One of the major benefits of using the sauna is that it helps you relax both mentally and physically. Most users experience better sleep after using the sauna.
Experiencing difficulty falling asleep after a sauna session is not uncommon. Sweating it out in the warm, relaxing atmosphere feels great, but it can sometimes affect our ability to drift off to dreamland afterward. The reason for this may be related to the increase in heart rate and drop in blood pressure experienced during a sauna session, which can leave us feeling tired but unable to sleep afterward.
We are here to guide you on how to restore balance to your body after a sauna session, ensuring that you can enjoy the numerous benefits of sauna use while still maintaining good sleep hygiene. From cooling off your body to hydrating and creating an ideal sleep environment, we’ll share some helpful tips and advice that can help you sleep better after your sauna session.
Table of Contents
- Why Can’t You Sleep After a Sauna
- Impact of Sauna on Health
- Factors That Can Affect Sleep After Sauna
- How to Improve Sleep Quality Following a Sauna Session
- Recommendations & Precautions
Why Can’t You Sleep After a Sauna
1. Body Temperature
After a sauna session, our body temperature is higher than usual due to the heat exposure. While the increased temperature may feel relaxing, it can interfere with our body’s natural cooling process that occurs as we prepare for sleep. To help counteract this effect, we suggest gradually cooling down after the sauna, such as by immersing in cool water, having a cool shower, or simply relaxing in a cool environment for a short time.
2. Stress Relief
Although saunas can reduce stress and promote relaxation, sometimes they can have the opposite effect. If our minds are overly active and engaged after a sauna, it can be difficult to fall asleep. To ensure better sleep, we recommend engaging in calming activities after a sauna session, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to help bring our minds and bodies into a more relaxed state.
3. Hydration & Dehydration
During a sauna session, we can lose up to a pint of water from our bodies, which can lead to dehydration if not replenished properly. This dehydration can interfere with our sleep quality. To prevent this issue, we must drink at least 2 to 4 glasses of water after stepping out of the sauna and avoid drinking alcohol in the hours immediately following the session.
4. Effects on the Nervous System
When we use a sauna, our heart rate increases and blood vessels dilate, leading to a drop in blood pressure. This could leave us feeling tired and groggy after the session, affecting our ability to fall asleep. To mitigate this effect, we can try engaging in gentle physical activities such as stretching or yoga to help regulate our blood pressure and activate our parasympathetic nervous system, promoting more restful sleep.
Impact of Sauna on Health
As we explore the impact of sauna use on sleep, it’s important to also discuss how saunas affect our overall health. There are numerous health benefits tied to sauna use, but it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and precautions that need to be taken.
a. Saunas & Blood Pressure
Using a sauna can have both positive and negative effects on blood pressure. Many people find that a sauna session can lead to a temporary drop in blood pressure due to the widening of blood vessels and increased heart rate. However, individuals with high blood pressure or heart conditions should consult their doctor before participating in sauna sessions, as it can sometimes exacerbate existing health issues.
b. Sauna Use & Mental Health
There’s evidence to suggest that sauna use can positively impact mental health. The relaxing environment of a sauna may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, the increase in serotonin production after a sauna session could contribute to an improved mood and better sleep quality.
c. Infrared Saunas & Chronic Pain
Infrared saunas, in particular, have been linked to relief from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. The heat generated in an infrared sauna penetrates deeper into the body’s tissues, potentially providing soothing relief for those suffering from chronic pain. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, infrared saunas show promising potential for improving overall well-being.
d. Safety & Risks
While we’ve covered some of the benefits of sauna use, it’s essential to also highlight potential risks and safety precautions. For example, the heat of a sauna can lead to dehydration, so it’s vital to drink at least 2 to 4 glasses of water after a session. Moreover, those with existing health conditions such as diabetes or heart failure should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sauna sessions into their wellness routine.
