Have you ever gotten out of the sauna and felt more energized, focused, and present throughout the day? Conversely, have you ever left a sauna session feeling sleepy and relaxed?
Sauna bathing can affect everyone a little bit differently, but it also seems that the time of day you use the sauna can greatly impact how you feel. So, is there a “best” time of day to use the sauna?
In this article, we’ll take a look at how using the sauna at different times of the day can impact how you feel afterward. We’ll talk about how to time your sauna session in relation to your workout and how often you should be sauna bathing in the first place.
Medical disclaimer: If you have certain health conditions like high or low blood pressure1, heart disease, have been drinking, using stimulants or nicotine patches, or are taking medication that decreases your ability to sweat, you should stay out of the sauna. Additionally, those who are pregnant2 should avoid sauna use. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about whether a sauna is safe for you.
When’s the Best Time of Day to Use the Sauna?
There doesn’t seem to be a “best” time of day, exactly, to use the sauna; however, using it at certain times of the day will have a different effect. Most experts recommend3 either a morning, evening, or post-workout sauna session.
Related: How to Use a Sauna
In 2015, a small study in Japan4 looked at the effects of taking a hot bath or sauna in the morning to see how it affected their work. They discovered that the participants who engaged in morning saunas had an improvement in work efficiency compared to those who engaged in other bathing methods.4
This may be because saunas have been shown to reduce stress levels5, so starting your day out in the sauna may be similar to starting out with another relaxing or mindfulness practice like meditation. Saunas also detox the body, which may leave you feeling cleaner and clearer-headed throughout the day.1
One other benefit of using the sauna in the morning is that you should feel more free to sweat it out. You’ll have the rest of the day to rehydrate without it affecting your sleep.
While a morning sauna can leave you feeling more mentally clear and productive throughout the day, an evening sauna could help you relax, wind down, and sleep better through the night6.
This is because when you get into a sauna (or another form of heat therapy, like a hot bath7), your body temperature initially rises. However, after you get out, your body temperature slowly drops, and then about two hours after you’ve left the sauna, you should start to get sleepy.6
This is because this nighttime drop in body temperature8 signals your body to start producing more of the hormone melatonin, which is important for facilitating sleep. Plus, saunas can also create a state of relaxation in the body and mind, which is always conducive to better sleep. Learn more about using a sauna before bed.
You may also want to limit your time in the sauna at night so that you’re not fully breaking a sweat. This way you’ll still get the benefits of the drop in body temperature and relaxation, but you won’t have to worry about feeling dehydrated or drinking a bunch of water so close to bedtime.
Best Time to Use the Sauna at the Gym
Most experts advocate using the sauna after your workout rather than before it.5 Studies show that using the sauna after your workout can improve blood pressure10, promote muscle recovery11, and give you some space to decompress and relax after your workout.
The thing you have to keep in mind about doing the sauna so close to a workout is hydration. If you’ve already worked up a sweat, and then you go sit in the sauna, you are at greater risk of dehydration12. This is why it is so important for athletes to stay hydrated – with water and electrolytes – before, during, and after both their workouts and the sauna.12
Heart complications are also more likely for those with preexisting conditions who jump straight from a workout into the sauna.12 If you’ve already put your heart under stress with an intense workout, be careful about sitting in the sauna afterward. If you have any heart conditions, talk to your doctor. They’ll advise you to skip the sauna entirely.
Is It Safe to Use a Sauna Multiple Times a Day?
It is generally considered safe for healthy people with no preexisting conditions to use the sauna up to twice a day, though the risk for dehydration then becomes greater.3
As you’re sitting in the sauna, you are sweating out toxins.1 However, you’re also sweating out vital minerals called electrolytes13. An imbalance in your electrolyte levels can cause headaches, nausea, blood pressure changes, muscle cramps, fatigue, and generally not feeling well, and electrolytes play a vital role in the nervous system.13
So, if you choose to sit in the sauna twice, or even once a day, you should be sure you’re replacing the fluids lost with both water and electrolytes.
Best Time to Use a Sauna FAQs
Is it better to use a sauna in the morning or at night?
If you are going for an increase in mental acuity throughout the day, you should sauna in the morning.4 If you struggle with sleep, you should try using the sauna two hours before bed.6 In the morning, you can sweat more as you’ll have the whole day to rehydrate; in the evening, you might want to make it a shorter session, so that you won’t be dehydrated or forced to drink a lot of water close to bedtime.
How often should you use a sauna for the best results?
For overall health benefits, experts recommend going to the sauna two or three times14 a week. If you’re specifically looking for cardiovascular benefits, experts recommend using the sauna between two and seven times a week, with shorter sessions.8
How long do you have to stay in the sauna for detox?
You should never stay in the sauna for longer than 15 or 20 minutes15. This should be plenty of time for you to break a sweat, which is one way that toxic elements are removed from your system.1
Do you have to shower before and after the sauna?
If you have just worked out, it is usually good sauna etiquette to quickly rinse off before entering the sauna. If you haven’t just worked out, there is no need to shower before getting into the sauna. However, you will certainly want to shower afterward, as saunas can work up quite a sweat.
Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.
- “Are Saunas Good for You?”. Poison Control. Webpage accessed October 11, 2023. https://www.poison.org/articles/are-saunas-good-for-you.
- “Is it safe to use a sauna or jacuzzi if I’m pregnant?”. National Health Service. Last modified December 22, 2022. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/is-it-safe-to-use-a-sauna-or-jacuzzi-if-i-am-pregnant/.
- “What Time Of Day Is Best To Use Your Sauna?”. Saunas.org. https://saunas.org/sauna-time-results-benefits/. 2022.
- Lee, Soomin., Fujimura, Hiroko., et al. “Verification of impact of morning showering and mist sauna bathing on human physiological functions and work efficiency during the day”. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25388947/. 2015.
- “Benefits of sauna bathing for heart health”. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/benefits-sauna-bathing-heart-health. 2023.
- Vihavainen, Raili. “Sauna and sleep”. The Finnish Sauna Society. Webpage accessed October 11, 2023. https://sauna.fi/en/sauna-knowledge/sauna-and-sleep/.
- Neilson, Susie. “A Warm Bedtime Bath Can Help You Cool Down And Sleep Better”. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/search/research-news/3495/. 2019.
- DeBara, Deanna. “Sauna & Sleep: A Winning Combo?”. OURA Ring. https://ouraring.com/blog/sauna-sleep-a-winning-combo/. 2023.
- Lee, Earric., Kolunsarka, Iiris., et al. “Effects of regular sauna bathing in conjunction with exercise on cardiovascular function: a multi-arm, randomized controlled trial”. American Journal of Physiology. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00076.2022. 2022.
- Patrick, Rhonda P., Johnson, Teresa L. “Sauna use as a lifestyle practice to extend healthspan”. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556521002916. 2021.
- “The Benefits (and Drawbacks) Of Hitting the Sauna After Working Out, According to Pros”. Physical Therapy Central. https://ptcentral.org/blog/the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-hitting-the-sauna-after-working-out-according-to-pros/. 2022.
- Beswick, Kyle. “What are Electrolytes?”. Cedars-Sinai. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/electrolytes.html. 2019.
- “HOW THE SAUNA AND STEAM ROOM CAN HELP YOUR HEALTH”. YMCA. Webpage accessed October 11, 2023. https://www.ymcamidtn.org/health-and-fitness/articles/how-sauna-and-steam-room-can-help-your-health.
- “Sauna Health Benefits: Are saunas healthy or harmful?”. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/saunas-and-your-health. 2020.