Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How long should you stay in the sauna? The experts tell us

Saunas can be tremendously helpful for a number of reasons, but how should you use them? Our experts have tips

Saunas have been used for thousands of years, and for good reasons. With their numerous health benefits, ranging from helping detoxify the body to helping reduce all-cause mortality, it’s no wonder saunas are a worldwide, popular leisure activity. However, as with all things in life, you can have too much of a good thing. So when it comes to saunas, the question then you need to ask is: How do you use a sauna?

People using a sauna.

When you’re first looking into sauna benefits, you might search for a lot of things, such as how to use a sauna, what are some sauna benefits, and all sorts of other questions. We enlisted the help of experts to answer some of the most commonly asked questions to get their take on the matter. 

Related Videos

Benefits of using a sauna

Having been used for thousands of years, saunas can be extremely beneficial to overall health. Here’s a quick list of some benefits to using them consistently. Saunas can:

Dr. Mahmud Kara, the creator of KaraMD with more than 30 years of experience treating patients at the Cleveland Clinic, noted that “one of the greatest benefits of saunas is relaxation or stress reduction.”


“We weren’t built for the 21st century, and our ‘always on’ lifestyle can lead to chronic stress, which over time can be detrimental to our health. Therefore, stress reduction is essential to live and feel well, physically and mentally, and saunas can be a useful tool for relaxation and stress reduction. Studies have also found that saunas can help reduce joint and muscle tension and alleviate aches and pains.”

Medically speaking, sauna benefits are even more interesting.

“Saunas help relax the blood vessels and dilate them, which is important for increasing blood flow and can help with recovery after exercise as well as cardiovascular health,” Dr. Kara says. “Research also suggests that saunas may be effective for toxin removal as one of the ways the liver and kidneys excrete toxins is through sweat.”

Now that we know some of the potential benefits, let’s get the experts’ takes on saunas.

Treehotel Sauna, travel, Sweden, grooming,

How long should you stay in a sauna?

“It depends on the type,” said Dr. Tom Ingegno, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, who owns and operates Charm City Integrative Health in Baltimore, Maryland. His clinic has been offering infrared sauna therapy since 2016. “Finnish (traditional) saunas run at a higher heat, usually 160–195 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, most studies suggest that 10–20 minutes is enough. Infrared saunas usually have a maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and people can stay in them for 20–60 minutes. Regardless of the sauna type, you want to sweat but stay safe. Your tolerance and comfort can vary from session to session.”

Benjamin Okyere, a data engineer, fitness trainer, and founder of Stress Reliever’s Club, added that how long you can stay in a sauna also depends on the person. “It depends on factors such as your fitness level, how hot the sauna is, and why you are using the sauna,” he explained. If you are new to saunas, it is best to start with shorter periods and gradually increase the length of time you spend in the sauna. Generally, it’s best to stay for no more than 15 minutes at a time. With frequent breaks, you can safely enjoy the benefits of a sauna for up to 45 minutes.”

Can you use a sauna daily?

You can, but you probably don’t need to.

“Yes, you can use a sauna daily, but you should be careful not to overdo it. Your body needs time to recover and regulate its temperature in between sessions,” Okyere said.

“The most impressive benefit that seems to occur with regular sauna use [is] a decrease in all-cause mortality,” added Dr. Ingegno. “This means your likelihood of dying from cardiovascular issues like heart attacks and other diseases falls. With sauna use around five times per week and totaling a little over 30 minutes (in the hotter Finnish saunas, longer for IR saunas), you can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks by over 40%. That’s pretty impressive. You can use the sauna daily, but the benefits seem to max out at [five times] per week.”

As far as timing goes, Dr. Kara said, “The American College of Sports Medicine and American Sauna Society recommends 5–10 minutes for beginners and 15–20 minutes at maximum for other users. Furthermore, most facilities will limit sauna sessions to three to four times per week.”

Barrel sauna inside.

