There are many "sauna rules" out there that may make you feel that you have to take 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 considerably improve your health.
Having two rounds of sweat leaves you feeling incredibly refreshed and healthy.
Don't forget to adjust the exercise to your own fitness level.
2. COOL DOWN AFTER YOUR WORKOUT BEFORE ENTERING THE SAUNA
If you did heavy exercise, give your body time to cool down before going to the sauna. I like to take at least an hour to settle down. Going to the sauna immediately after exercise can be used as a "fitness hack," but it's an advanced tactic for serious athletes (and not exactly a fun one). Just doing exercise and going to the sauna after cooling down is more than most people do for their health.
3. AVOID EATING BEFORE GOING TO THE SAUNA
Having a light snack before the sauna is ok, but large meals are a bit problematic. Eating a lot makes your body concentrate the blood flow to your stomach, and being in a hot environment makes the body focus the blood flow to the outer skin layers. When it tries to do both simultaneously, you may end up feeling not very good.
If you've done exercise before the sauna, having a sports drink is probably a good idea. You want to have the electrolytes up and be well hydrated. That prevents you from becoming woozy in the sauna. Another helpful tip is always to have enough drinking water available.
4. WHEN TO GO TO THE SAUNA
You can do a sauna session at any time of the year, week, or day. It makes no real difference whether you do it in the morning or at night - use it often, as that's how the extreme health benefits are shown to happen.
5. HOW HOT SHOULD YOU HEAT THE SAUNA?
We recommend an average temperature between 160º-180ºF. There's a limit in the electric heaters sold in the United States that turns them off when the sauna gets to 194ºF; this is a good rule of thumb for a maximum enjoyable sauna temperature.
Sauna is about taking it slow and enjoying life, not baking yourself at maximum heat.
6. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GO TO THE SAUNA?
According to the scientific study that followed the health of over 2000 Finnish men over 20 years, the best sauna health effects were had by having a sauna 4-7 times a week, with the sauna at 174ºF and with 20-minute sauna sessions.
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, with or without exercise and cold treatment - 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 let your body cool down, get ready for a great night's sleep, knowing that you've just done wonders for your mind and body.