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100 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
FREE COLD PLUNGE WITH EVERY SAUNA
4.7/5 ON TRUSTPILOT
100 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
FREE COLD PLUNGE WITH EVERY SAUNA
4.7/5 ON TRUSTPILOT
100 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
FREE COLD PLUNGE WITH EVERY SAUNA
4.7/5 ON TRUSTPILOT

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Article: How Sauna Helps Us Sleep Better

How Sauna Helps Us Sleep Better

How Sauna Helps Us Sleep Better

Written by Chris Lang

 

Saunas have long been used for their varied benefits that promote natural healing and relaxation. The sweltering heat allows the body to remove stress and provides muscle relief. It’s not uncommon to feel sleepy after a longer sauna session. But is sauna good before bed?

Apart from the general physical and mental health benefits of saunas, getting into a sauna before bed can promote the body’s natural sleep cycle and improve sleep quality. Let’s take a deep dive into how a sauna helps people sleep better.

The Science Behind Sauna and Sleep

Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of sauna use, let’s first talk about how humans sleep. While the subject of why we sleep is still a bit up for debate, the mechanism of falling asleep revolves around one important hormone: melatonin.

While you can find melatonin in capsule form, it’s naturally produced by the body when it stops detecting certain frequencies of light. Most commonly, melatonin production starts when the sun goes down and ebbs and flows throughout the night. While it’s not entirely vital to have high levels of melatonin to fall asleep (as general fatigue also triggers the process), higher melatonin levels generally correlate with better sleep quality.

Apart from needing a lack of light, melatonin production is highly dependent on ambient and core body temperatures. This is why you may have found it nearly impossible to sleep if it’s hot outside.

The last part is where a sauna works its magic. Normally, by putting the body in a high-heat environment, a sauna triggers the natural heat shock response and causes sweating. But it’s what happens after the sauna that makes it good for sleep.

When you start cooling down after a sauna session, your body gets tricked into thinking it’s entered a colder environment. This cooling effect can improve melatonin production, which makes you sleepy, and can improve sleep both short- and long-term.

This effect is analogous to a widely researched topic on the benefits of hot showers or baths before bed. Much like with a sauna, a long hot shower or bath can induce a similar level of drowsiness by triggering the body’s melatonin production.

Additionally, near-infrared light has been found to have a vital effect in jumpstarting the process of producing melatonin. As such, an infrared sauna that uses a near-infrared lamp can provide even more benefits than a traditional steam room.

Benefits of Sauna Before Bed

Apart from the improved melatonin production, the general benefits of the sauna can work wonders to prepare you for bedtime.

First, there’s the aspect of muscle relaxation. By relieving your aching body from fatigue, you’re essentially making it much easier to ignore your aching muscles and keep your bed a calming environment to promote better sleep.

Secondly, a sauna is a powerful meditation tool. It can reduce stress and have a long-term positive effect on your mental well-being. Using the sauna after a long day of work can help you leave your troubles behind and make your bedtime more focused on resting rather than unwinding.

A sauna session also improves blood flow throughout the body, which can have a cascading effect on your general well-being. The rush of different hormones, such as dopamine and endorphins, can help balance your natural hormone levels. It can prevent an issue called hormonal insomnia, where a hormonal imbalance makes you unable to fall asleep.

If you’re not sure when to use a sauna and how to fit it into a busy schedule, then your best bet might be to incorporate it into your afternoon or evening unwinding routine. That way, the general benefits can be combined with improved melatonin production to improve sleep.

Sauna Tips for Better Sleep

While the general health benefits of sauna remain regardless of when you use it, using sauna sessions to improve sleep quality is more of an art. Since the body’s circadian rhythm and melatonin production are highly attuned to the time of day (or more specifically, available light), you need to work around that if you want to get the best results.

Sauna Duration and Timing

There is no consensus on the necessary duration of a sauna session needed to get the most benefits for sleep. The main beneficial effects of a sauna start taking place after spending at least 15 to 30 minutes in a high-temperature environment.

At the same time, if you use a sauna for longer, your body will likely need more water to replenish the fluid it loses while sweating. This can become a problem since you may wake up during the night to use the toilet. It might be best to stick to around 20-minute sessions.

However, if you plan to use a sauna multiple times per day—for example, to get the most sauna workout advantages in the morning—keep the sauna time per session a bit shorter, to around 15 minutes.

