15 min read
How Dry Sauna Use Can Help With Post Rave Depression
Anyone who has attended music festivals & EDM concerts for long enough knows that post rave depression is no joke.
Between the long & hot days, sleepless nights, and non-stop dancing & partying, it’s no wonder why it can take us a few days after these fun-filled events to feel normal again.
So what do we do? Are we supposed to just lay around the house and do nothing until we finally start to feel like ourselves again? Unfortunately most people don’t have that luxury.
The good news is, we at Raveraide have personally sifted through and tested countless rave recovery methods so that we could find the easiest and most effective ways to bring our body back into balance, restore depleted feel good chemicals, and get our mojo back as quickly as possible. (Yes, that’s an Austin Powers reference)
Each method we share here is backed by real science, and has been rigorously battle tested by our team of seasoned music festival goers so that we experience the difference first hand, and share our findings with you.
The method you’re about to hear is without a doubt one of the most powerful tools for boosting mood & enhancing recovery post festival, and we hope by the end of this article we will have convinced you to incorporate it not only after raves & music festivals, but also on a day-to-day basis.
Beat Post Rave Depression With Dry Sauna Use
How Saunas Improve Mood
Alright, so let’s get into it. We’ve got a lot to cover and so I hope you guys are ready to nerd out with me. Because of all the music festival recovery hacks I use, this is the one that I personally have been implementing for the longest period of time. It’s also the one that I use most consistently in my everyday life, specifically because of the way it helps me alleviate stress and improve my energy & mental clarity.
There have been a TON of studies done around the benefits of dry sauna use, but what I think you’re going to get especially excited about is how the sauna affects your brain & mood.
1.) Increased Norepinephrine
Before we get into that, let’s first start by talking about what happens to your body on a physiological level when you sit in a hot sauna. Firstly, as you begin to experience that increase in temperature, your body immediately starts entering into what’s called a sympathetic state, otherwise known as your “fight or flight” mode.
This is where your heart rate elevates, your blood vessels dilate, and you begin releasing certain chemicals in your brain that make you more alert. One in particular is called norepinephrine, which has been shown to improve mood, attention, and focus, and is actually targeted in many pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of depression and ADHD. And while an increase in norepinephrine alone can be enough to energize you and uplift your mood, the sauna also increases your mood in a number of other ways as well.
2.) Increased Sensitivity To Endorphins
For starters, after a few minutes in the sauna, your body begins to produce certain proteins called dynorphins which are specifically designed to help cool your body down whenever you experience heat stress. Dynorphin is responsible for giving you that uncomfortable feeling when you sit in the sauna for too long, and makes you begin thinking “Man, I need to get out of here, it’s too hot”. And while this is a pretty dysphoric and uncomfortable feeling in the moment, the increase in dynorphin actually helps to increase sensitivity to certain receptors that make your body more sensitive to Endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals your body produces when you do something enjoyable. This is one of the reasons why scientists believe dry sauna use can help with individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder.
In fact there was a study that was published in August of 2016, where researchers took a group of individuals and studied them over a six week period. During the study, they split the patients into two groups where they were given one of two treatments. The first group was treated with something they called Whole Body Hyperthermia, which is basically a fancy word for saying dry sauna use. They then had a control group that was given a placebo (a fake treatment), to gauge what effect that would have on their perceived symptoms. Placebos can be extremely powerful, and play a very important role when studying various treatments for mental health. When determining the effectiveness of a treatment on something like depression or anxiety, it’s important we tease out how much of a role the power of the mind had on the end result. Because of this, the researchers ensured that the control group thought they were getting a treatment that would improve their depression symptoms.
What they found was that the group who utilized the dry sauna showed a significant improvement in major depression symptoms, and also noted that the effect was almost two and a half times stronger than standard antidepressant treatments compared to a placebo. Which is crazy, right?! Especially because this is a purely natural treatment and remedy. And with so many individuals in our society struggling with depression and mental health disorders, this gives us hope that there may be other nonconventional treatments to help those who do struggle with major depressive disorder.
Now, I just want to say, I’m not suggesting that this should be a replacement for any SSRI’s or other antidepressant medications. You always want to consult with your doctor before implementing any of the things that we talk about here on our blog. However, I do think these studies are showing us some very promising data, and giving us a glimpse into other tools that we can use to have better control over our thoughts & emotions each day.
3.) Increased BDNF
But listen, there’s still one other powerful way that dry sauna use can impact our mental health, and that’s through increasing a protein in the brain called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF for short.
BDNF has been shown in studies to promote the growth of new neurons in the memory center of your brain. So the part of your brain responsible for executive functions such as memory, learning, decision making, and will power are all positively impacted by boosting levels of this incredible protein, which has been dubbed as “Miracle Grow for the Brain”.
Another interesting thing is that individuals who suffer from depression have been shown in studies to have lower levels of BDNF in their brain than those who do not suffer from depression. They also found that when they increased the levels of BDNF in those individuals, their symptoms of depression decreased! And so as you can see, BDNF is another powerful potential mechanism that could be contributing to the reduced symptoms of depression in individuals who use the dry sauna regularly.
How Saunas Improve Longevity
Now, beyond its ability to improve our mood through the various mechanisms mentioned above, consistent dry sauna use has also been shown to have a pretty remarkable impact on our overall longevity.
There was a study that was conducted at the University of Eastern Finland where researchers took over 2000 middle aged men and followed them for a 20 year period to see how dry sauna use might impact their risk of death from other non accidental causes like cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, respiratory diseases, etc…
What they found was that dry sauna use had a dose dependent effect on all causes of death. They found that individuals who utilized the sauna 4-7 times per week for 19 minutes or more reduced their risk of all-cause mortality by 40%, and individuals who used the sauna 2-3 times per week reduced it by 24%!
