Andrew Huberman's Sauna Protocols And The Science Behind Deliberate Heat Exposure

Andrew Huberman's Sauna Protocols And The Science Behind Deliberate Heat Exposure

First things first: hydrate before and after using the sauna.

You should be drinking 16 ounces of water for every 10 minutes you spend in the sauna. Just do it, you'll feel much better. Now, without further ado, here are Andrew Huberman's outlined sauna protocols, segmented by health goals:
  1. Protocol for Cardiovascular Health:
  • Heat sauna to 80-100°C (176-212°F) - actual temperature depends on personal heat tolerance
  • Stay in sauna for 5-20 minutes per session
  • Repeat sauna use 2-3x per week, or as often as 7x per week
  • More frequent use appears to be better for cardiovascular health


  1. Protocol for General Health:
  • Heat sauna to 80-100°C (176-212°F)
  • Use sauna for a total of 1 hour per week, split into 2-3 sessions
  • Use sauna for improved mood, stress management, and enhancement of the body’s hormetic response pathways


  1. Protocol for Growth Hormone Release:
  • Heat sauna to 80-100°C (176-212°F)
  • Use sauna infrequently (once per week or less)
  • Use multiple sessions of 30 minutes each with cool down periods in between
  • Use the sauna in a semi-fasted state (having not ingested food for 2 to 3 hours prior)


You'll notice with these protocols that the ideal temperature of the sauna should  be at 176 degrees Fahrenheit and above. This is why Huberman recommends a traditional sauna over infrared. Having said that, he does clarify that traditional or infrared, a high temperature is what's important to reap the full benefits of deliberate heat exposure. Infrared saunas typically only range between 110-150 degrees.
Dr. Huberman recommends using specific breathing techniques as well to help regulate the stress response and improve relaxation. One technique he recommends is called "box breathing," which involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding for 4 seconds. This technique can be used during sauna sessions and cold exposures to help regulate the body's stress response.
According to Dr. Huberman, box breathing can help to regulate the body's stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" response. When the body is under stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, which triggers the body's "fight or flight" response. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system through box breathing, the body can shift from a state of stress to a state of relaxation.
Huberman cites studies around traditional sauna use to support these protocols. Regular heat exposure has shown to benefit overall health, improve mood, adjust hormone levels, and enhance athletic performance and recovery (Laukkanen et al., 2018). But, as with any practice, safety considerations must be made. Heat exposure can be dangerous if temperatures are too high, and certain individuals, such as pregnant women and children younger than 16, should not sauna. 
One of the most significant benefits of sauna use is improved cardiovascular health. Participants who regularly used a sauna reduced their risk of cardiovascular events and stroke, according to the same study by Laukkanen. Furthermore, regular sauna use has been positively correlated with a reduction in all-cause mortality. Sauna use also triggers mechanisms in the body and brain similar to those engaged during physical exercise, which leads to increased heart rate, blood flow, and vasodilation (Laukkanen et al., 2018).
Saunas can also improve mood and stress response. Dynorphins and endorphins are released in the brain in response to heat, leading to a mild euphoria post-sauna. Heat exposure also triggers hormesis, a mild, tolerable stress that stimulates the body to positively adapt. Hormesis is crucial to enhancing the body's longevity pathways and heat-dependent molecular mechanisms, such as heat shock proteins, that monitor and repair protein structures within our cells (Schieber & Chandel, 2014).
Finally, the release of growth hormone can be stimulated through sauna use. Occasional use of specific sauna protocols, such as four 30-minute sessions with cool down periods in between, has been shown to dramatically boost the amount of growth hormone released, according to peer-reviewed research (Leppaluoto et al., 2006). However, this protocol should only be used once a week or less to avoid blunting the growth hormone-increasing effects.
Overall, deliberate heat exposure protocols have several benefits for health and performance. To gain these benefits safely and effectively, it's essential to follow recommended protocols and safety considerations. Additionally, it's essential to stay hydrated during and after sauna use to replenish the body's electrolytes lost through sweat.


Sauna Temp.
Time in Sauna
Cardiovascular Health
5-20 minutes
2-3x per week, up to 7x week
Improve cardiovascular health
General Health
Total of 1 hour per week, split into 2-3 sessions
Improve mood, stress management, and hormetic response pathways
Growth Hormone Release
Multiple sessions of 30 minutes each with cool down periods in between, once per week or less
Use in a semi-fasted state
Boost growth hormone release


Laukkanen, T., Kunutsor, S. K., Kauhanen, J., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age and Ageing, 47(4), 626-629.

Leppaluoto, J., Westerlund, T., Huttunen, P., Oksa, J., & Smolander, J. (2006). Effects of long‐term whole‐body cold exposures on plasma concentrations of ACTH, beta‐endorphin, cortisol, catecholamines and cytokines in healthy females. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, 66(6), 505-516.

Schieber, M., & Chandel, N. S. (2014). ROS function in redox signaling and oxidative stress. Current Biology, 24(10), R453-R462.


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