As for how early you need to use the sauna before you go to bed, the research isn’t quite clear on that. Since most sauna studies don’t specifically track sleep improvement, you can use the existing studies on heat therapy as a guide.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to end a sauna session around two hours before bedtime. This should give your body enough time to cool down sufficiently and cause the necessary spike in melatonin production while not being too early to balance the core body temperature fully and lose the effect entirely.

Sauna Temperature and Hydration

The sauna temperature is mainly a factor in choosing the type of sauna you need. Since the main factors in achieving a positive effect on sleep quality rely on the core body temperature, this boils down to how much a sauna heats you up.

In general, this is not particularly connected to the sauna temperature settings, but how it operates. A traditional sauna operating at a temperature of 180 F will likely heat your body the same as an infrared sauna at 120 F given enough time.

However, an infrared sauna has an edge since it heats the body more evenly from the inside out. The infrared heat penetrates deeper and increases the core body temperature faster. If you aim to keep the session short, it will be the better choice.

That said, considering prior advice on keeping the sauna session shorter, you may be tempted to turn up the heat to get hotter faster. While this will theoretically work, you run into diminishing returns with both time and temperature since your body can heat up only so much and will sweat more.

Regardless of the type of sauna you use and the temperature setting, you need to keep an eye on hydration. If you lose too much water, you will likely overcompensate by drinking a lot close to bed. This can lead to waking up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and waste all the potential sleep benefits the sauna might’ve given you.

Sauna Safety

Regardless of whether you use the sauna in your home or go to a local spa for your sessions, you should make safety your priority when using one.

First, avoid sauna use if you have any skin conditions or pre-existing heart issues. The sauna’s high heat and humidity can exacerbate these problems.

Additionally, sauna therapy is not recommended for everyone, and different people will react to a sauna in different ways.

Even if you’re a frequent sauna-goer, such as someone who uses a steam sauna before or after a massage, you should drink plenty of water before and after a session and avoid consuming alcohol close to one. Alcohol only makes the dehydration worse.

Potential Risks and Considerations

While saunas generally have minimal risks when used properly, they may impede your sleep instead of improving sleep quality.

For example, let’s take the infrared sauna. While near-infrared has a positive effect on melatonin production, it’s still a form of light and the lamps still emit some artificial lighting in other frequencies. As such, the effect can be diminished or the melatonin production can start at the wrong time.

On the other hand, a steam room can be too hot to adequately lower your body temperature. Since a cooling temperature is a sign to your body to produce melatonin, exposure to high heat later in the evening can stop that process entirely.

Finally, the effects of sauna use for sleep aren’t fully understood and don’t affect everyone the same way. Even if you use the sauna perfectly, set the temperature low, and go to bed exactly two hours later, you might not get any more sleep than usual.

Alternatives to Sauna for Better Sleep

If using a commercial sauna as a sleep improvement method doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways you can try to get more and better sleep at night.

First off, try meditating. You can even use a sauna room for meditation. Meditating helps you unwind, which can positively affect sleep quality and improve your general well-being.

Second, you don’t have to use a full-blown sauna to get these benefits. You can use a personal sauna from Komowa to get the same results right at your home. Alternatively, you can use a heated body bag to increase your body temperature and start sweating.

If you don’t think a sauna alone is doing it for you, you can take a melatonin supplement before going to bed. Artificial melatonin creates the same effect as the naturally occurring hormone and helps you get more natural sleep. It’s not an addictive substance, and you can use it to fight jetlag as well.

Personal Testimonials

Michael: “Using a sauna before going to bed has changed my life. Just a 20-minute session has helped me sleep throughout the night and wake up rested.”

Jenny: “After learning how many health benefits a sauna brings, I had to try one out. Not only does it make me sleep better, but it also helps me relax after work and gives me some much-needed me time.”

Tom: “After reading that regularly using a sauna can make it easier to fall asleep, I was a bit skeptical. But it was true! I now sleep much better and have a lot less stress to boot.”

Conclusion

While traditionally used as a relaxation method, the health benefits of saunas almost perfectly translate into improved sleep. If you use the sauna at the right time, you can ensure your body produces the oh-so-needed melatonin that helps you get to sleep quickly and without tossing and turning.

Even if you don’t plan to use a sauna to fall asleep, the relaxation benefits of installing a home sauna can be well worth the effort. Plus, a personal sauna is much easier to maintain and use.

Keep in mind, however, that saunas do carry their own risks. If you have a chronic illness or are worried about the side effects of long-term sauna use, consult a healthcare professional first.

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