We’re talking about a 40% reduced risk of dying from ALL CAUSES of disease by simply sitting in the sauna a few times each week!! Isn’t that insane?
Now one thing that you always have to be mindful of with studies like these is something they call Confounding Factors. These are any other variables that may have had an impact on the results of the study. This could be things like how frequently those individuals exercised, whether they smoked or drank alcohol, obesity levels, body fat percentage, socioeconomic status, things like that. Well, the coolest thing about this study is that all of those confounding factors were taken into account, and they still found a 40% reduction in all cause mortality by simply using the dry sauna four or more times per week for 19 minutes.
So you might be asking, what is the sauna actually doing that’s impacting our health in such a profound way? Let’s dive into it.
1.) Heat Shock Proteins
One interesting potential mechanism is that during dry sauna use, your body releases something called Heat Shock Proteins. These proteins play an incredibly important role in going through our body, and cleaning up any of the damage that’s accumulated over time. This damage can be due to things like environmental toxins, chemicals, pollution, the food we consume, and even emotional stress!
As this stress and damage compiles over time, we begin to accumulate something called Free Radicals in our body. This exact process has been theorized as one of the primary contributors to the aging process, although there’s also many other factors at play. So when your body produces these Heat Shock Proteins, they immediately work to eliminate these free radicals by increasing your production of important antioxidants like Glutathione. These Heat Shock Proteins are also responsible for going and repairing various proteins that have been damaged as a result of the different stressors we are exposed to over time.
This is REALLY important because if these damaged proteins are not repaired in time, they can begin clumping together and forming something called Amyloid Beta in the brain. This can play a major role in cognitive decline, ultimately leading to the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Because of this, it’s very, very important to have these heat shock proteins active, so they can serve as your internal “cleanup crew” and make sure that all of the proteins in your body are functioning properly. This is an especially important process for us festival goers, as we all know how much stress and damage can accumulate from a weekend of going out and partying.
So by simply sitting in the dry sauna for 20 minutes per day, we can experience a significant improvement in our health, memory, and brains over time.
2.) FOXO3 Gene
Now, one final potential mechanism that could be contributing to the improved longevity due to sauna use is the activation of a specific gene called FOXO3. And listen, before I lose you with all of this different scientific jargon, what you need to understand is that FOXO3 is another pathway that helps to go through and clean up & repair any damaged DNA or cells in your body that can lead to disease if left for too long.
When a cell accumulates enough damage from stress in our everyday life, it becomes what’s called Senescent. You can think of a senescent cell as a zombie cell. It’s not really alive and doing anything, but it’s also not fully dead. If these senescent cells are not cleaned up and removed, then over time they can begin to secrete pro-inflammatory compounds. When this happens, it begins to damage the other cells around them, creating more zombie cells, which ultimately speed up the aging process. So by utilizing the dry sauna and activating FOXO3, it prevents all of that damage from taking place.
There was actually a study done in mice where they were given a chemical compound that cleared out those senescent cells any time they started to accumulate in the body. Scientists found that by giving them that compound and helping to clear out those damaged cells, it extended the lifespan of those mice by 20%. It’s been proven conclusively that these senescent cells do accelerate the aging process, so anything you can do from a lifestyle standpoint to get rid of those senescent cells will have a direct impact on how well you age over time.
So hopefully by now you understand why I get so excited about sharing this information with you, because I truly believe it will make a significant difference not only on your quality of life today, but also down the road in your later years. Doing these small things now, so that as you age you can still think clearly, you still have your memory, and you still have the energy to do the things that bring your life happiness and meaning.
I heard a quote that really stood out to me one time that said, “It’s not about the amount of years in your life, but rather the amount of life in your years”. It’s about how you’re experiencing life each day that truly matters. Are you waking up and jumping out of bed in the morning? Are you feeling passionate, excited, and fired up to take on the day? Or does your body hurt? Do you feel tired, lethargic, and foggy headed? These are all things that over time, can be improved by implementing these practices, and it’s why I get so excited about sharing this information.
Before we go, I need to share a few precautions and things to keep in mind before incorporating the dry sauna into your daily routine. The first one is that dry sauna use does have the potential to lower your blood pressure. So if you have any heart conditions, or if you have any issues with low blood pressure, definitely speak with a physician before implementing this practice.
For many people lowering your blood pressure is a positive, but for some individuals this can be a bit dangerous. Also, any time that you use the dry sauna, you are expelling a lot of electrolytes and sodium from your body. So if you ever start feeling dizzy or lightheaded after getting out of the sauna, drinking some Raveraide or even just throwing a pinch of sea salt into your water can do the trick.
Now remember, the benefits of dry sauna use that I mentioned above are dose dependent. Most of the saunas in those studies were at temperatures ranging between 170 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. And once again, if you want to get the maximum benefits, you need to be in there for anywhere between 10-20 minutes.
So as always, be smart and listen to the signals that your body is giving you. If you’re in the sauna, if you’re feeling like something’s not right, then get out and go cool off. Obviously you’re going to feel uncomfortable after a while, but if something feels off or you feel light headed, then don’t try to push yourself. Remember, this is not a competition.
Everybody starts from a different point. So focus on starting small, starting slow and then slowly increasing the duration over time. I promise you will immediately begin to notice the benefits of feeling less high strung, more resilient to everyday stress, more relaxed, and more clear and happy each and every day.
Want to read up on some of our other favorite strategies for speeding up your post festival recovery? Check out these articles:
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