Cyber Monday Sale, Going on Now! See Details Here.

The Perfect Sauna Routine

Turns out, the best way to sauna is what works for you! 

You set the mallet and power drill down and survey your work proudly. A brand new Almost Heaven sauna sits in front of you. You can’t wait to give it a try, but then are struck by the question: “What’s the best way to sauna?” 

The good news is that your sauna is versatile—there for you however you want to use it, whenever you want to use it. Of course, there are some sauna guidelines to follow, but overall, how you use your sauna comes down to what works best for you. The fun part is determining your perfect sauna routine! Barrel sauna on a patio

You can experiment with dozens of variations that can impact your sauna experience. What temperature to sauna at, how long to sauna for, what time of day you sauna, what to pair the sauna with, etc. To help inspire you, we found out how other Almost Heaven owners best enjoy their saunas to spark ideas for creating your own routine!

When to sauna:

There’s no right time to sauna, however, the timing of your sauna can result in different benefits. 

Morning sauna vs. evening sauna

Sauna in the morning for an effective wake-up call! Get your blood pumping and your body feeling stimulated. If you like to work out in the mornings, sauna is a good pairing. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed won’t be an all-day problem either, as sauna helps boost endorphins and increase the feeling of happiness. We’ve even gone so far as to question, can sauna replace your morning coffee?   

A snow-topped barrel sauna at sunrise.

If a morning sauna isn’t your thing, taking a sauna in the evening also has its perks. Setting aside time at the end of the day to sit and breathe without the presence of electronics is extremely therapeutic and calming. One of the sauna’s magic powers is helping you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper than you do on a typical night. 

Of our Almost Heaven Saunas user poll, 71% said they preferred an evening sauna over a morning sauna. Keep in mind that if you sauna in the evening, wait a few hours after dinner to avoid hopping in with a full stomach.

Pre-workout vs. post-workout sauna

Your sauna is an incredible tool that can assist in your health goals. For the gym rats out there, sauna pairs beautifully with your workout. Using the sauna before you hit the gym can help warm your muscles and get your heart rate going. 

Using the sauna after your workout aids in helping your muscles recover. Unless you enjoy walking like a newborn goat for a day or two after working out, we think that’s a major perk. Additionally, studies indicate that taking a sauna after a workout can help boost sports endurance. Sauna is a great reward for a challenging workout—turn your heater on before you begin and by the time you finish up, it’ll be ready for you! As Instagram user @jasonschwan has discovered, his favorite routine involves starting the heater up, hitting the road to run a 10K, and getting back with perfect timing to jump in the sauna.

Bridgeport 6-person indoor sauna in a home gym.

Post-workout saunas were the clear winner with 88% of our audience preferring to finish out their time at the gym with a good sweat. Whenever you choose to take a sauna, remember to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water well before you get in, between rounds, and after the sauna. 

How long to sauna for:

Sauna bathing is a ritual to many: some stretch the experience to an all-day event, while others fit sauna in where they can. There’s not a universal best length of time to spend in the sauna. It all depends on how your body responds to shorter vs. longer sauna sessions.

Short time vs. longer time

If you’re new to the sauna experience, keep your time short in the beginning and work your way up to longer stretches of time, depending on what your body is comfortable with. If you start to feel too hot, it’s time to take a break. We recommend beginning in five-minute increments to give your body a chance to acclimate. Most Almost Heaven sauna users reported their ideal time in the sauna ranged from 10 to 15 minutes, with 25 minutes being the longest.

Additionally, the temperature at which you sauna might play a role in creating your perfect sauna routine. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different temperatures, as the best temperature to sauna varies by person.

The interior of a barrel sauna with a sand timer.

