A sauna sand timer next to a thermostat with the words "how long should you stay in a sauna?"

How Long Should You Stay In A Sauna? The Surprising Truth!

Adding a sauna protocol to your health regime is a great decision.

There are many physical – including skin health – and mental health benefits from taking saunas – whether it’s a far infrared sauna or a dry sauna – used correctly, you’ll feel the benefits for sure.

However, there are risks so ensuring you get the timing right is essential.

In this article, we’ll answer the question; “how long should you stay in a sauna?”, as well as how often, and tips on how to make the most of your time when you’re in there.

We’ll look at the numerous health benefits using a sauna provides as well as the different types of saunas.

So let’s crack on and look at the different sauna protocols and figure out the best one for you to get the maximum benefits.


  • Types of Saunas:
    • Infrared Saunas: Use infrared lamps to warm the body directly, allowing for longer sessions due to cooler air.
    • Traditional Dry Saunas: Heat the air with heated rocks, creating a hot environment that induces sweating and quickens the increase in body temperature.
  • Sauna Session Timings:
    • Beginners: Start with 5-10 minutes, gradually increasing to 15-20 minutes.
    • General Health: 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
    • Post-Workout: 15-20 minutes, particularly beneficial in infrared saunas.
    • Cardiovascular Health: 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
    • Mental Well-being: 15-20 minutes to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Frequency of Sauna Use:
    • Moderate use (3-4 times per week) is recommended for significant health benefits without the risks of overexposure.
  • Health Benefits:
    • Includes improved cardiovascular health, detoxification, muscle recovery, stress reduction, better sleep, boosted immune system, skin cleansing, respiratory benefits, joint and rheumatic pain relief, and enhanced mental health.
  • Wet Saunas:
    • Characterized by increased humidity from pouring water over heated rocks, offering a different sauna experience compared to dry saunas and steam rooms.

The Main Types Of Saunas

Before we dive into the timings, let’s look at the two main types of saunas that work differently, operate at different heats, and have different reactions to our bodies, so will impact the timings.

The decision as to which you use may be down to personal preference or simply what’s available to you.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they use far infrared lamps to warm your body directly.

Infrared saunas, thanks to their unique heating method, often heat up quicker and function within a lower temperatures, usually between 120°F and 140°F.

This type of heat exposure can penetrate deeper into the skin, potentially offering many health benefits such as improved blood flow and muscle recovery.

Because the air stays cooler, infrared sauna sessions might be more comfortable for longer durations compared to traditional saunas.

This could mean that frequent sauna bathing in an infrared sauna allows for longer sauna exposure without overwhelming heat stress, making it a preferred option for those focusing on muscle soreness and blood flow.

Traditional Dry Saunas

On the other hand, traditional dry saunas use heated sauna rocks to increase the room’s temperature – they operate at 150°F to 195°F.

This dry heat creates a high-temperature environment that induces sweating and increases your body temperature quickly.

The heat shock proteins released during a single sauna session in a traditional sauna are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and an improvement in heart health.

However, due to the intense heat, the duration of a sauna session may be shorter to avoid the risk of dehydration or heat stroke. It’s always recommended to drink plenty of water and listen to your body’s signals.

Both sauna types offer optimal benefits for physical and mental health, including lower blood pressure, inflammation and muscle soreness reduction, and mental health benefits.

How Long Should You Stay In A Sauna

As with many things in life, there’s not a clear answer to this. The studies on sauna bathing are limited so the suggested times are for guidance only. It’s important to listen to your own body.

For Beginners: Getting Acquainted with Sauna Use

Objective: Acclimate to the heat and understand personal tolerance levels.

Suggested Time: Start with 5-10 minutes in a traditional sauna or infrared sauna. Gradually increase the duration over several sessions to a comfortable 15-20 minutes.

For General Health Optimization

Objective: Enhance overall wellness, including mental health benefits and immune system support.

Suggested Time: 15-20 minutes per session in either infrared saunas or traditional dry saunas, 3-4 times a week.

For Post-Workout Recovery

Objective: Aid in muscle recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and support muscle growth.

Suggested Time: 15-20 minutes in an infrared sauna can be particularly beneficial after cooling down from a workout, helping to improve blood flow and alleviate inflammation and muscle soreness.

To Improve Cardiovascular Health

Objective: Lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and stimulate blood flow.

Suggested Time: 20-30 minutes in a traditional sauna or infrared sauna, 3-4 times a week, can offer cardiovascular health benefits. Consulting with a healthcare provider is advised to tailor these sessions safely.

For Enhancing Mental Well-being

Objective: Reduce stress, promote relaxation, and support overall mental health.

