There are mixed opinions on the use of sauna as a hangover remedy. Some say the best way to heal is to detox by sweating it out. Others advise against it based on sauna causing dehydration. A 1988 Finnish study found that the hangover phase exposes a person to cardiac arrhythmias.
In my opinion, its not a question of “if” but rather “when?” When using sauna to cure a hangover, timing is everything.
First let’s define a hangover. Symptoms of the run-of-the-mill hangover from a bout of binge drinking generally include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst. In addition to the physical symptoms, a hangover may also induce psychological symptoms including heightened feelings of depression and anxiety.
Binge drinking is defined as 3 drinks or more for a woman and 5 drinks or more for a man. The full spectrum of hangover effects last longer than you might expect. Cognitive deficits can be measured for up to 2.3 days after a bout of binge drinking. That means if you binge drink on Saturday night, you will be stupider until Tuesday.
Now, let’s remember that sauna is a form of exercise. See Sweat Therapy Theory. Yes sauna causes relaxation and stress relief but don’t forget, its goddamn 180° F in there! The moment you close that sauna door, your sympathetic nervous system starts mobilizing. A good rule of thumb is that if you are feeling so bad that you are unable to exercise, then don’t go in a sauna. In fact, a good protocol to follow to cure a hangover is to first hit the gym and then sauna. I would advise against sauna soon after waking hungover. Instead, start with other remedies like water, food, and aspirin. Plan on using the sauna in the late afternoon or evening.
There are many therapeutic features of sauna that help cure a hangover. The quiet serene setting, dimmed lighting, and mellow music can be powerful medicine. Sauna can also help you hydrate. If I lose a quart of sweat in the sauna, I drink about two quarts of water during the experience. Additionally, Sauna stimulates food intake, relieves anxiety and depression, and promotes deeper sleep – a powerful anti-hangover activity.
If used thoughtfully, sauna can be a great antidote to the hangover blues.