Expert tips for sauna usage

Dr. Ingegno, Okyere and Dr. Kara offered several tips for making the most of your sauna time:

  • Stay hydrated, bring a large container of water in the sauna, and try to replace what [you are] sweating out.
  • If your head tends to get too hot, try a traditional wool hat. Sauna hats are a thing. They insulate the head and keep the heat out. It can make your experience more comfortable.
  • Ceramic aroma therapy statues can add to the experience. You can put a few drops of essential oil on them and place them in the sauna. Things like peppermint and eucalyptus can really open up the airways when combined with the heat.
  • Take breaks in between sauna sessions to give your body time to recover.
  • Make sure to dress appropriately in loose-fitting clothing.
  • Focus on your breathing and savor the experience of being in the sauna — mentally focus on why you are there and what benefits you hope to gain from it.
  • Avoid engaging in any physical activities while in the sauna. This will help you relax and take advantage of all its healing benefits.
  • Like with any change in diet or exercise, speak to a medical professional before beginning a sauna routine because everyone’s body is different.

Are there any risks?

“One of the bigger risks of using a sauna is dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after using saunas. Saunas may also trigger or worsen symptoms of certain conditions like asthma or other breathing conditions because of the dry heat,” Dr. Kara said.

Sweat it out

Finnish sauna.
Feste Landskap / Arkitektur

With the sauna’s numerous health benefits and ease of use, there is almost no reason why anyone would want to skip a sauna session. Close your eyes and visualize a tropical beach, and it’s almost as if you’re truly there.

Editors' Recommendations

Want to build muscle? A doctor says you should eat these foods
If you're looking to bulk up those biceps, these are the foods you should be eating
Fish fillets, chicken meat, and red meat on top of distressed white cutting boards along with nuts, cheese, dairy, and eggs.

The world of nutrition and muscle growth can be a terribly confusing one. Between the madness of the latest trends in health, fad diets, the newest "must have" workout gear, and toxic weight-loss culture, it's easy to want to throw in the towel and reach for a box of Twinkies. But tucked in, hidden in all of this confusion, there are some things about fitness and muscle growth that are just always true. The biggest truth of them all is that abs really are made in the kitchen. You can work yourself into a frenzy with a fancy gym membership, but without proper nutrition, your body is just running on toxic fumes.

Muscle building requires a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Dr. Noel Abood, owner and director of Solon Spine & Wellness Center in Ohio, shared with us his expert advice on the top foods one should be eating for ultimate muscle growth. So if you've been frustrated with the results of your workout routine, or are looking to bulge those biceps a bit more, here are some of the foods you'll want to add these items to your grocery list.

Read more
Study: 5 sleep habits that can add years to your life
This study tells you all of the ways you need to get your sleep schedule in check right now
A man getting ready for bed but still on his phone.

The older we get, the angrier we get that we didn't take advantage of those naps as a child. And the more years we see, the more we appreciate how a great night's sleep transforms us from a grumpy Squidward into an upbeat SpongeBob. Though we have more reasons to get less sleep with all of the adult responsibilities, we need not only the proper amount of sleep, but more restful sleep. Good thing there was a study on all of that, and we'll share the highlights.

The top 5 healthy sleep factors
The study was conducted by the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session with the World Congress of Cardiology and centers around people who are 30 years old.

Read more
The best Peloton instructors to match your workout vibe
If you're new to Peloton, here's our guide to help you choose the best trainer to suit your needs and style
Peloton bike at home.

Peloton has become one of the most famous brands in the world of fitness since it was founded back in January 2012. The first Peloton bike was sold in February 2012, and since then, Peloton has become a multi-million dollar business. The main reason for this success is that it offers gym-style workouts without the need for customers to leave the comfort of their own homes.

It's not just the Peloton bikes that have become famous; even the Peloton instructors have become celebrities because of the large international customer base that Peloton has attracted.

Read more