One round vs. multiple rounds

If you’re short on time, you might have to keep your sauna experience to one round. However, if you have the time to experiment, try rotating between a sauna session and a cooling session multiple times! From our polls of Almost Heaven sauna users, it seems that three to four rounds of sauna + cooling is the sweet spot, though feel it out for what is best for your body and routine. Here are some of our favorite example routines: 

  • “4 sessions with breaks in between: 15 minutes inside, 5 out, 15 in, 10 out, 15 in, 10 out, 10 in, 10 out, and then relax” – @daniel_ukiah
  • “15 minutes in dry heat, plunge in cold water 1-2 minutes, repeat 2-5 times” – @wildbobsmith
  • “Sauna and swim, repeat 3 times” – @oskuo

Multiple rounds in the sauna can increase the amount of heat stress that your body is under. Though stress is usually something to avoid, in this situation, heat stress is beneficial. We promise. Heat stress helps to increase the production of heat shock proteins, which assist in repairing damaged cells. Evidence also points to heat shock proteins increasing protection against neurodegenerative diseases. 

So don’t be afraid to spend some extra time treating yourself with sauna. Your body will thank you for it! But remember, the best way to the sauna is what feels best for you. 

What to do between or during sauna rounds:

Hydrate

Though we told you there’s no best way to sauna, we’re taking that back in this section: Hydration is a must! Sweat is a guaranteed part of the sauna experience, and it’s imperative that you’re prepared by drinking plenty of water leading up to the sauna and continue hydrating throughout and after your sauna session.

In the sauna: Relax vs. stimulate

You’ll likely spend somewhere between five and 25 minutes in the sauna for each round. So what do you do with that time? Some people are content being with their own thoughts and breathing through the heat, but for others, spending time just sitting seems unfathomable! You can choose to use sauna as a means of relaxing and reflecting or as a means of stimulation.

To relax during your sauna, try meditating or reflecting through journaling. Experiment with different breathing patterns and pay close attention to your senses. Instagram user @junebug11223 enhances their experience by always having spa music playing to increase the positive vibes they get from sauna.

A woman meditates inside a sauna.

Engage your mind during your sauna by reading or listening to a podcast to get your brain moving. Doodle. Plan for your day. Whoever says they get their best ideas in the shower has obviously never experienced the power of a sauna session! If you’re wanting to push yourself physically, try a light workout, do yoga, or stretch. 

For multiple rounds in the sauna, you can further customize your experience by trying out a new activity each round. What if you start out by relaxing and add more stimulation each round? Or vice versa? Find your favorite way because, after all, the best way to sauna is what works best for you. 

In the sauna: Wet vs. dry sauna 

Our traditional saunas have electric or wood-burning heaters that include sauna stones. If you sprinkle water over the stones to create steam and humidity, you have yourself a wet sauna. If you abstain from putting water on the rocks, it’s a dry sauna. The two experiences feel completely different, so we recommend giving both a try to discover what you like the most. 

Water is ladled over sauna stones.

The experience of creating sauna steam is so beloved in Finnish culture that it has its own term: löyly. Almost Heaven sauna users are split, however—dry saunas narrowly have the edge on wet saunas with 53% preferring to take their sauna dry.

Between sauna rounds: Cold plunge vs. cold shower

The idea of submerging your body in cold water may sound 0% appealing, but after sweating in a sauna, you may change your mind! It’s important to cool off between sauna rounds. This doesn’t have to be in the form of an icy bath, cold shower, or a flop in the snow, but giving your body a break from heat stress when it becomes uncomfortable is important. 

It’s Finnish tradition to take a dip in a lake or jump in a snowbank between sauna rounds. If neither of those are conveniently located near your sauna, you might have to get creative. Enter the rise in popularity for cold plunge tubs and cold showers. Remember those heat shock proteins we talked about earlier? Cold exposure helps to create cold shock proteins, which include benefits for your muscles, cells, brain, mood, and more. Cold plunge tubs were more popular with our Almost Heaven sauna users with 62% preferring a cold dip and 38% preferring a cold rinse in a shower between sauna rounds.

The best way to sauna is your way to sauna

We hope we got the point across: there are so many ways to sauna, but the right one is what works for your body! Have fun experimenting and creating your own sauna routine. The benefits of sauna are too good to pass up, so it’s a worthwhile routine to build into your life. Remember that every body is different, so if you have any questions or hesitations about what works for you, contact your doctor before trying out heat or cold therapy.

If you need help finding your dream sauna or have questions, Almost Heaven Saunas is here to help with over 40 years of traditional sauna-building experience! Give us a call at 888.355.3050 or email sales@almostheaven.com

January 22, 2021 •