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How Long Should I Stay In A Sauna

by Annabel Caldwell
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How Long Should I Stay In A Sauna

How Long Should I Stay In A Sauna

The longer you stay in the sauna, the more you risk dehydration, so a general rule is to cap your time to 15 to 20 minutes. The Finnish, who the word “sauna” comes from, may have an even simpler suggestion since the sauna is meant for relaxing, not ticking off minutes: Leave the sauna once you feel hot enough.

If you’re like most people, then you spend about 90 percent of each year indoors—and that’s probably without ever stepping outside. With all our indoor activities come risks of getting too hot and dehydrated, but it’s easy to avoid if we just know what to do.
One simple thing you can do is take advantage of one of our favorite wintertime pastimes: sitting around in steamy rooms. For some reason, the mere idea of doing this makes us relax and forget how much hotter than air-conditioned houses it gets out there in the bitter cold.
But taking saunas to extremes isn’t good either. Although we don’t exactly know when it was first discovered, experts say humans should only keep their heads above water temperature (about 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) for between three to five minutes. If you go beyond that amount of time, you risk serious health problems such as heatstroke and even death.
So while you might be tempted to try to make up for lost time by staying in longer, it’s best to limit yourself to 15 to 20 minutes maximum. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids during these sessions. That way you won’t get dehydrated. And although you might think you can hold on longer because it feels great, it could actually cause harm down the line.
In Finland, which has been known for its healthy lifestyle habits all along, they’ve created a special word for the perfect length of time to sit in a sauna: “pääkaupunkiseutu” – literally, the “city center.” This means that once you’ve relaxed and gotten into the spirit of things, you need to leave the room within 15 to 20 minutes, otherwise you’ll end up with a hangover!
So why does the body sweat? Sweating is caused when the blood vessels expand due to increased pressure on them, causing fluid to move through the tiny channels. When a person sits still in a warm environment, the blood vessel walls will continue to expand until the pressure builds up to the breaking point. This is called vasodilation, and it causes sweating. But when someone stays inside a sauna for too long, the blood vessels cannot dilate fast enough to release the excess fluid, leading to hyperhidrosis.
Saunas are also used to treat skin conditions, rheumatic diseases, arthritis, circulation disorders, respiratory issues, depression, anxiety, sinusitis and hay fever. They also help relieve stress and promote relaxation.
Now let’s talk about how to use a sauna safely. First, you must always follow the instructions of the staff at your local spa. Some places require guests to wear bathing suits, others prefer towels and robes. You should check before booking any session to find out what kind of dress code is expected.
Once you arrive, you should remove all clothing except underwear and socks. Even though you’re already wet from perspiration, going completely naked is essential to protecting yourself from overheating. Next, you’ll want to add moisture to your body by using a shower prior to entering the sauna. Soaking in lukewarm water helps open pores, making it easier for the steam to work its magic.
When you enter the room, make sure the door shuts tightly behind you. As soon as you close the door, it needs to remain closed for at least two hours. During this time, you shouldn’t eat or smoke cigarettes. Afterward, you can reenter the sauna and enjoy another round.
For those of you wondering, yes, you can use a sauna multiple times per day if you wish. However, it’s recommended that you wait 24 hours after dipping in the pool or lake before heading back in. Also, if you have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney problems, you should consult your doctor before trying to prolong your visit.
You might wonder what happens if you step outside the sauna while it’s running. Well, if you exit the building quickly, you could experience something called “dry roasting,” which occurs when the dry air outside heats up faster than the moist air inside. Once you pass the threshold where the moisture evaporates, dry air burns your skin, increasing the chances of sunburn.
Also, if you decide to cool off outdoors, remember to drink lots of water. Drinking alcohol, coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages increases the rate of evaporation. These drinks can also reduce the effectiveness of cooling systems in your home.
Finally, if you suffer from asthma, emphysema or lung diseases, you should seek medical attention immediately if you develop chest pains or shortness of breath. Heat exhaustion occurs when the core body temperature rises too rapidly and suddenly, causing excessive sweating, dizziness, weakness and nausea. If left untreated, it can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
Now that you understand better how to protect yourself, why not give it a shot next time you book a vacation in the country? You’ll never regret it.

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