Saunas are a popular way to unwind and relax after a long day.
They are known for their therapeutic benefits, including stress relief, improved circulation, and muscle relaxation.
However, there is some debate about whether it is better to sit or lie down in a sauna.
In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of both positions and help you decide which one is best for you.
Benefits of Sauna
Before we discuss whether to sit or lie down in a sauna, let's first review the benefits of sauna.
Saunas have been used for thousands of years to promote relaxation and improve health. They are known to:
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Improve circulation
- Reduce inflammation
- Boost the immune system
- Help with weight loss
- Improve skin health
There are two main types of saunas: traditional and infrared.
Traditional saunas use heat from a wood, gas, or electric stove to warm the air, while infrared saunas use infrared heaters to directly heat the body.
Both types of saunas offer similar benefits, but infrared saunas may be more effective at penetrating the skin and promoting detoxification.
The Science of Sauna
The heat in a sauna causes the body to sweat, which helps to remove toxins from the body.
Sweating also helps to regulate body temperature and improve circulation. Saunas can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help to relieve stress and improve mood.
Research has shown that regular sauna use may also have long-term health benefits.
One study found that people who used a sauna 4-7 times per week were 66% less likely to develop dementia than those who used a sauna only once per week.
Another study found that regular sauna use may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sitting in a Sauna
Sitting in a sauna is the most common position, and many people find it comfortable and relaxing.
When sitting in a sauna, it is recommended to sit upright with your back against the wall.
This allows you to breathe more easily and helps to avoid overheating.
Sitting in a sauna can be particularly beneficial for people with respiratory issues, such as asthma or allergies.
The hot, moist air can help to open up the airways and improve breathing.
It can also be a good option for people who are new to sauna, as it is less intense than lying down.
Lying Down in a Sauna
Lying down in a sauna is less common than sitting, but it can be a great way to fully relax and unwind.
When lying down, it is important to use a towel or cushion to protect your skin from the hot surface of the bench.
You should also be careful not to overheat, as lying down can make it harder to regulate body temperature.
Lying down in a sauna can be particularly beneficial for people with back pain or other musculoskeletal issues.
It allows the body to fully relax and release tension. It can also be a good option for people who are looking for a more intense sauna experience.
Pros and Cons of Sitting and Lying Down
Both sitting and lying down in a sauna have their pros and cons. Here are some things to consider:
- Comfortable and relaxing
- May not provide as intense of a sauna experience
- Can be difficult to breathe if sitting too close to the heat source
- May not be as effective for releasing tension in the body
- Allows for full relaxation and tension release
- Can provide a more intense sauna experience
- Good for people with back pain or other musculoskeletal issues
- May be more difficult to regulate body temperature
- Can be uncomfortable without proper cushioning or towels
- Not recommended for people with respiratory issues
Ultimately, the decision between sitting and lying down in a sauna will depend on personal preference and physical limitations.
Some people may find that they prefer to switch between the two positions, or alternate between sitting and lying down during a sauna session.
How to Sauna
Whether you choose to sit or lie down in a sauna, there are some best practices to follow to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips for how to sauna:
Start with a clean body: Shower before entering the sauna to remove any lotions, oils, or other products that could clog pores or interfere with sweating.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the sauna to avoid dehydration.
Limit time in the sauna: Start with short sessions (10-15 minutes) and gradually work up to longer sessions (up to 30 minutes). Take breaks between sessions to cool down and rehydrate.
Don't overheat: If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, or experience any other discomfort, leave the sauna immediately.
Cool down properly: After a sauna session, take a cool shower or dip in a pool to cool down the body and close pores.
Safety Precautions in Sauna
While saunas can be a great way to relax and unwind, it is important to take safety precautions to avoid injury or discomfort. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Never leave children unattended in a sauna
- Avoid alcohol or drugs before or during a sauna session
- Do not use a sauna if you are pregnant or have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure
- Do not use a sauna if you are feeling ill or have a fever
- Always use a towel or cushion to protect your skin from the hot surface of the bench
- Do not pour water on the heating element unless instructed to do so by the manufacturer
Choosing Between Sitting and Lying Down
So, is it better to sit or lie down in a sauna?
The answer is that it depends on your personal preference and physical limitations.
Both positions offer benefits and drawbacks, and the decision will ultimately come down to what feels most comfortable and enjoyable for you.
If you are new to sauna or have respiratory issues, sitting may be a good option.
If you are looking for a more intense sauna experience or have musculoskeletal issues, lying down may be a better choice.
It is also worth considering switching between the two positions or alternating between sitting and lying down during a sauna session.
Is it safe to use a sauna every day? While sauna use has many health benefits, it is not recommended to use a sauna every day. It is best to start with short sessions and gradually work up to longer sessions, and to take breaks between sessions to cool down and rehydrate.
Can sauna help with weight loss? Sauna use may help with weight loss by increasing metabolism and promoting detoxification, but it should not be relied on as a sole method of weight loss.
Can sauna be harmful? Sauna can be harmful if not used properly. It is important to follow safety precautions and to limit time in the sauna to avoid dehydration, overheating, or other potential risks.
How hot should a sauna be? The temperature in a sauna can vary, but it is typically between 70-100 degrees Celsius (160-212 degrees Fahrenheit). It is important to start with a lower temperature and gradually increase as your body acclimates.
Can sauna help with muscle recovery? Sauna use may help with muscle recovery by promoting circulation and reducing inflammation. However, it should not be used as a substitute for proper rest and recovery after exercise.
Saunas are a popular way to relax and unwind, and they offer many health benefits, including stress relief, improved circulation, and muscle relaxation.
Whether you choose to sit or lie down in a sauna will depend on personal preference and physical limitations.
Both positions offer benefits and drawbacks, and it may be worth considering switching between the two positions or alternating between sitting and lying down during a sauna session.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable sauna experience, it is important to follow safety precautions and to limit time in the sauna to avoid dehydration, overheating, or other potential risks.
With proper care and attention, sauna use can be a great way to improve your health and well-being.
More From the Sauna Blog:
How much water should I drink after infrared sauna?
Where is the best place to put an infrared sauna?