Is It Bad to Drink Water in a Sauna? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

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Sauna sessions can be an invigorating experience for the body and mind.  The conditions in the sauna are key in providing the most out of a session, and often lead to a lot of sweating.

With all that sweating, it’s only normal to get thirsty during a sauna session.  So, you tell your friends about it, but what they’re saying confuses you.

Some of them advise you not to drink water during a session, while others say it’s okay. So, is it bad to drink water in a sauna, or is that just a myth?

The answer to that depends on what you want to achieve.

Today, we’re going to explore why drinking water could benefit some people and why some people find it to be counterproductive in other cases. We’re also going to review how to replenish hydration after a sauna session.

Why Do People Go to Saunas Despite the Risk of Dehydration?

The two main types of saunas include Dry Saunas and Steam Saunas.

Dry saunas use higher heat with less humidity, while steam saunas use lower heat with higher humidity. Users will often sweat more when in a dry sauna, which could increase the risk of dehydration.

First used in Finland, the sauna—which means Finnish steam bath—has become a place of comfort, especially during the winter seasons.

Fast forward to today, people go to saunas for various reasons. 

The steam or warmth can relax them after a tiring day at work, making the sauna a place for them to unwind and socialize. 

On the other hand, some people go there because of the health benefits saunas provide. When used properly, saunas may be able to help with blood circulation, improved sleep cycles, pain reduction, detoxification, weight loss and other benefits.

Depending on your reason for using a sauna can help guide you to whether drinking water in a sauna will be good for you or not.

Is It Bad to Drink Water in a Sauna?

There are two schools of thought about drinking water in a sauna. That’s because doing it might not benefit some people, while for others, it may be warranted. 

However, deciding whether to drink water in a sauna may depend on the goal of the session.

Why Some Don’t Drink Water in a Sauna

From a medical perspective, going to the sauna regularly can enhance the way the heart and blood vessels function.

During a session, the humidity and heat improve circulation by increasing your heart rate and expanding your blood vessels. In fact, saunas help reduce mortality caused by cardiovascular illnesses!

On the other hand, some people visit saunas for detoxification through sweat. So, they might not drink water during the session because they believe doing so would counteract the effects of detoxification.

However, this doesn’t mean that people don’t drink water when they visit saunas –it only means that they don’t take additional fluid while they’re in the room. Instead, they drink before and after a session to replenish.  

Ultimately, it’s important to avoid dehydration regardless of the purpose of using a sauna. If feeling dehydrated, it may be necessary to either cut the sauna session short or drink water during the session.

Why Drink Water in a Sauna and Why Others Don’t Mind Doing It

Saunas aren’t only for health-conscious folks. They may also be used by people who wish to relax, warm up, or socialize with others.

They go there to relieve stress brought about by several factors, like responsibilities in their workplace and at home. In that sense, the sauna is more of a hideaway rather than a place to improve their physical health. 

So, without having to think about reaping the health benefits or detox claims, these people wouldn’t mind drinking water while sitting in the room. They’ll take some fluids the moment they feel it’s necessary.

After all, dehydration is just around the corner when you’re in a hot and steamy place. It’s better to get hydrated than run the risk of losing too much fluid.

With that being said, is it okay to drink cold water in a sauna? Let’s find out. 

Drinking Cold Water in Sauna: Is It a Good Idea?

While drinking cold water could help you when exercising, doing it in a sauna might have a different effect.

Drinking cold water even on a hot day (90°F) could make your nerves and brain behave abnormally. It might even cause you to faint and collapse.

Imagine doing that in a sauna with a temperature of between 150°F to 175°F!

That’s why it’s recommended to only drink room temperature water (78°F) when you’re having a session.

Ultimately, the purpose of drinking water in a sauna is to re-hydrate your body. It’s important to listen to your body’s cues –such as dizziness or fatigue– which may require you to end the sauna session rather than trying to re-hydrate during the session.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna to Avoid Getting Too Thirsty?

The amount of time you spend in the sauna without putting yourself in harm’s way depends on the level of experience you have.

If you’re a beginner, it’s important not to put too much physical stress on your body. So, for people starting out, it could be better to use saunas for no more than 10 minutes.

As you progress, you may begin adding more time to your sessions. An additional 5 minutes is a good start.

However, just remember that 20 minutes is around the longest you should stay in the sauna regardless of how much experience you have with saunas.

Why Do You Need to Hydrate After Sauna?

Do you know how much water is lost during a sauna session? 

Harvard Medical School states that around 1 pint of water is lost during the short time you spend in a sauna. That’s around 2 cups of body fluid!

Plus, you could also lose electrolytes such as calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium when you sweat heavily. Of course, your body needs them to prevent complications like nausea, muscle weakness, and throat spasm.

That’s why you need to rehydrate after the steamy sauna session to avoid putting yourself in danger.  

Let’s see how you can do that safely.

How to Hydrate After Sauna

Drinking refreshing beverages would first come to mind when thinking of rehydration.

However, gulping an excessive amount at once could be counterproductive. Additionally, drinking water mindlessly might cause you to urinate often.

Instead, it would be best if you let your body process the fluid slowly by gradually taking small portions at a time. For example, you can begin hydrating by moderately taking half a liter of water, then add some more until you feel relieved.

Beverages to Drink After Sauna

Drinking plain water is okay to hydrate after a sauna session. However, if you want something flavorful, beverages like fresh coconut water, other fruit juices, and vegetable smoothies will fit the bill.

Strawberries, lemons, bananas, and green leafy vegetables are excellent candidates to rehydrate after a sauna session, too.

You might also want to try using electrolyte concentrate. The sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc content in these refreshments could help reduce heat stress and fatigue.

Alternatively, you can consider fruit-flavored electrolyte powder packets that you could mix with water and sports drinks.

Foods to Eat After Sauna

Similarly, eating the right food after sessions could help you rehydrate. For instance, foods like cheese, pretzels, and pickled veggies likewise have electrolyte content that could replenish what your body has lost during the sauna session.

You can also try having a slice of avocado with an egg omelet or baked potatoes and some peanuts to help you regain strength.

Keep in mind that just like drinking beverages after a session, it’s not ideal to munch those snacks incessantly. Instead, eat in small amounts to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Final Takeaway

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to drinking water in a sauna. We learned that it could be good for others, while some people might see it as a hiccup along the way to their intended goal.

In an effort to boost the sweating effect, some folks find it better to avoid drinking while in the room. On the other hand, if what you’re after is just to relax and unwind, drinking water wouldn’t play a role in what you want to achieve.

Either way, we’ve also seen the importance of getting hydrated after a sauna session to prevent complications that might put your well-being at risk.

So, if heat and humidity make you uncomfortable, regardless of the intended goal, put your safety first and step out of the room to rehydrate gradually!

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