Factors That Can Affect Sleep After Sauna
It’s important to be aware of factors that can influence our sleep quality after a sauna session. In this section, we’ll discuss several aspects that can make it difficult to fall asleep, and offer some tips on resolving these issues.
i. Meals & Snacking
Heavy meals close to bedtime can make it harder for us to fall asleep because our bodies need to focus on digestion. This can be especially problematic after a sauna, as our body is already regulating temperature and recovering. To prevent this issue, we recommend eating a light, easily digestible meal, and waiting at least 2 hours after eating before getting into bed.
ii. Caffeine & Alcohol Consumption
Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with our sleep quality. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, while alcohol can disrupt our sleep cycle, preventing us from experiencing restorative sleep. It’s best to avoid consuming these substances in the evening, especially after a sauna session, to ensure a good night’s sleep.
iii. Exercise & Workout Timing
While regular exercise can promote better sleep overall, exercising too close to bedtime may make it difficult to fall asleep. Our bodies remain stimulated for a period after a workout, and combining this with a sauna may keep us awake longer than we’d like. Ideally, we should try to finish any workouts at least a few hours before going to bed.
iv. Pre-existing Health Conditions & Medications
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and sleep disorders, can also impact our ability to sleep after a sauna session. Medications for these conditions may further affect our sleep patterns. If we suspect our sleep difficulties are related to a pre-existing condition or medication, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
How to Improve Sleep Quality Following a Sauna Session
In this section, we’ll explore some techniques to help improve your sleep quality after a sauna session. We’ll cover important aspects such as hydration and electrolyte management, cooling off and shower techniques, relaxation practices, and incorporating sauna sessions into your daily routine.
1. Hydration & Electrolyte Management
One of the main reasons for feeling tired after a sauna session is dehydration, as our body works hard to maintain homeostasis in the hot environment, and we lose water through sweating. To counteract this, it’s essential to replenish our body’s water supply by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after the sauna session. Adding electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium to our water can help restore the balance in our bodies and improve sleep quality.
2. Cooling Off & Shower Techniques
After the sauna session, it’s essential to let our body cool down gradually. A great way to do this is by taking a lukewarm or cool shower instead of a hot one. This helps bring our body temperature back to normal, making us feel calmer and fall asleep more easily later on. Using a soft towel to gently pat our skin dry can make us feel more relaxed and ready for bed.
3. Relaxation Practices
Relaxation techniques play a vital role in improving sleep quality. Following the sauna session, we can engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle stretching. Creating a calming bedtime routine that includes reading a book or listening to soft music helps signal to our body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
4. Incorporating Sauna Into Daily Routine
Regular sauna use may enhance our sleep quality when incorporated as a consistent part of our daily routine, as it helps condition our body and mind over time. However, it’s crucial to experiment with different times of the day to determine when a sauna session is most beneficial for our sleep patterns, as everyone’s body is unique. Finally, adhering to a regular sauna schedule and adjusting our lifestyle with additional healthy habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, can make a significant difference in our overall sleep quality.
Recommendations & Precautions
Using a sauna can be a great way to relax and improve overall health. However, there are some precautions to be aware of when using a sauna to ensure a positive experience and to help you sleep better afterward.
a. Sauna Frequency & Tolerance
As with any wellness practice, it’s essential to listen to our bodies and adjust sauna use to match our individual tolerance. If you’re a beginner or sensitive to heat, start with shorter sessions of 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. The recommended length of time to spend in a sauna is generally 15-20 minutes. Sweating is a natural and healthy process, but it is crucial to take gradual steps when increasing sauna frequency to avoid feeling overly fatigued afterward.
b. Consulting a Doctor Before Sauna Use
Before incorporating sauna sessions into our wellness routine, it is wise to consult a doctor, especially if we have any underlying health conditions or concerns. Some conditions may make sauna use riskier, while others may require monitoring of heart rate and overall health. Following the guidelines provided by your healthcare professional ensures a safe and beneficial experience.
c. Monitoring Health Conditions
When using a sauna, it is essential for us to monitor our health conditions closely. For example, it’s crucial to avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating or produce overheating before and after the sauna. Pay attention to your body and leave the sauna immediately if you experience dizziness, nausea, or other signs of discomfort. Drink water to stay hydrated and rehydrate after your sauna session.
By following these recommendations and precautions, we can make the most of our sauna sessions, ensuring that we can sleep well afterward and experience the many potential health benefits while minimizing risks.
After spending time in a sauna, you may find it challenging to fall asleep. This is primarily due to the body’s core temperature being raised during the sauna session, which can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.
In order to counteract this effect, it’s essential to allow your body to cool down adequately before attempting to sleep. You can do this by taking a cool shower, drinking cold water, or simply waiting for your body to adjust to the room temperature.
Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or practicing mindfulness, can also be beneficial in helping you calm down and prepare your mind for sleep after a sauna session.
While saunas offer numerous health benefits, it’s crucial to be aware of their potential impact on your sleep quality. With proper cooling down and relaxation methods, you can enjoy the benefits of a sauna while still ensuring a good night’s sleep.
(Featured image by SHVETS production from Pexels)