When the endorphins dance – A sauna session that makes you happy

For centuries, numerous cultures have used heat for their bathing rituals. Finland is known for its sauna culture, where temperatures are often between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius. When people go to the sauna, one of the most typical reactions is that they just feel better. As it turns out, there are some measurable scientific reasons for this phenomenon.
Increase the feeling of happiness with a sauna bath

What are the health benefits of going to the sauna?

Unsurprisingly, the benefit most often cited by sauna users is stress relief. Numerous medical studies show that the stress we are exposed to on a daily basis is detrimental to our health. In fact, stress is involved in the development of almost all diseases (including heart disease). A hot sauna session reduces stress in many ways. The sauna is a cozy sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The benefits of a sauna visit include relaxation, improved blood circulation and the release of endorphins. These hormones are released during sweating and ensure that you really “feel good” after a sauna session.

How does the body react to the heat in the sauna to prevent damage?

When exposed to heat, the human physiology changes as a means of self-preservation to prevent harm. When the body first comes into contact with the heat of the sauna, the temperature of the skin rises. At high temperatures, the body switches to protecting the skin to protect the internal organs by increasing the blood flow to the skin. The activation of the sweat glands supports the process of evaporation and subsequent cooling.

Improved lung ventilation through sauna bathing

To maintain blood pressure inside the body, the heart rate must increase along with the increase in blood volume in the periphery and skin. Although the overall work of the heart does not change significantly, the pulse rate can double. In the sauna, breathing becomes shallower and faster, indicating more efficient lung ventilation and allowing additional heat dissipation.

Why does a rising body temperature trigger a “flight or fight” response?

When body temperature rises, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and triggers a “flight or fight” response. Stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain, which communicate with the adrenal glands near the kidneys, causes cortisol (“adrenaline”) levels to rise. This lifts the mood, increases alertness and reduces the sensation of pain. Surprisingly, a sauna session followed by a cold water bath increases this adrenaline reaction even further.

Why do you cool down with cold water after a sauna session?

After a sauna session, it is common to cool down with cold water. This causes the blood vessels in the skin to contract quickly, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. In addition, the sympathetic nervous system is strongly stimulated, which is indicated by a rapid increase in adrenaline, heart rate and endorphins after the sauna session. As a result, the feeling of elation and well-being is increased after cooling down. Several studies have shown that blood circulation increases when cooling down and that muscle damage or pain subsides more quickly. For people who suffer from inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, it can be beneficial to cool down with cold water after a sauna session.

Sauna sessions ensure a restful sleep

According to research, a sauna session can contribute to a deeper and more restful sleep. This gradual, calming drop in endorphin levels is crucial for promoting sleep. According to numerous reports, the deep sleep experiences reported by sauna users around the world are a result of relaxing sauna bathing.


To protect itself from heat stress, the body undergoes a series of physiological changes during sauna bathing. Some of these adaptations can have health-promoting properties. Improved cardiac, respiratory, muscular and immune functions are among the key features that have been shown to improve performance. Many of the psychological benefits of sauna bathing are related to improved sleep, happiness and pain tolerance, among others. Some of these benefits can be enhanced by taking a cold bath after a sauna session.


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