Suggested Time: 15-20 minutes of sauna use can help, offering a tranquil escape that fosters mental relaxation.

How Often Can You Sauna?

The frequency of sauna use can vary widely depending on individual health goals, personal preference, cultural practices, and any existing health conditions.

While sauna bathing offers numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, relaxation, detoxification, and enhanced muscle recovery, it’s essential to approach sauna use with a balance to avoid potential risks associated with overuse.

General Recommendations

Moderate Use: Many health professionals and studies suggest that moderate sauna use — around 3-4 times per week — can offer significant health benefits without overexposing the body to high heat.

Sessions typically last between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of sauna (infrared sauna or traditional dry sauna) and the individual’s heat tolerance.

Health Benefits of Regular Use

Cardiovascular Health: Frequent sauna sessions are associated with a reduced risk of heart diseases, lower blood pressure, and enhanced cardiac performance. The heat stress induced by sauna use can enhance blood circulation and promote healthy blood flow.

Muscle Recovery: For athletes or those engaged in regular physical activity, frequent sauna use can help in muscle soreness and recovery, aiding in relaxation and reducing inflammation.

Stress Relief: The calming effect of sauna sessions can significantly reduce stress levels, promoting better mental health and well-being.

Upper Limits

Upper Limit: While specific upper limits for sauna use haven’t been strictly defined, exceeding more than one session per day or sessions longer than 20-30 minutes at high temperatures could increase the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and exit the sauna if you start feeling dizzy, uncomfortable, or overly fatigued.

Health Conditions: Individuals with certain health conditions, especially cardiovascular issues, pregnant women, or those with high or low blood pressure, should consult with a healthcare provider before engaging in regular sauna use.

Making the Most Out Of Your Sauna Sessions

Maximizing your sauna experience not only involves how long you stay in the sauna but also what you do during your session and how frequently you indulge in this wellness activity.

Here’s how you can enhance each sauna session and guidance on optimal frequency for health benefits.

Meditation: The sauna’s warm and secluded environment provides an excellent opportunity for meditation. This practice can help deepen your relaxation, reduce stress, and improve your mental clarity.

Focusing on your breath or engaging in mindfulness meditation during a sauna session can significantly enhance the mental health benefits of sauna use.

Gentle Stretching: Performing gentle stretches in the sauna can be beneficial, especially after a workout. The heat helps to loosen the muscles, making it easier to stretch and thus reducing muscle soreness. This can also aid in muscle recovery and flexibility.

However, it’s essential to be cautious and avoid vigorous exercise, as the heat can amplify the risk of dehydration or dizziness.

Personalizing Your Sauna Experience

Finding your sauna sweet spot is all about tuning into your body’s responses and recognizing what feels best for you. Sauna use is not a one-size-fits-all wellness practice.

The ideal duration and frequency can vary greatly among individuals, depending on factors like personal health, lifestyle, and even the day’s stress levels.

Finding Your Ideal Duration

Start Small: If you’re new to sauna use, begin with shorter sessions (5-10 minutes) and gradually increase your time based on comfort. This approach helps acclimate your body to the heat without overwhelming it.

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel during and after your sauna sessions. If you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, you might extend your time. However, if you experience discomfort or dizziness, it’s a sign to cut back.

Adjust as You Go: Your ideal sauna time might change as you become more accustomed to the heat or as your health and wellness goals evolve. Flexibility is key.

Finding Your Ideal Frequency

Experiment: Try using the sauna at different frequencies, starting from once a week to several times a week, and note how you feel. Some might find daily sessions beneficial, while others prefer a few times a week.

Balance with Lifestyle: Consider how sauna sessions fit into your overall wellness routine, including exercise, work, and family time. Sauna use should feel like a beneficial addition, not a stressful obligation.

Health Goals: Let your health and wellness goals guide your frequency. For relaxation and stress relief, fewer sessions might suffice. For fitness recovery or cardiovascular health, more frequent sessions could be more beneficial.

Important Considerations

Hydration: Drinking plenty of water before and after sauna use is crucial to prevent dehydration.

Listen to Your Body: One of the most important pieces of advice across all types of sauna use is to listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, uncomfortable, or overly tired, it’s time to leave the sauna.

Cool Down: Allowing the body to cool down gradually after a sauna session, including taking a cold shower or sitting in a cooler environment, is recommended to normalize body temperature.

The Health Benefits Of Sauna Bathing

Saunas are more than just a place to unwind and relax; they’re a gateway to numerous health benefits that touch on every aspect of your well-being. From enhancing physical health to promoting mental tranquility, the warmth of a sauna session goes a long way.

Let’s explore the myriad of sauna health benefits that regular sauna use can bring into your life.

