How to Use a Sauna Like a Pro: The Ultimate Guide

How to Use a Sauna

For many, the idea of relaxing in a warm, soothing sauna sounds delightful, but do you know how to use a sauna correctly? This guide is your one-stop resource for understanding the nuances of a sauna session. 

Whether it’s a dry sauna or a traditional steam sauna, we’ll cover the best practices, tips, and routines to make your experience both enjoyable and beneficial.

Key Takeaways

  • Why Use a Sauna: Saunas provide relaxation, improved circulation, detoxification, and can contribute to better cardiovascular health and stress relief.
  • Sauna Duration and Frequency: Begin with 5-10 minute sessions, 1-2 times per week, and listen to your body to gradually increase both duration and frequency.
  • Maximizing Benefits: To reap the best benefits, stay hydrated, alternate between hot and cold, and incorporate relaxation techniques during your sauna routine.
  • Precautions: Avoid alcohol, consult a doctor if you have health concerns, never sleep in a sauna, and always maintain good hygiene practices.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Sauna

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1. Preparation

  • What to Wear: Opt for a bathing suit or go nude, depending on the sauna’s culture and your comfort level. Avoid metal accessories as they can heat up.
  • What to Bring: Two towels (one to sit on and one for drying off), water for hydration, and flip-flops for hygiene.
  • What Not to Bring: Electronics, as heat can damage them, and avoid bringing in food or glass containers. Take note that even devices are rated to be waterproof and water resistant, they are not rated to withstand steam and can cause damage to them.

2. Entering the Sauna:

  • Choose a spot on a lower bench for your first time, as heat rises and it’s cooler lower down.
  • Place your towel on the bench for hygiene and sit or lay on it.

3. During the Session:

  • Duration: Beginners should start with 5-10 minutes. Gradually increase as you become more accustomed to the heat.
  • Breathing: Practice deep, relaxed breathing. Inhale through your nose to filter the air and exhale through your mouth.
  • Relaxation: Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and clear your mind for a meditative experience.

4. Cooling Down:

  • Gradually cool down after exiting the sauna.
  • Cold Plunge: If you’re using a cold plunge pool, stay in for about 15-30 seconds. Listen to your body; if you feel too cold, it’s time to get out.
  • Hydration: Drink water to rehydrate.

5. Repeating Sessions:

  • Wait at least 10-20 minutes before returning to the sauna, to allow your body to normalize.
  • You can repeat the sauna and cool-down process 2-3 times.

Additional Tips:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during (if possible), and after your sauna session.
  • Have a light snack an hour before the sauna if needed, but avoid heavy meals.
  • Exit the sauna if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or uncomfortable.
  • Take a shower to rinse off and gradually cool down your body.

What Not to Do:

  • Avoid alcohol before or immediately after a sauna session, as it can increase dehydration and affect blood pressure.
  • Do not pour water on the heater if you’re in an infrared sauna, as these are designed to operate dry.

Dry Sauna vs. Wet Sauna

Understanding how to use a dry sauna versus a wet sauna is crucial. In a dry sauna, the air is typically drier, which might allow for a longer session. However, in a wet sauna, the humidity is higher due to water being thrown on the hot stones, creating steam.

Creating a Sauna Routine

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A regular sauna routine can maximize the health benefits. Start with once a week and gradually increase as you feel comfortable. Remember, the key is consistency and listening to your body.

Post Sauna Care

What to do after a sauna is as important as the sauna session itself. Rehydrate, rest, and if possible, follow up your sauna with a relaxing activity.

Sauna Tips for Beginners

Preparation and Etiquette: It’s essential to wait at least an hour and a half after eating before entering a sauna. Avoid using the sauna right after intense physical exercise; rest for at least 30 minutes. Also, saunas should not be used after consuming alcohol or other substances.

Frequency and Duration: For regular sauna users, it’s advisable to start with once a week and gradually increase to daily use if comfortable. Each session can last from one to two and a half hours. Beginners should limit their time in the sauna to a few minutes and gradually increase to up to 15 minutes over three sessions.

Sauna Rules:

  • Always remove clothes and jewelry, and bring a sheet to sit on in the sauna.
  • Shower before entering to remove perfumes and prepare the skin.
  • Dry off completely before entering to speed up perspiration.
  • Warm your legs with a shower before entering, as cold legs can delay the effects of perspiration.
  • Use a sheet or towel to sit in the sauna and close the door quickly to maintain heat.
  • Start on a lower bench where the temperature is milder, and lie or sit still while in the sauna.
  • Limit the first session to 10-12 minutes, cooling off slowly afterwards.
  • It’s okay to talk in the sauna, but be mindful of others’ relaxation.
  • Repeat the sauna sessions with slightly more humidity each time, and ensure to cool off after each session.
  • Finally, hydrate with water or unsweetened tea, and relax after the sauna.


How long should a beginner stay in a sauna?

Beginners should start with 5-10 minutes per session and gradually increase the duration.

Can I take my phone into a sauna?

It’s best to leave electronics out as the heat can damage them and it’s a time to disconnect.

Is it safe to use a sauna every day?

Daily use is generally safe for healthy individuals, but it’s important to listen to your body’s signals.


Using a sauna can be a deeply relaxing and beneficial experience when done correctly. Remember, the key to a successful sauna session is understanding the process, respecting your body’s limits, and following the guidelines for safety and hygiene. Happy sauna-ing!

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