Whether you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a home sauna or are planning on trying out the sauna at your local gym or spa, trying sauna therapy is not something you should jump into for the first time without a lot of thought, intention and research. After all, doing anything your body isn’t normally accustomed to withstanding is something you should approach carefully.

Regular sauna users know that nothing beats a trip to the sauna after a long and grueling training session or a stressful week at work. The benefits of regular sauna therapy include detoxification, mental clarity, stress relief, muscle recovery and immune support, to name just a few. 

However, there are many things to be considered before putting your body under such intense heat. It’s important to read up on sauna safety tips and recommendations before trying one out. Here are a few extremely important tips to keep in mind to ensure your first or next sauna session is safe, refreshing and leaves you feeling better than you walked in:

Timing Is Everything

While a long session in the sauna may sound like the most comforting thing in the world immediately after a stressful day or tough workout, sauna therapy is not something you can treat like a relaxing nap. Since the intensity of the heat can have more of an impact on your body than you even realize, it’s extremely important to limit the amount of time you spend in the sauna and ensure you’re going in at the right moment. 

Most experts recommend people spend no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time in the sauna, though you may be able to push slightly longer with doctor’s approval or if you’re very experienced with sauna therapy and know how to care for yourself before and after. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t stay in for 15 minutes if it’s your first time. It’s best to let your body get accustomed to that type of therapy little by little, so consider starting out with 5 minutes tops and working your way up from their. 

In addition to the length of time you spend in the sauna itself, you should also know your limits when it comes to the activities you do before and after your sauna session. For instance, you must wait at least 5 minutes after exercising to enter a sauna. You should also never enter a sauna if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol or have recently smoked or taken a daily pill (that includes antihistamines).

Water, Water and More Water

If you’re lucky enough to have a home sauna, you may be tempted to hop in first thing in the morning to help get your mind and body relaxed before you start your day. However, entering a sauna without drinking at least two or three glasses of water is extremely dangerous and can lead to extremely risky side effects.

You should also be sure to drink just as much, if not more, as soon as you come out of the sauna. Your body loses a lot of fluid very quickly after even a few minutes in that level of heat, so being well-hydrated is a non-negotiable. 

Not Everyone Should Go Into a Sauna

If you’re pregnant, have high blood pressure or heart problems, or take certain medications that may make you drowsy or fatigued, you should not be using sauna therapy. In fact, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting sauna therapy even if you don’t check any of these boxes. There are many other underlying conditions and substances that can make it extremely dangerous to expose your body to such high temperatures.

You should also be sure to remove any metal jewelry before stepping into a sauna.

Listen To Your Body

Once you’re in the sauna and soaking up some much-need relaxation, the most important rule is to listen to your body and immediately step out of the sauna if something doesn’t feel right. If you find yourself getting extremely lightheaded, thirsty or exhausted, or if your heart starts palpitating, step out of the sauna immediately and take some time to cool down. 

Even if you’re suddenly experiencing strange effects after years of regular sauna use, your body always knows exactly what you need to be healthy and safe. Listen to your body and prioritize your safety above all.

Practice Self-Care After Your Session

It’s not recommended to engage in sauna therapy if you’re crunched for time, since rushing right out of the sauna and into your car or another physical activity is extremely risky. Experts recommend taking at least 10 minutes to lie down or take a low, cooling shower after your sauna therapy session in order to ensure your body is fully cooled down to its regular temperature.