Insomnia after sauna and its possible causes

Sleepless after the sauna - a problem familiar to many. The causes are manifold. With these tips, insomnia will soon come to an end.
Why do I have trouble falling asleep after a sauna?

Why do I have trouble falling asleep after a sauna session?

Sleepless after sauna and its possible causes. “Such a nice sauna day and then I couldn’t sleep half the night”. Does such a statement sound familiar to you? Are you also often sleepless after visiting the sauna? Then this article is something for you. We get to the bottom of questions like: Where do sleep problems come from after taking a sauna? What are the other possible causes of sleep problems?

Sleep disorders take over

Sleeping is an immensely important part of our lives. Anyone who is 80 years old will have spent an average of 24 years sleeping, if they are lucky. Because, unfortunately, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common. According to a survey, around 80 percent of all employees in Germany suffer from sleep disorders. That means they either have trouble falling asleep or can’t sleep through the night. In many cases, both.

Others may not have problems falling asleep, but many still feel tired and listless during the day. As a result, productivity suffers and enjoyment of life wanes. Can it be due to sauna bathing if we don’t get any rest? What causes the restlessness that some people feel after taking a sauna?

Sleepless after sauna bath

In the sauna, we come to rest. One might think that the warmth should be conducive to sleep. And in principle it is. Many regular sauna users feel particularly well rested the next morning. The thanks for this goes to the parasympathetic nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system. Its counterpart is the sympathetic nervous system. When we cool down after a sauna, this predominates.

This is because the body releases stress hormones in response to the cooling measures. These cause us to feel refreshed, stimulated and awake. More than an hour passes before the parasympathetic nervous system takes over again. During this period, we find it difficult to fall asleep.

Sauna beginners do not belong in the sauna in the evening

Sauna beginners in particular often find it difficult to cope with the extreme temperature differences in the sauna. The biorhythm must first get used to the change. A first immediate measure for insomnia after a sauna session would therefore be: do not take a sauna too late in the evening. Give your nervous system time to adjust to the coming sleep phase before going to bed. If your own biorhythm is upset by the sweat bath, simply go sauna bathing in the morning. In this way, you minimize the effects on your sleep rhythm.

Ambient noise has many facets

However, insomnia may also be caused by completely different factors. For example, environmental noise. It could be your partner snoring, or noise from the street. Or disturbing light, keyword electronic devices. Cell phones and the like have no place in the bedroom. Blue light has an extremely disruptive effect on sleep. It inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. If you can’t do without your beloved smartphone, you should at least use a blue light filter.

Sleeping pills only a short-term solution

People suffering from chronic pain often wake up umpteen times a night. Restful deep sleep is thus hardly possible. As a result, some resort to sleeping pills. But there’s a problem … sleeping pills are only a short-term solution. Drugs can really mess up your sleep. In the short term, they may bring relief. But they are not suitable as a longer-term solution. Many sleeping pills are addictive.

Speaking of addiction – it goes without saying that taking drugs has a detrimental effect on sleep. But what about alcohol? The popular belief is that alcohol intake helps you fall asleep faster. Yet, sleep quality has been shown to be worse after alcohol ingestion than without, especially in the second half of the night. There are two main reasons for this: First, alcohol disrupts the restorative deep sleep that follows the dreaming phase. If deep sleep fails to occur, we feel as if we have been wiped out the next morning. Second, alcohol intake increases the urge to urinate. This causes us to wake up more often at night.

How nicotine & co. disrupt sleep

Smoking can make you sleepless. Many smokers do not feel properly rested, even after a sufficiently long night. The reason may be that nicotine – like alcohol – shortens the deep sleep phases. In addition, nicotine has a stimulating effect and delays the phase of falling asleep. The same applies to caffeine. It activates the body and has a stimulating effect. This comes in handy in the morning, but not so much in the evening. Under the influence of caffeine, our nerves are highly active and we can’t get tired. Caffeine blocks adenosine, which makes us tired in the evening. Therefore, it is better to avoid coffee in the evening. Only after ten hours, the body has broken down the caffeine. By the way, black tea and green tea also contain caffeine!

Avoid heavy or spicy food in the evening

Another cause of sleep problems is unfavorable eating habits. On sauna days, pay special attention to what you fill your stomach with and when. It is well known that heavy meals in the evening can be to blame for insomnia. But did you know that spicy foods also have a detrimental effect on sleep quality? Hot spices increase our body temperature. They make us sleep restlessly. It is therefore better not to consume any spicy foods four to five hours before bedtime.

Worries rob us of sleep

Another cause of insomnia: many people start to brood at night and lie awake half the night. Others find their way to sleep, but are plagued by nightmares. Rest looks different. What helps against agonizing anxiety: put down a sheet of paper and pen next to the bed and write down the tormenting thoughts. Problems are rarely so urgent that they can’t wait until the next morning. A notebook is a good place to keep them for now.

Sleep rituals are calming stimuli

Rituals also help against stress. Let your body know that it is now time to go to bed. Always go to bed at the same time. Come to rest by reading something or listening to relaxing music, for example. Actively try to wind down from the stress of the day. Relaxation techniques can help. For example, deep slow breathing into your stomach slows your pulse. Whatever bedtime ritual you choose, the body will remember it. After a few weeks, it will automatically switch to sleep mode.

Sometimes just a little bit of serenity helps, too. If you can’t fall asleep immediately after the sauna, take your time. Very few people can do it on the spot. Often, even small changes in behavior can significantly improve the quality of sleep. The organism can adjust. Regular sauna users cause the body to release serotonin. The happiness hormone causes relaxation. Then it should also work with the healthy night sleep.


Other valuable tips for restful sleep
Tip 1

If possible, sleep in complete darkness or use a sleep mask. Even the smallest light in the bedroom can disrupt the production of melatonin and serotonin in the pineal gland. Even the small light from clock radios or the incoming lantern light or moonlight from your bedroom window can affect your sleep. Cover your clock radio and additionally you can equip the windows with blackout blinds.

Tip 2

Many people keep their bedrooms far too warm. An optimal room temperature for bedrooms is between 16-18 °C – both in summer and winter. Studies have shown that if the room temperature is too cool or too warm, this can lead to restless sleep. In the height of summer, you can lower the room temperature with air conditioning before going to bed.

Tip 3

Ban all electrical appliances from your bedroom. Electromagnetic fields can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin. To detect electromagnetic fields, you need a Gauss meter.

Tip 4

Loud or ticking alarm clocks also do not belong in the bedroom. If these devices must be used, keep them at least three feet away from the bed. There is an alternative to the annoying and loud alarm clock available in stores. For years I have been using a sun alarm clock. This has all the features of a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM radio, beeper, snooze button, etc.). But the best part is, it simulates the sunrise. As the light gradually increases in intensity.

Tip 5

If your partner sleeps restlessly or even snores and constantly disturbs your sleep, then you should think about a separate bedroom. If this is not possible, a snore stopper can also help.

Tip 6

If you have poor circulation and your feet are always cold, you can also reduce waking up by putting on warm socks. Alternatively, you can place a hot water bottle near your feet at night.


Melanie Sommer