If you’ve ever spent time in a public sauna before, you’ll know that it can be quite an interesting experience. For many people, the idea alone of sitting naked in a hot room full of strangers is a nudge outside of their comfort zone, but people keep coming back for the renowned health benefits.
The thing is, while the sauna environment has so many health benefits to offer, you’ll only get the best of them if you do all the right things - and avoid a few of the wrong things. With that in mind, here are five things you should never do in a sauna.
Enjoying your favourite alcoholic beverage into your custom-built sauna room might sound luxurious, but unless a hangover is your idea of luxury, you’ll be better off sticking to water.
Alcohol is a bad idea in the sauna because the heat in that environment exacerbates symptoms of alcohol consumption, speeding up the process of intoxication and making you more prone to dehydration. This also makes it harder for your body to maintain normal blood pressure and increases your chances of developing a health condition like cardiac arrhythmia.
And just in case all of these negative consequences don’t quite turn you off the idea of drinking in the sauna, that first sip of hot beer will do the trick.
Just as alcohol can have some pretty nasty consequences inside the sauna, so can drugs. In fact, the combination of high heat and intense sweating can affect almost any medication you’re taking and change the way your body interacts with it.
Thanks to the way the body stores alcohol in fat cells, this may be true for you even if you haven’t taken drugs in some time. When the heat in the sauna opens up these cells, the drug residue is released, unleashing the effects of past drug use.
While this is not ideal, saunas have also been known to speed up the process of detox in recovering drug addicts, helping them to sweat drugs out of their system more quickly.
Stay longer than 10 minutes
When it comes to the sauna, you can definitely have too much of a good thing - and depending on your body weight and level of sauna experience, that overflow can happen in as little as 10 minutes.
Since the sauna causes rapid water loss through sweat, long stays may bring about symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke as your body loses water. These results are particularly common amongst new users.
If you are an experienced sauna user, you may be able to increase the length of your sessions, but you should always be mindful of the effects before, during, and after your session.
Use a mobile phone
You might feel tempted to find something to distract yourself during your sauna time, but your mobile phone is the last thing you want to bring into the steam room. Even if the device doesn’t explode (and yes, that can happen!) the high heat and humidity could cause serious damage.
Instead, if you feel like you need a distraction, use your sauna time to enjoy the mental health benefits of deep breathing or meditation. This way, the health benefits of the experience will go beyond the physical, and you’ll come out of the room feeling even more refreshed and relaxed.
Wear the wrong clothes
Contrary to popular opinion, there is a right and wrong way to dress when going into the sauna - and it has nothing to do with fashion sense. The most important fashion rule to follow is to steer clear of anything metallic, as these objects will heat up fast and burn your skin.
You should also be wary of anything made from PVC or similar plastic-based materials, as these have been known to melt onto skin in sauna rooms. Swimsuits and gym clothing are prime suspects here, so if you’re planning on indulging in a post-workout sauna session, make sure to bring a change of clothes.
If you’re ever in doubt over what to wear in the heat, go for loose-fitting cotton clothing. This way, there will be no melting or burning, and you’ll come out of the heat otherwise unscathed.
Spending time in the sauna can be a fantastic way to wind down after a hard gym workout or a stressful day at work, but just like all other health kicks, it only works in your favour if you keep safety at the front of your mind. As long as you can avoid doing any of these things, you’ll be able to enjoy the heat and the physical benefits of using the sauna for many years to come.