6 Blisteringly Good Paleo Reasons to Get Hot, Sweaty and Naked

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SweatI have a sauna in my home.

When I say that, most people think I live in a palace, have a ton of land, marbled floors and a beautiful view. And while it is true I do have a beautiful view, otherwise I have a regular (and rather scruffy) house.

The fact is my sauna is in the garage. It came as a flatpack 5 years ago, took my husband and I two hours to assemble and has been used on an almost daily basis ever since.

I estimate each sweat session has cost us around 75 cents plus a few for electricity. It doesn’t owe us a thing.

The reported benefits of having a sauna are many but I can’t find too much research to back them up. Much of the appeal of a sauna is based on experience and faith – the does-it-feel-good factor – rather than hard science. And when the cost of owning your own is significant and the scientific research sparse, the question becomes, should you get one?

Based on my experience, I would unequivocably say ‘Yes!

First, why you should sauna:

Reason #1: The greatest sleep on earth. Don’t plan on any wrestling with your partner under the sheets after a late night sauna – you’ll be sorely disappointed. You won’t stay awake through the first round. If a partner isn’t available or otherwise busy or you’re only interested in a good night’s sleep courtesy of your own efforts know that the sleep you get after a late-night sauna is the sleep of the dead. Nothing comes close. 😉

Reason #2: Enormous stress relief and psychological wellbeing. I have no hard evidence other than the results of my own n=1 experiments (and that didn’t seem to slow down Tim Ferriss, any) but having a sauna calms. me. down. My mind stops whirring, I get out of my head and start focusing on my body and in the 21st century we all could do with more of that to gain some balance.

Here it is, my favorite place besides my bed and the bath. In my garage. –>

Reason #3: Detoxification. Back in 2007, I was recommended to sauna by a doctor who was treating me with anti-virals for chronic Epstein Barr virus – the idea being that I would flush the toxic waste resulting from that therapy out through my skin in my sweat. I can’t say with certainty that this actually happens (although I did once collect drips of sweat in a bottle – don’t ask – and it did look cloudy and slightly dirty) but I take it on trust that it does enhance our body’s detoxification efforts.  As Marks Daily Apple says, “If you’re eating an otherwise healthy Primal diet, detox is naturally taken care of via urination, defecation, sweating, and exhalation.

Reason #4: Increased and enhanced body processes. This is particularly so if you have a low basal body temperature and accompanying symptoms like I did. Thirty minutes total in the sauna raises my temperature so that I am more active, happy, with improved digestion (that’s a euphemism for having a poo. ;-))  Your temperature will likely drop again after a few hours but if you are having a bad day and especially if having a low BBT is a chronic problem, the boost a sauna gives you is a welcome shot in the arm.

Reason #5: Increased immune system effects. Fighting EBV was the impetus for installing my sauna but it has been recorded that sauna’s are particularly useful for the treatment of colds.

Reason #6: Pain relief for joints and muscles. If I point an ache at the lamps, I will get several hours of welcome relief.

Second, why you should own your own sauna:

A sauna will use up a decent chunk of change, I’ll admit. I couldn’t afford it either when we bought ours but I’m so glad we found the money from somewhere. I’d tried saunas in gyms and lodges but simply loathed them. If you’re like me, know that owning your own personal sauna is nothing like that. There are a ton of reasons why owning your own sauna is incomparable to using one at a facility like a gym.

  • It’s never full.
  • You don’t have to drive anywhere.
  • When you’re cold you can go in there to warm up.
  • You are in total control of your time, your temperature.
  • You don’t get sprayed or wiped with strangers people’s body fluids.
  • You don’t feel like a fool if you can’t bear the heat and have to get out before your time is up or, the ultimate in being a wuss, open the door.
  • A sauna eases the morning transition. It’s not hard to get up in the dark and cold if you’re going to roll from a warm, cosy bed to a warm, cosy sauna.
  • You don’t have to avoid eye-contact with anyone. (Sauna-ing with strangers can feel like the longest elevator ride you’ve ever taken. With knobs on.)
  • You can enjoy the ritual and daily routine of it and much like others meditate (and if you’re like me that’s something you’ve never been able to do,) instead you can sauna.
  • If you have children, you can go in there to get away from them. I’ve held conference calls in my sauna and at 12, my kids aren’t at all interested in coming to find me if they know I’m in there. Naked. 🙂
  • You don’t have to put up with the, um, unhygienic nature (another euphemism) of some sauna-lovers.
  • You can use it as often as you like and at any time that is convenient to you.
  • The cost per sauna is cheap if you use it regularly.
  • You don’t have to climb over anyone.
  • You can, and should, go in naked.

What type of sauna?

Some people get snobbish about the authenticity of different types of sauna, the length of time you should be in there and the degree of heat that counts. I say forget all that. Mine is not a ‘wet’ sauna – I find those unbearable. The temperature is fully controlled by me via the digital thermostat or the low-tech alternative – opening the door. We have never had a wiring issue nor has it caused a house fire as some have reported, and it has a radio and disk player which I consider to be a good thing although I prefer silence.

The one we have is a far infrared sauna and we have added three more near infrared lamps for added benefit. It’s billed as a 2-person model but I think housing two people in it is a bit of a huge reach. While being cosy and personal is usually rather pleasurable, in a sauna it is quite unpleasant, IMO. This sauna is roomy for one. While the two-person-but-really-for-one-model is perfectly fine, if I had my time over, I’d buy one of these lovelies or even better, one of these because the idea of being able to lie down in the sauna is just…awesome. Sigh.

How I do it

I sauna several times per week, sweating for twenty minutes, often in the early morning. I go in, turn it on and don’t start counting my time until a bead of sweat drips somewhere on my body. I have my large water bottle with me and usually drink most of the 74 ounces which sets up my hydration for the day perfectly. Sometimes I file my nails, occasionally I read a book although I have to stop when I’m sweating so much the print comes off on my fingers but usually I stare at the wall and daydream.  Sauna’s can do that to a girl. 🙂

What you will need: timer, tissues (saunas make your nose run,) any implements you need to occupy yourself before the heat renders you as limp as your tissues.

The real measures of a good sauna are: does it make you drip with sweat and does it make you feel good – psychologically and physiologically? If it does, have at it and make it a paleo habit. After all, paleolithic man didn’t do saunas quite like we do but he may have had sweat lodges or built up heat in an enclosed space for the benefits. We can do the same in our modern-day fashion because, let’s face it, we aren’t caveman re-enactors, are we? Are we? 🙂

Are you a sauna fan? As a hobby or for health? How do you like it? Tell us in the comments? If you liked this article, please do me a favor and share on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Google +. There are buttons in the floating sidebar to your left and also below.

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Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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