There are many "sauna rules" that may make you feel like you have to use your sauna in some specifically defined way - no need to stress about that. The best thing about having your very own home sauna is that you get to make the rules.
These recommendations apply whether you own an outdoor sauna, an indoor sauna, a pre-cut sauna, or a portable sauna.
1. WORKOUT BEFORE YOUR SAUNA SESSION
Combining saunas and exercise is a proven way to extend your life span and improve overall health. Having two rounds of sweat leaves you feeling incredibly refreshed and healthy.
2. COOL DOWN AFTER YOUR WORKOUT AND BEFORE ENTERING THE SAUNA
If you did heavy exercise, give your body time to cool down before going to the sauna. We recommend taking at least an hour to settle down. Going to the sauna immediately after exercise can be used as a "fitness hack" (this is an advanced tactic for serious athletes and not exactly a fun one). Doing exercise and using the sauna after cooling down is more suitable for non-athletes.
3. AVOID EATING BEFORE GOING TO THE SAUNA
Having a light snack before the sauna is ok, but large meals are problematic. Eating large meals makes your body concentrate the blood flow to your stomach. Being in a hot environment makes the body focus the blood flow to the outer skin layers. You can feel sick, dizzy, and even faint when your body tries to do both simultaneously.
If you've done exercise before the sauna, having a sports drink is probably a good idea. You want to be well hydrated before, during, and after a session. Being hydrated prevents you from becoming woozy in the sauna. Make sure you always have enough drinking water available.
4. WHEN TO GO TO THE SAUNA
You can use your sauna at any time of the year, week, or day. It makes no real difference. We recommend using it often but cautiously, as that's how the extreme health benefits are proven to happen.
5. HOW HOT SHOULD YOU HEAT THE SAUNA?
We recommend an average temperature between 160º-180ºF. Most electric heaters sold in the United States include an automated system that notifies the user when the sauna gets above the recommended temperature. Sauna bathing is about taking it slow and enjoying the process, not baking yourself at maximum heat.
6. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GO TO THE SAUNA?
A scientific study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland that tracked 2300 Finnish men for over 20 years showed that people who used their saunas 4-7 times a week for an average of 20 minutes reduced their risk for heart disease considerably.
7. COLD TREATMENT
If you have a chance, try combining the sauna with cold treatment. In addition to exercise and sauna, cold treatment is the third way to supercharge your health. The traditional Finnish way of doing this is to go swimming in a hole in the ice. If this sounds too extreme, an easier way to do it is to have a cool shower. You can turn it colder when you get used to the idea first.
8. AFTER THE SAUNA
You've had your sauna session - then what?
At this point, you're very relaxed and refreshed. It's an excellent time to eat something and let your body cool down. Don't go straight to sleep after the sauna; this is not recommended as you're still feeling the residual heat from the sauna.
After you've relaxed and your body has cooled down, get ready for a great night's sleep. Relaxation comes when the body releases endorphins. As the endorphins begin to dissipate and the body temperature lowers throughout the evening, at bedtime, your body will have reached its relaxation climax. Thus helping sauna bathers have a deeper sleep.