. The result? A robust immune system with lowered chances of getting sick.


What are the Risks of Sauna Overuse?

You can get the most out of your sauna sessions by adopting safe time limits inside a sauna. Exceeding these prescribed timings can have adverse effects on your body. Even if you were sufficiently hydrated before your sauna session, excessive sauna use will dehydrate you. It can make you feel dizzy, queasy, and give you headaches. Excessive heat exposure in a sauna is also linked to a reduced sperm count in men for up to a few months following use.

What is the Ideal Sauna Temperature?

The ideal temperature of a sauna depends on whether you’re a seasoned sauna user or a novice. The standard sauna temperature ranges between 150175°F for traditional saunas. For infrared saunas, it can range between 120130°F. Even so, the “ideal” sauna temperature will ultimately depend on your personal preference, i.e. what you consider to be “hot enough.”

Is it Alright to Sauna Every Day?

Research shows that everyday sauna use is safe and even beneficial to health. When practiced 4-7 times a week, saunas can help improve heart health. That said, ensure you stay sufficiently hydrated before and after your sauna sessions.

Key Takeaways: How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna to Get the Benefits

Saunas provide numerous health benefits, ranging from detox and muscular recovery to mental well-being and better sleep. The key is knowing how long to stay in a sauna for the most benefits. It’s critical to stick to safe duration limits within the sauna, typically 15-20 minutes. The maximum time limit for sauna use is 30 minutes for regular users.

Throughout sauna sessions, remember to prioritize safety and listen to your body.

For long-term health benefits, consistent sauna sessions are vital. Experts advocate using a sauna twice or thrice a week for at least three months for lasting effects. One of the best ways to achieve this consistency is by having a home sauna. Forever Saunas is a reputable sauna brand featuring a collection of traditional, outdoor, and other saunas. Browse through our website to choose the one that suits you best.

Feel free to contact us for more details, and we’ll be happy to assist you. 

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