Sauna Before Bed: How Sauna Therapy Improves Sleep Quality
Nov 21, 2023
Getting adequate sleep is vital for both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, a significant portion of adults deal with disrupted sleep and insomnia. Using a sauna as part of your pre-bedtime wind-down routine offers science-backed benefits that can improve your sleep quality, duration, and restoration.
How using a Sauna Before Bed Promotes Healthy Sleep
Enjoying a home sauna session before bed can facilitate healthy, restorative sleep through:
- Muscle Relaxation - The penetrating heat releases accumulated tension in muscles and joints, allowing your body to fully relax before bed.
- Body Temperature Regulation - After raising your core temperature in the hot sauna, the rapid cooling that follows signals your brain it's time for sleep and kicks off production of melatonin.
- Circadian Rhythm Synchronization - This heat therapy synchronizes your body clock, helping you fall asleep faster, reach deeper non-REM and REM sleep stages, and wake less throughout the night.
- Mood Enhancement - The heat boosts circulation and triggers release of euphoric endorphins which relieve stress and induce the relaxation response essential for restful sleep.
How Saunas Help You Cool Down
It's commonly known that allowing your core body temperature to drop signals it's time for sleep. That's why some people use cooling mattresses or pillows at night to accelerate heat loss. However, you can achieve a similar cooling effect by using a sauna as part of your pre-bedtime wind down routine.
Spending time in the intense dry heat causes increased blood flow to the skin and extremities in an effort to release heat. After exiting the sauna, blood remains concentrated close to the surface, away from your core. This allows you to cool down rapidly as heat dissipates from the skin.
Additionally, the hot and cold oscillation during and after the sauna session triggers the hypothalamus region of your brain. This is the body's thermostat regulating center. The hypothalamus helps synchronize your circadian rhythm when it detects the deliberate rise and fall in temperature.
As your body temp drops post-sauna at bedtime, the hypothalamus is stimulated to produce sleep-inducing melatonin and lower cortisol. This biohacking heating and cooling process can help those who have difficulty falling asleep at night naturally transition into deeper stages of sleep quicker and wake less throughout the night.
Added Benefits for Chronic Fatigue
Those living with chronic fatigue syndrome often deal with insomnia on top of persistent exhaustion. Sauna use before bed provides added symptomatic relief by:
- Alleviating overall fatigue through improved blood flow and oxygenation
- Elevating mood by triggering feel-good endorphins
- Reducing sleep disruptions through muscle relaxation and body temperature regulation
Start with shorter 10-15 minute sessions then gradually increase time in the sauna as tolerated. Stay hydrated and cool down slowly after heat therapy.
Best Practices for Pre-Bed Sauna Use
- Time It Right - Use the sauna 1-2 hours before bed to ensure your core body temp drops at just the right time to transition into sleep.
- Avoid Drinking Water Before Bed Although it's essential to maintain hydrated after using a sauna, consuming too much fluid before bed can lead to disruptive nighttime bathroom visits.
- Limit Alcohol Intake - Stop drinking 2+ hours before bed since alcohol reduces time spent in restorative deep sleep stages. If you can, avoid alcohol altogether.
Added Stress and Pain Relief
Along with better sleep, sauna sessions provide natural relief from:
- Muscle Soreness and Joint Pain - The dry heat increases circulation, delivering nutrients for tissue repair while triggering release of soothing endorphins.
- Daily Life Stresses - The warmth and solitude offer the perfect setting to mentally detach from responsibilities and focus on self-care.
- Toxin Buildup - Sweating profusely releases accumulated toxins which contribute to systemic inflammation, pain, and fatigue.
Safety First When Using Saunas
While a routine of sauna bathing offers extensive benefits, heat therapy may be risky for those dealing with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications. To use your sauna safely:
- Consult your doctor before starting heat therapy
- Stay hydrated and listen closely to bodily cues
- Set the sauna at a comfortable temperature
- Sit on a towel and keep the environment clean
Paying attention to precautions allows you to unwind safely before bed and wake well-rested. Incorporate this ancient healing practice into your lifestyle for better sleep.