I go deeper into the health benefits of infrared saunas here.

Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular sauna sessions can mimic the effects of mild exercise, increasing heart rate and improving circulation by dilating the blood vessels. This can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, making your heart not just healthier but stronger.

Detoxification: Through increased sweating, saunas can help flush toxins from the body. This natural detoxification process supports kidney function and helps cleanse the skin, promoting a healthy glow.

Muscle Recovery: The heat from the sauna helps relax muscles and alleviate tension, speeding up recovery from workouts. This is particularly beneficial for those looking to enhance their physical performance and reduce muscle soreness.

Stress Reduction: Sauna use promotes relaxation and can significantly reduce stress levels. The heat encourages the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, creating a state of calmness and relaxation.

Improved Sleep: Regular sauna users often report better sleep quality. The post-sauna cooling process can help prepare your body for a restful night, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Immune System Boost: Regular sauna sessions can stimulate the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in fighting off illnesses. This can lead to a stronger immune system, helping you stay healthy and resilient.

Skin Cleansing: The sweating process in a sauna can help open pores and remove dead skin cells, improving skin elasticity and tone. Regular sessions can leave your skin looking fresher and feeling smoother.

Respiratory Benefits: For those suffering from conditions like asthma or chronic bronchitis, sauna use can help clear congestion, improve breathing, and reduce the frequency of respiratory illnesses.

Joint and Rheumatic Pain Relief: The warmth of the sauna can provide relief for those with arthritis or rheumatic pain. It helps increase circulation, reduce stiffness, and ease inflammation in the joints.

Mental Health and Well-being: Beyond physical health, saunas can have a profound effect on your mental health. The peaceful environment allows for meditation and mindfulness practices, enhancing mental clarity and promoting overall well-being.

What Are Wet Saunas?

A wet sauna, often contrasted with a dry sauna, involves the introduction of moisture into the air, typically through pouring water over heated rocks.

This process generates steam, increasing the humidity level within the sauna room. While dry saunas rely solely on hot air and have low humidity, wet saunas offer a more humid environment, which can feel warmer at the same temperatures due to the steam.

Key Features of Wet Saunas:

  • Increased Humidity: The defining characteristic of a wet sauna is its high humidity level, which is achieved by adding water to the sauna’s heat source. This can make the air feel hotter than it actually is.
  • Temperature: Wet saunas operate at a range of temperatures, often between 150°F to 195°F (65°C to 90°C), similar to traditional dry saunas. However, the steam can make the heat feel more intense.
  • Health Benefits: Like other types of saunas, wet saunas offer several health benefits, including relaxation, improved blood flow, reduced muscle soreness, and detoxification. The steam can also be beneficial for respiratory issues, helping to clear congestion and improve breathing.
  • Sauna Sessions: Due to the high humidity and perceived increase in heat, sauna sessions in a wet sauna might be shorter than in a dry sauna. Users often stay in a wet sauna for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on personal comfort and tolerance levels.

Wet Sauna vs. Steam Rooms

It’s important to differentiate between a wet sauna and a steam room. Though both are characterized by high humidity, a steam room operates at a much lower temperature, typically around 110°F to 120°F (43°C to 49°C), and generates steam differently, often using a steam generator.

In contrast, a wet sauna uses a traditional sauna heater with rocks, where water is added to create steam.

Conclusion: How Long Should You Stay In A Sauna?

Well, I hope I’ve given you the answers you need and more.

You should now know the main types of saunas which are infrared and dry saunas and the particular benefits of each.

You’ll know how long you should stay in a sauna depending on whether you’re a beginner or a seasonal sauna goer and what your main goal is. And, importantly, the risks involved and the importance of listening to your body.

We dig into the health benefits of taking saunas – I’ve written more about the health benefits of infrared sauna bathing if you want to find out more.

Ultimately, just give it a go and see how you feel. Listen to your body, it will give you hints if things are off.

And, that’s it… have a healthy day!


Is 30 minutes in the sauna too much?

Thirty minutes can be suitable for experienced sauna users, but it’s vital to stay hydrated and listen to your body. Beginners should start with shorter sessions.

Does sauna burn fat?

While saunas can promote relaxation and muscle recovery, there’s limited evidence that they directly burn fat. The weight loss primarily comes from water loss, not fat reduction.

Is 20 minutes of sauna enough?

Yes, 20 minutes is a generally recommended duration for sauna sessions, providing significant health benefits without overstressing the body, especially for those acclimated to the heat.

Is it OK to sauna everyday?

Sauna use every day can be beneficial for some, particularly with shorter sessions. However, individual tolerance and health conditions should guide frequency; hydration and listening to your body are key.

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