Imagine being weightless, warm, and completely free from the outside world for an entire hour of your day. Sound like bliss? Then maybe you should try ‘floating’ awhile in a floatation tank.
What is Float Therapy (sensory deprivation)?
Invented in 1954 by neuroscientist and psychologist John C Lilly, floatation therapy, or sensory deprivation, is a form of relaxation therapy that uses a sensory deprivation tank to isolate you from the world and all external stimuli. These floatation tanks are spa like pools of water saturated with Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) water solution, heated to skin temperature. Both light- and sound-proof, these isolation tanks allow for a deep level of profound relaxation unlike anything else.
By achieving sensory deprivation, your body is allowed to enter a state of deep relaxation. This calms anxiety and releases pent-up stress from the muscles. The salt content in the water reduces muscle inflammation and soreness, making it an effective treatment for chronic pain, and migraines.
8 Beneficial Benefits of a Float Tank
Epsom salts contain magnesium, which is very therapeutic for your skin and body. The water may feel silky or dense helping it to soften your skin and relax stiff or sore muscles. As your skin absorbs the magnesium, your body is drained of toxins and harmful free radicals. This all results in a variety of beneficial effects.
1. It helps you connect with your mind
As you enter a state of deep relaxation, your mind is free to process emotions and reduce the overload of information. In our lives, we are overstimulated from an excess of content and distractions. Even a single session of float therapy helps give you a break from this, stimulating brainwaves that usually only occur while sleeping, and boosting mental performance.
2. Relieving Severe Anxiety and Stress
As a relaxation shortcut, floatation therapy helps to provide stress relief, reduce stress hormones, and treat mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. Floating works to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what brings the human body back to a state of balance when we experience something stressful.
3. Boosting your Immune System
Recent studies have found a strong link between our immune system and our stress levels. Linking heightened stress with weakened immune systems. In turn, floatation’s ability to break the stress cycle helps to improve immunity.
4. Improving your Sleep
Floating regularly can help immensely in managing insomnia and resetting our sleep cycles. While floating our brain waves drop down to a theta state making it easier to fall into a deep sleep. Some doctors have even compared 1 hour of sleep during a float session to 4 hours sleep in bed.
5. Straightening Posture
While floating the stress on our muscles by gravity are lessened, helping give our body the opportunity to heal and relax. Being weightless works to help straighten out our spine and maintain a more healthy position than when lying in bed. This combined with the natural pain-killer magnesium already present in the Epsom salt work together to make floatation ideal for those with sore bodies.
6. Easing Muscle Aches and Pains
Salt water is a common curative for muscle pain or for someone feeling unwell. It is known to remove toxins, reduce lactic acid, and relax the body. Many athletes like to use float therapy or salt water baths after an intense workout or sporting event to help maintain athletic performance. It may even be recommended as a complementary treatment for those undergoing physiotherapy.
7. Lowering Blood Pressure
During float therapy, your brain receives a chance to reset itself. Your heart rate and blood pressure come down as you feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. By relieving our body of all external pressure, our blood cells can dilate, reducing our blood pressure and increasing blood circulation throughout our entire body. This in turn helps to enhance the distribution of oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies while also speeding up the healing of our muscles, tissues, and cells.
8. Improving General Beauty
Once again we come back to our miracle Epsom salts! In addition to all the aforementioned benefits, the magnesium levels work to remove dead skin cells, clean pores, and refresh skin health. This also means it can help treat a variety of skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. But it doesn’t just stop there, because it also provides a notable improvement to your hair! Working to remove any excess products and contaminants still stuck in there after a long day.
What happens in float therapy?
When you arrive for your initial float session, you will be asked to fill in some paperwork. Do make sure you get to the float centre at least 15 minutes before your appointment so that you have time to prepare in a calm, unhurried manner.
You will be provided with towels, shower essentials like shampoo and body wash, ear plugs, and a private changing room and shower. You may bring your own toiletries, robe or towel, and hair brush. Bring a small face towel to wipe your face and prevent salt water from dripping into your eyes. Choose loose clothing to wear after your float therapy session, and don’t forget to bring a waterproof bag.
You may be given a short briefing by the float professional before you begin. Then you’ll shower, change into your swimsuit, and step into the pod. Float centres recommend that you float in the nude for a back-to-nature experience, but you are free to keep your swimsuit on if you wish. The pods are thoroughly drained and disinfected between clients, and the water is changed, so you don’t have to worry about hygiene.
The lukewarm water in your float therapy session is heated to match regular skin temperature, so you won’t be able to change that. You don’t have to worry about drowning or knowing how to swim, the Epsom salt will help you float naturally. There will also be a head support or neck pillow in the pod to keep your neck relaxed.
After your session is over, you can shower and change. You’ll feel relaxed and calm, limber and refreshed, as if you have just completed a healing meditation session. It is recommended that you try floatation therapy at least three times to experience the best long-term effects.
How Much Does Float Therapy Cost?
A single float session will typically cost upwards of $60 for an hour long session. Often though, massage parlors will offer deals for those looking to get more out of their time. These can involve either coupling a floatation session with a massage session right after or better costs for spending more time in the pods.
Are there any Negative Effects?
Floatation therapy typically carries no adverse effects for most people. However, people often report feeling emotional, overjoyed, or sleepy, so try to avoid planning anything important for after your session. Some people also tend to feel disoriented after, further encouraging you to relax afterwards.
To ensure best results you should also make sure to drink plenty of fluids afterwards to guarantee that all your toxins are eliminated. Similarly, try to avoid heavy meals, caffeine, or alcohol to further dehydrate you.
While floatation therapy is generally safe for most people, it should definitely be avoided by certain people. If you are currently:
- Recently wounded
- A recent surgery patient
- Having kidney troubles
then you should try to avoid floatation therapy, or at the very least check with your doctor to ensure all necessary precautions are met.
Do note that float therapy is not a cure for any existing conditions. It cannot cure insomnia, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and other specific conditions.
Where to Start?
If the idea of floating appeals to you, Avaana can connect you with a licensed float centre. At the beginning of your appointment, a professional will talk you through the process, ensuring you’re able to get the most out of the floatation experience. Get ready to float all your troubles away!