“How long should you sit in a sauna” is a question I get asked a lot. Determining how long should YOU sit in a sauna isn’t a simple task due to something called “heat acclimation” that makes it more of a personal question.
How long you should sit in a sauna may be very different than how long I should stay in the sauna because I’ve been using sauna therapy for months now.
You see, your body and even you brain adapt to heat stress as it becomes a normal part of your life. Those that deal with extreme sauna-like heat regularly can sit in a sauna much longer before becoming uncomfortable compared to most people.
How long should I stay in the sauna?
The answer here is all about working your way up. If you're not heat acclimated then you must start slowly.
Staying in the sauna too long your first time is exhausting and can be dangerous if you pass out. You should sit in a sauna until you feel mildly uncomfortable for your first go. About 10 to 15 minutes in a sauna over 150 degrees fahrenheit will get you there.
From your first sauna session onward you should sit in for only 1 to 2 minutes more with each visit. This way you can progressively build until you can sit in the sauna for 30 minutes and reap all the awesome benefits of that kind of heat exposure (like a 2 fold increase in muscle building IGF-1!).
Getting there won’t be easy, and it will take a good 5 visits to the sauna for that 30 minute max until you feel you’ve mastered that level.
The more you stick to your sauna regime the longer you will be able to handle sitting in the sauna for those 30 minute periods.
When considering sauna usage you should also take into account when you’ll be sitting in the sauna. Before your workout? After your workout?
Obviously, before your workout you’ll be able to sit in the sauna longer because you will have a lower heart rate to begin with. However, studies on runners showing all the great benefits of sitting in a sauna were looking at sauna use after workouts.
This means that the heat acclimation that comes with feeling uncomfortable in the sauna may be reached quicker after your workout. Since the research was all conducted post workout, we should follow this model if we want to optimize our time sitting in the sauna.