Sauna Guide

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna? Experts Tips to Power Up Your Sessions

How long should you stay in a sauna? 

A Good Rule of Thumb: For new sauna users, spending 10-15 minutes per round with cool-downs in between (important) is recommended.

Your first round might be longer, especially if you start with a cold body temperature.  That first sweat can take 10-15 minutes.  

Consider 2-3 rounds with cold plunges in between to maximize health benefits.

Important Factors When Considering How Long To Stay In a Sauna

Nature doesn't hurry and it's always on time.  While enjoying a sauna, always listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard.

It's wise to have a sauna buddy, limit alcohol, drink plenty of water, and exit when your body signals you to do so.

Factors such as age, health conditions, previous sauna experience, and pregnancy should also be considered.

And you can always adjust the temperature if you want to spend more time in sauna bliss.  Learn more about sauna temperature here.  

Heat Stratification

Most modern saunas have a big problem with heat settling at the top and staying cool at the bottom.  More traditional Finnish saunas had huge stoves and leaky floors so air was always moving through the hot room and keeping more level temperature.

There's a good chance your head is at 180 degrees and your feet will still be cool in a modern sauna.  This does not allow you to stay in the sauna long enough to get the benefits to your entire body.

That why sauna hats have become so popular.  It helps your head stay protected from the hottest heat while the rest of the body catches up.

The real solution is better air ventilation, higher benches, or a Saunum air system that's designed to bring air from the top of the sauna to the bottom.  Saunum Air and Saunum Air Solo are now available in the USA and Canada.

Cool Down Between Sessions

An authentic Finnish sauna session has a method to cool down between sessions.  Ideally, in a lake or stream, but cold showers are popular in Finland.  Cold plunges have become a popular way to get the benefits of cold exposure in America.

7 Questions That Impact Your Sauna Duration:

Your ideal sauna session length depends on the answers to these questions:

  1. How healthy are you right now?
  2. Is it your first sauna bath or do you sauna regularly?
  3. Are you trying to get your partner pregnant?
  4. Do you have metabolic disorders or are you overweight/obese?
  5. Are you considering letting your children join you in the sauna?
  6. Are you pregnant right now?
  7. Do you have heart disease or high blood pressure? Sauna can help prevent heart disease but you should talk to a doctor first.

Dry Sauna vs Infrared Sauna Duration

The recommendations in this blog post mainly apply to dry saunas, also known as Finnish or steam saunas. Infrared saunas may require different durations to achieve the desired warming effect, as they are not as hot.

Finnish Sauna Wisdom and Science: Sauna culture in Finland offers valuable insights into how long a beginner should spend in a sauna. Most people can start with a few weekly sauna sessions and gradually increase to daily use. Finnish dry sauna bathing typically involves one to three sessions of 5 to 20 minutes each, interspersed with cooling periods.

Conclusion: Now that you have all the information you need, it's time to enjoy your sauna experience, whether it's an indoor or outdoor sauna, Finnish or infrared, DIY, or portable.

Remember to listen to your body, stay within your limits, and enjoy saunas' numerous health benefits.

Want to bring the full benefits of sauna to your home?  Find the perfect sauna here.

Sauna Duration Studies and Further Reading

The important questions, like how long should you stay in a sauna have been tackled rigorously by Finnish academics. We’d love to be a part of their sauna studies.

  1. Zychowska, M., et al. Association of high cardiovascular fitness and the rate of adaptation to heat stress. Biomed Res Int 2018 Feb 2820181685368.
  2. Garolla, A., et al. Seminal and molecular evidence that sauna exposure affects human spermatogenesis. Hum Reprod 2013 Apr;28(4):877-85.)
  3. Pilch, W., et al. Changes in the lipid profile of blood serum in women taking sauna baths of various duration. Int J Occup Med Environ Mealth 2010;23(2):167-74.
  4. Krause, M., et al. Heat shock proteins and heat therapy for type 2 diabetes: pros and cons. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2015 Jul;18(4):374-80.
  5. Jokinen, E., et al. The sauna and children. Ann Clin Res 1988;20(4):283-6.
  6. Leppaluoto, J. Human thermoregulation in sauna. Ann Clin Res 1988;20(4):240-3.
  7. Rissmann, A., et al. Infant’s physiological response to short heat stress during sauna bath. Klin Padiatr 2002 May-Jun;214(3):132-5.
  8. Sun, Y., et al. Prenatal exposure to elevated maternal body temperature and risk of epilepsy in childhood: a population-based pregnancy cohort study. Paediatr Perinat epidemiol 2011 Jan;25(1):53-9.
  9. Laukkanen, T., et al. Acute effects of sauna bathing on cardiovascular function. J Hum Hypertens 2018 Feb;32(2):129-138.
  10. Lee, E., et al. Sauna exposure leads to improved arterial compliance: finding from a non-randomised experimental study. Eur J Prev Cardiol 2018 Jan;25(2):130-138.
  11. Radtke, T., et al. Acute effects of Finnish sauna and cold-water immersion on haemodynamic variables and autonomic nervous system activity in patients with heart failure. Eur J Prev Cardiol 2016 Apr; 23(6):593-601.