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

Increase the feeling of happiness with a sauna bath

Not surprisingly, the benefit most often cited by sauna-goers 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 circulation and the release of endorphins. These hormones are released when you sweat and ensure that you really “feel good” after a sauna session.

Sauna effects on the body

When exposed to heat, 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. When the temperature is high, the body switches to protecting the internal organs by increasing blood flow to the skin. The activation of the sweat glands support 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 may double. In the sauna, breathing becomes shallower and faster, indicating more efficient lung ventilation and providing additional heat dissipation.

Adrenaline increase with a cold water bath

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 an increase in cortisol (“adrenaline”) levels. This elevates mood, increases alertness and reduces the sensation of pain. Surprisingly, a sauna session followed by a cold water bath increases this adrenaline response even more.

Pain relief through cold water application

After a sauna session, it is common to cool down with cold water. This causes the blood vessels in the skin to contract rapidly, resulting in 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 after cooling down is enhanced. Several studies have shown that blood flow increases as you cool down, and muscle damage or pain subsides more quickly. For people suffering 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 visit to the sauna can contribute to 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 that sauna-goers around the world report are a result of relaxing sauna bathing.

Conclusion

To protect itself from heat stress, the body undergoes a series of physiological changes when taking a sauna. Some of these adaptations may produce health-promoting properties. Improved cardiac, respiratory, muscular and immune functions are among the most important features for which improved performance has been demonstrated. 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 a cold bath following a sauna session.

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