Andrew Huberman’s protocol for sauna and deliberate heat exposure

Tom Mansfield
Andrew Huberman’s protocol for sauna and deliberate heat exposure

Heat therapy in the form of regular sauna is a powerful tool for enhancing your health and well-being. However, like any tool, it should be used wisely and cautiously. In this field guide, we'll utilize neuroscientist Andrew Huberman's sauna protocols to help you maximize the benefits to your health and wellbeing.

Sauna Safety: A Prerequisite

Before we dive into the protocols and benefits of using a sauna, it's crucial to establish some ground rules. Pregnant women and children under 16 should avoid saunas altogether. For others, start with cooler temperatures that won't significantly elevate your heart rate. Beware of hyperthermia and dehydration, and always exercise caution. For men looking to conceive, be aware that excessive heat exposure can temporarily reduce sperm count, but this usually bounces back after a 45-60 day hiatus.

  1. Cardiovascular Health

Saunas can be a game-changer for your cardiovascular health. Research shows that regular sauna sessions can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including strokes. It's a bit like a workout for your heart. In the sauna, your heart rate increases, blood flow surges, and blood vessels expand to cool your body down, leading to improved cardiovascular function.

Andrew Huberman’s Protocol #1: Sauna for Cardiovascular Health

  • Temperature: Aim for 80-100°C (176-212°F), but adjust based on your tolerance.
  • Duration: Spend 5-20 minutes per session.
  • Frequency: Hit the sauna 2-3 times a week, or even up to 7 times for maximum cardiovascular benefits.
  1. Improved Mood

Saunas have been proven to have a significant and lasting mood-boosting effect. Heat exposure triggers the release of dynorphins and endorphins, resulting in a mild euphoria after a sauna session and sustained elevated mood during the day.

  1. Improved Stress Response & Overall Health

Saunas introduce mild stress to your body, a phenomenon known as hormesis. This stress stimulates various mechanisms, such as reducing cortisol levels and activating DNA repair pathways. Additionally, heat-dependent molecular mechanisms called Heat Shock Proteins help maintain protein structures within cells, crucial for overall health. All of the above is beneficial for your stress levels and overall health.

Protocol #2: Sauna for General Health

  • Weekly Time: Aim for a total of 1 hour, split into 2-3 sessions.
  • Temperature: Maintain 80-100°C (176-212°F).
  1. Growth Hormone

Growth Hormone is essential for muscle growth, bone strength, tissue repair, and metabolism. Aging leads to a natural decline in Growth Hormone, but sauna protocols have been proven to give it a significant boost.

Protocol #3: Sauna for Growth Hormone Release

  • Frequency: Use the sauna infrequently, about once a week.
  • Session Structure: Opt for multiple 30-minute sessions with cooldown breaks in between. Perform four such sessions in a day.
  • Timing: Sauna works best when you're in a semi-fasted state, having not eaten for 2-3 hours prior.

"To amplify metabolic gains, alternate sauna sessions with deliberate cold exposure during the rest periods."

Additional Tips

  • Stay hydrated before and after sauna sessions, consuming at least 16 ounces of water for every 10 minutes in the sauna.
  • Consider sauna sessions in the afternoon or evening to align with your circadian rhythm, potentially aiding in better sleep at night.
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