People in the UK search ‘sauna hangover’ on Google on average 60 times a month scouring the internet for a magical all-cure. The Finns, originators of the sauna, swear by a sweat session after a night of heavy drinking but does it really work? We put our burning questions to Damon Culbert from UK Saunas…
What are the risks?
Difficulty managing blood pressure
Drinking alcohol attacks your central nervous system and raises your blood alcohol level. The toxins in your body remain the next day and can affect the way your heart works which could make sauna use difficult. Many people on a hangover experience cardiac arrhythmia where the heart beats irregularly. This coupled with the blood pressure raising experience of a sauna can be dangerous. For this reason, those who experience an irregular heartbeat when hungover are advised to stay out of the sauna. However, more generally, regular sauna users are actually at a reduced risk of cardiac issues such as coronary artery disease, according to a study by the University of Eastern Finland.
More susceptible to fainting
In the same way, when hungover you’re more susceptible to fainting due to an arrhythmic heartbeat and higher levels of dehydration. As with any sauna trip, only stay in as long as you can handle. While the highest level of benefit is reached after roughly half an hour in a sauna, limiting your stay to 10-15 minutes when hungover will be much better for your heath than pushing it too far.
Ethanol is a diuretic, meaning that after a few drinks your body starts urinating without actually getting rid of any of the other toxins in alcohol. One of the main issues when hungover is dehydration, which often linked to the headaches, dizziness and nausea. Because saunas encourage sweating, the body loses even more water which could just make symptoms worse. The best time to sauna on a hangover is later in the day, allowing time to rehydrate the body. Drinking water throughout and after the session is also a must.
What are the benefits?
Powerful detoxification potential
For those who are up to it, the detoxifying effects of a sauna session can work wonders for removing all the poisons you filled your body with the night before. For those unable to handle long sauna sessions, multiple shorter sessions can also be effective with detoxification in conjunction with continued rehydration.
The European Journal of Epidemiology found that sauna bathing could reduce the risk of respiratory diseases. This suggests that saunas promote a deep breathing cycle which could help to calm the body on a hangover and, when coupled with more rest, can be highly effective at offsetting the issues cause by poor REM (rapid eye movement) sleep after drinking.
Just as effective as exercise
Additionally, there are studies that show that sauna sessions provide cardiovascular exercise. Exercise appears in almost every list of hangover cures around as a way to regulate the heart rate, produce endorphins and sweat out toxins. Safe sauna use can have these same effects with much less effort – perfect for those who struggle to get out of bed the morning after.
In summary, although you always need to take care of the risks of sauna use on a hangover, safely accessing the variety of benefits saunas provide can help combat the trauma of a heavy night of drinking and get you feeling back to normal.
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