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How do you relax properly in the sauna? 3 stages for healthy sauna use

Like most wellness treatments that are beneficial to our health, sauna is based on exposure to hot temperatures and then cooling off, which results in strengthening our immunity. If you want to try out a Finnish sauna or indulge in this type of sauna on a regular basis, it is always important to remember the following healthy procedure which has its own rules.

How do you relax properly in the sauna? 3 stages for healthy sauna use

During your sauna session, you need to control the conditions in the sauna, especially three basic parameters, namely the air temperature, the humidity in the cabin and the length of your stay in the sauna. Temperatures in the Finnish sauna can reach up to 90 °C. Such high temperatures may not be comfortable for everyone, and our bodies have to get used to them first. That’s why it’s better to acclimatise to the sauna first. Most sauna cabins have benches arranged on three levels. This is due to the temperature difference that naturally occurs in the sauna. While the lower benches have a temperature of around 60 °C, the higher benches reach 90 °C at head height. The humidity in the Finnish sauna should be between 5 % and 15 % at the level of the second bench.

By choosing your bench and position, you also choose the conditions you want to be exposed to. After entering the sauna, it is a good idea to sit down on the lowest bench for a few moments, where the air is cooler and more humid, to acclimatise your body to the conditions. The temperature difference between the benches can be as much as 30 °C, so it is better to lie down or sit with your feet on the bench at the same level as the one you are sitting on. This way our body can take the temperature evenly and we avoid any possible problems.

And how do you actually take a sauna healthily? A healthy sauna process takes place in cycles consisting of three phases: preparation, warm-up and cool-down. It is good to repeat this cycle ideally three times or at least twice to achieve the desired effects. Whether you choose to take a sauna with two or three cycles depends on three factors: how you feel, how much time you have and how much experience you have with Finnish saunas. Remember, however, that a proper and healthy sauna procedure has three phases:


For reasons of hygiene, you should shower and dry yourself thoroughly before entering the sauna. This will remove the impurities from our skin that could delay the sweating process. We enter the sauna naked and without metal jewellery, watches or glasses. If you don’t want to sauna in a sheet or a damp towel, there are a range of sauna textiles you can use, including kilts and sarongs and even sauna hats to protect your hair from drying out.


During the first cycle, the sauna should last 8–12 minutes. If you are trying out the Finnish sauna for the first time, or if you do not visit spas regularly, you should start with a shorter warm-up time involving a little acclimatisation on the lower bench. Sit or lie as still as possible in the sauna. It is recommended not to talk and to completely immerse yourself in peace and relaxation. Always stay awake in the sauna, monitor how you feel and never fall asleep. A minute or two before the end of the warm-up phase, it is a good idea to lower the legs and shake your ankles to restore circulation. After you leave the cabin, do not stand still, but rather walk around to prevent a sharp drop in blood pressure.


After warming up in the sauna cabin, there is a cooling phase, which is very important to achieve the health benefits of the Finnish sauna. Cooling pools or showers are most often used to cool down quickly during wellness treatments, as water absorbs heat faster than air. The water temperature in the cooling pool is usually around 10 °C. The pool is the most effective method of cooling, providing one-time rapid cooling. However, in order to protect our bodies, it is a good idea to take a walk in the fresh air before entering the cold water. This cools the air in our lungs and gets the blood flowing in our extremities. Don’t stand still as kit could make you feel faint. After a few minutes, immerse yourself in the cold water. If you don’t like the temperature shock of a sharp cooling in the pool, you can opt for a cold cooling shower or perhaps a walk in the snow if you have that option available.

After cooling down completely, take a short rest. During time spent in the relaxation area, it is a good idea to replenish fluids, as the Finnish sauna causes up to 4 times more intense sweating than during normal activity. After you have had enough relaxation and your body has returned to normal temperature, you can go into the sauna again and repeat the cycle once or twice more. The second and third sauna sessions should last about 15 minutes. After the last phase of your sauna session, don’t forget to have a good rest. The cool-down and rest phase should last 12–20 minutes each time.


Always remember to drink and not to skip the final rest period. Drink at least 0.7 litres more than you are normally used to during the day when you treat yourself to a sauna. You should not enter the sauna hungry, and it is a good idea to have a snack afterwards to replenish the energy your body has lost during the sauna.

While taking a sauna is a means of relaxation, you must not enter the Finnish sauna if you are feeling stressed. This is due to increased heart activity from agitation, during which our body can behave erratically in response to a rapid temperature change. If you are stressed or angry in any way, stay in the relaxation zone for 15–30 minutes before heading to the sauna.

Do not enter the sauna if you are particularly hungry or thirsty. Hunger is a source of stress for our organism, and thirst indicates a lack of fluids, during which the blood thickens. In addition, you are about to be exposed to intense sweating.

Do not enter the sauna wet or with cold feet. Both of these states slow down the onset of sweating.

Do not sit or lie on the lower bench in the sauna for the entire sauna session. It has no effect and you’re just putting unnecessary strain on your heart. Also avoid boisterous debating, massages or any physical exertion and relax in peace so as not to overload your body unnecessarily.

Do not leave the sauna area until your body has cooled down completely and your blood circulation is back to normal.