Floatation therapy, also known as sensory deprivation involves lying in a salt-water solution, in approximately 11 inches of water and 1100lbs of epsom salt. This results in almost zero outward distractions, allowing you to effortlessly redirect your focus inward to facilitate relaxation and introspection.
It’s likely to be the most relaxing thing you’ve ever experienced.
A float tank is not as much of an object as it is an environment. An environment whose purpose is to act as a counterbalance to every other interaction we have with the world around us. It is the pursuit of a pure nothingness. A place of rest. It is an environment that allows our bodies and our minds to sink away from the society that has been built around us, and to instead turn focus internally. A chance to check in with ourselves, uninhibited and unadulterated by the external forces that are otherwise omnipresent. There is no magic in the float tank, the magic is us. Our bodies have spent millions of years learning how to take care of themselves, and the float tank simply provides the optimum environment with which to do it.
Each tank holds a solution that is about 2/3 water and 1/3 Epsom salt. With the 10" solution that most tanks are designed to hold, this comes out to about 1000lbs of Epsom salt. The Epsom salt adds density to the water, which in turn makes our bodies very buoyant. As a person lies on their back in the float tank, their body floats on the surface, half in and half out of the water. This buoyancy has an incredibly rejuvenating effect on the human body.
The closet experience to this that most people know of is the Dead Sea, a hyper saline lake in Israel known for its ability to keep people afloat.
The temperature of the water is kept at 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the average temperature of the human body. This is a temperature known as skin-receptor neutral, meaning the water creates no cues for the skin to report as tactile stimulation.
The tanks and rooms are soundproofed to block all noise from the outside world, and light-trapped to create complete and total darkness.
The combination of these elements creates an environment that is free from all external stimulation. Our bodies responds to this environment by basically taking a gigantic mental and physical sign of relief. No longer worried about filtering the outside world to look for potential danger, our production of stress-related hormones drop to almost nothing, our brainwaves lower in frequency to a state associated with mental relaxation and free-thinking, and there is a natural spike in the neurochemicals that me us feel joy.
All of this compounded by the inherent relaxation created by absorbing Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate). While used primarily in the float tank to actually make people float, Epsom salt comes with the added benefit of softening skin and hair, cleaning and detoxifying the body, and getting people the magnesium most of us are lacking.
BENEFITS OF FLOATING
What's truly impressive about floating is that almost every one of these benefits lasts for several days past the float itself. The longer and the more often the float tank is used the stronger the effects become, the longer they last, and the better off someone is when they come back to float again.
This creates a positive spiral of recovery and health that simply works to reinforce itself, giving people a path and a means towards a better life. We live in a world that is overbrimming with sensory stimulation. Our brains take in this information and look for warnings of potential danger. This was an efficient system when only fast moving objects around us were lions pouncing out of bushes to attack. However, our modern world of blinking advertisements, speeding cars and honking buses overwhelm this system. Our fight or flight response is constantly firing, creating unwarranted levels of emotional and physical stress.
When you are in a float tank, this system is at rest. Our brains look for sights and sounds for warnings, but there are none. the float tank gives us a feeling of safety and comfort that is unparalleled by any other environment. Our fight or flight regulates many of the hormones associated with stress, including adrenaline and cortisol. When our fight or flight goes dormant, the production of these hormones drops lower and lower, allowing us to relax on a biological level. In response to feeling safe and relaxed, our brains start pumping out dopamine, a neurochemical our body uses to reward us with pleasure, encouraging us to repeat the actions that got us to this state.
Float tanks have huge implications for athletics, mostly stemming from the fact that you can actually train your body harder and faster with the use of a float tank. This means that anything from gyms, to private trainers, to high level athletes could benefit from floating.
Our bodies can physically rest up to 4 times faster in a float tank than in bed. REM cycles are not expedited (so you can't decrease the amount of time you need to sleep at night), but expedited physical rest can mean a lot to people who are training their bodies. Doing an upper body workout usually requires letting your upper body rest for 48 hours before it will be beneficial to work that same part of the body again. With a float tank, an athlete can simply float after their upper body workout, and get right back to it the next day.
Injuries have shown to heal up to twice as fast while floating, with a gradually diminishing effect for several days after. This can bring sports players back onto the field faster, and is an ideal treatment to coincide with many forms of physical rehabilitation. Many injuries are a result of stress and tension in the body during the moment of injury. Floating encourages a relaxed physicality that helps prevent injuries from occurring.
STRENGHTENED IMMUNE SYSTEM
The abundance of resources freed up while floating allows our body to reallocate that energy towards building up our defences, giving us a nice boost of immunity during and after a float. The density of the salt water puts the floater in an environment where approximately 80% of the gravity we usually feel is no longer affecting our body. We use a large portion of our mental and physical resources contracting the force of gravity on a moment to moment basis, and the relief of this effort leaves our body with a surplus of energy and processing power at its disposal. When left with this abundance, our body spends its efforts on resting, recuperating, and healing anything that needs attention. In addition to this, the gravity-reduced environment allows our body to decompress, especially throughout the joints and the spinal column. It is the combination of these elements that creates the following benefits.