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Can Sauna Cure a Hangover?

light steam graphic

Every Body is Different

For some, the best hangover cure or remedy may be going for a run or vigorous exercise. For others, laying in bed is enough work. What’s great about trying sauna to cure a hangover is that your body will tell you soon enough if it’s right for you. For best results:

  1. Bring 32 oz. of water with you to sauna. Take a generous swig every minute or so. We all know that hangovers are caused by dehydration. It is important to restore fluids to the body. Yet big gulps can disturb an already disturbed stomach.
  2. Be a low bench Larry. For curing a hangover, try spreading out along the lower bench where heat is less intense and potentially more humid. Let the upper sauna bench be reserved for more rigorous sauna sessions.
  3. Introduce water to sauna rocks. Löyly, the steam created when tossing water on sauna rocks, is a critical part of a good sauna session. When trying to get rid of a hangover, tossing a few ounces of water on the sauna rocks will help. The steam will collect on the skin, encouraging sweat. Sweat rids toxins from the body. Also, with slow, steady deeper breathing, the warm wet air will help encourage good oxygen into the lungs and through the body.
  4. Cool down completely before warming back up. When you feel you need to take a break, exit the hot room and give yourself the clean rinse. Ice cold water may be too much of a shock when taking a sauna with a hangover, yet a cold plunge may just be what the doctor ordered. Cold water helps flush pores. It stimulates blood flow. It begins the process of helping the body cool down.

Do not re-enter the hot room too soon. It is critically important that one’s body is completely cooled back down before reheating. Though it may be hard to focus with a hangover, try to listen to your body core, not your skin. Try some light stretching or just sit calmly between sauna rounds, and continue intermittently sipping cool water.

Music

Here are a few reader’s suggestions, as good for hangover saunas as with any sauna session:

  1. Toumani Diabati – New Ancient Strings.
  2. Ben Travada King – Dessert Dreams.
  3. Nick Drake – Pink Moon.

Food

Recovering from a hangover is no different than recovering from a flu. After sauna, introduce food moderately. BRAT foods: Bananas, Applesauce, Rice, Toast.

As always, listen to your body. If you feel queasy or dizzy, ease up. A hangover sucks, but a good sauna session may be just what the doctor ordered. For those that swear by the “hair of the dog” we highly suggest a Bloody Mary in a nICE mug.

When to Use a Sauna to Cure a Hangover

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, it’s not a question of “if” but rather “when?” When using sauna to cure a hangover, timing is everything.

Definition of a Hangover

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.

Sweat Therapy

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 up 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.

Gwyneth Paltrow Shares Her Hangover Cure that Includes Sauna

5/10/2011

Lots of famous people dig sauna. Johnny Depp finds creative inspiration in sauna, Letterman’s Paul Shaffer, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and we sure appreciate Gwyneth Paltrow’s hangover tip:

‘I have a great hangover cure. I take a cold shower in the morning and then I go into the sauna and drink a lot of water throughout the day. Green tea also helps!’

Ms. Paltrow has discovered the rubber band theory of sauna therapy. We commiserate with her and husband Chris Martin chilling between rounds after a tough night of one too many Guinness’ or demo listens of a new Coldplay track.

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2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Can Sauna Cure a Hangover?”

  1. I’ve had great results sitting on the upper bench for 10 minutes or so, tossing water on the rocks, and guzzling 32 oz. of water, 3-4 oz. at a time to avoid getting too queazy. The trick is to help the body sweat it out.

    Then i’m ready for a long cool down, and another round, or if not, i’m ready for a nap.

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