Can I drink alcohol before, during, or after the sauna?
Unequivocally, stepping into a sauna can be a profound experience of relaxation and revival. However, some folks are curious about weaving in the ritual of a wine, whiskey, or any other alcoholic beverage before, during, or after this balmy refuge. But the question remains - does it strike a blow to your health or safety meter? To quench this curiosity with a splash of science, let’s navigate through this carefully.
Simply put, no. In fact, to be more clear: absolutely not! It’s not safe to savor alcohol while basking in the heat of a sauna. The reasoning behind such advice largely hinges upon this key fact - both sauna and alcohol share a notorious trait, being diuretic (which means it promotes water loss). This trait triggers excessive fluid loss which can result in acute dehydration. According to a study cited by the American Heart Association, this rapid depletion of fluids through drinking alcohol before, during or after your sauna might predispose sauna bathers to an alarming plunge in blood pressure, leading potentially to a fainting spell or other health mishaps.
Moreover, alcohol meddles with your body's critical task of temperature regulation, mainly when you're soaking in a high-heat cocoon like a sauna. And let's not forget, alcohol could also faint the lines of your judgment, transforming a soothing spa-like activity into a potential danger zone.
Popping open the bottle before sauna: a good idea?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the answer, once again, leans towards a stern 'no.' Tippling before your sauna session can heighten the chances of dehydration and cardiac complications. A study by Tchoukarine and team in 2012 cast a spotlight on how a closely knit link exists between pre-sauna alcohol consumption and an escalated likelihood of heart health events. This rise is primarily accredited to amplified dryness and enhanced blood movement due to alcohol and the sauna's combined diuretic properties.
Perks of a post-sauna pint?
Just stepping out of the sauna throws your body into a much-needed recovery timeline, and introducing alcohol at this moment can be an unwanted speed bump. Again, because alcohol is a diuretic, it can amplify the post-sauna dryness and dehydration, resulting in discomfort feelings - think headache, fatigue, and an accelerated pulse.
That said, moderation seems to be the key. Researchers have suggested that a modest amount of alcohol might be less harmful once your body has taken a chill pill and you've had plenty of water to rehydrate. Plentiful hydration and possibly taking in some electrolytes should always be the first pit-stop post-sauna though.
The bottom line on sauna and alcohol combination
Let’s not mince words.
- Alcohol before the sauna: ❌ Definitely NOT.
- Alcohol during the sauna: 🛑 NEVER!
- Alcohol after the sauna: ⚠️ In moderation and only after you’ve properly hydrated.
The dehydration, impaired body temperature regulation, and the possible cardiovascular health impact play spoilsport. Solid scientific opinion stands tall advising not to mingle these two.
A sauna is a haven for reaping numerous health benefits - don’t mess it up with adding alcohol into the mix. Make smart choices, and remember, staying properly hydrated, keeping a level head, and prioritizing your safety is far more rewarding.
 'Alcohol impairs thermoregulation and aggravates hypohydration during physical exercise in the heat' by Hoshi and Nose, 2005
 'Alcohol Risks Associated With Heavy Drinking in Public Places: A Population-Based Study' by Tchoukarine et al., 2012
 'Alcohol and its cardiovascular effects' by Saitz, 2011