8 Health Benefits of Float Tanks

Float tanks are lightless, soundproof tanks filled with skin-temperature salt water, which is so buoyant you’ll naturally float without any effort. They may also be called sensory deprivation tanks, isolation tanks or even the acronym REST (restricted environment stimulation technique).

It may sound unpleasantly claustrophobic to some of us, but you are actually in control of your environment when in the tank. This allows even those with claustrophobia to enjoy a float session. They’re increasing in popularity as people and researchers are discovering numerous benefits to spending time floating.

If you’re considering taking the plunge, keep in mind that the effects of floatation are shown to become stronger through repeated exposure. It’s unlikely you’ll see a lot of benefit if you only go for one session. Research suggests at least three to ten weekly sessions to start with.

1. REDUCE STRESS

Relaxation may be the most obvious and well-researched benefit of floatation tanks. It’s also integral to many of the other proven benefits of floating. Due to the buoyancy of the water, you can relax every muscle and joint in your body.

Scientists estimate that up to 90 percent of the brain’s normal workload is caused by the effects of routine physical pressures, such as gravity, temperature, touch, light and sound. You no longer have to fight with any of these as you relax in the tank.

Many of the stress-reducing benefits of a float are surprisingly similar to those of meditation. Using brain scans, research has found that meditation decreases activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for a “fight or flight” stress response to real or perceived threats.

Preliminary research shows that floating sessions can switch off your amygdala in a similar way. This may also be why many people report feelings of increased relaxation and euphoria following a float. Floating can also lower blood pressure and reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone released when you’re stressed.

2. HELP PAIN MANAGEMENT

The reduction in muscle tension during a float can help many chronic pain issues. Research has found that floating can reduce pain from chronic headaches, rheumatic pain, pre-menstrual pain, and stress-related pain from injuries and other illnesses.

A Swedish study discovered that pain control isn’t limited to immediately after a float session. It can last for months afterwards. The study gave participants a series of two 45-minute floats per week for six weeks. They had good results immediately after the sessions, but their results were the same when they were reevaluated four months later. On average, participants experienced 48 percent less pain, as well as 31 percent less perceived stress.

3. EASE DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

In the Swedish study mentioned above, participants also experienced a 26 percent reduction in anxiety and depression following their float sessions, as well as an increase in optimism. This improvement was the same four months later.

The control of the amygdala and reduction in cortisol levels as described previously are also known to reduce depression and anxiety. Other studies suggest the psychological benefits are even greater when combined with therapeutic counseling.

Flotation_Tank_Isolation_Tank
Photo of Float Tank by Floatguru, via Wikimedia Commons

4. INCREASE CREATIVITY

A few studies have shown that spending time in a deprivation tank can increase creativity. One explanation for this may be how relaxation can calm your conscious mind. This allows more direct access to your subconscious mind, which tends to communicate in the form of pictures, symbols and creative thoughts. And perhaps it’s no surprise that floatation sessions are also shown to improve visual imagery techniques, such as creative visualization.

Related: How to Communicate With Your Subconscious Using Creative Visualization

5. ENHANCE PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Studies have shown floating enhances many types of sports and musical performance. This also partially relates back to relaxation. Exercise will stimulate your muscles, but actual growth and strengthening take place when you relax afterwards, often 30 to 40 hours later. The deep relaxation in a float tank improves circulation, which will support growth and regeneration of muscle tissue as you relax.

The fact floating enhances visual imagery is also important for physical capabilities. You can use creative visualization to improve any skill, and floating can boost your results. For example, Carl Lewis used in-tank visualization to prepare for his gold-medal-winning long jump at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. And the Dallas Cowboys have used float tanks since 1981 to develop their physical and psychological skills.

6. PROMOTE LEARNING

Another important aspect of floating is how it affects your brain waves. Brain scans have found that floating can increase your theta waves. These wavelengths are normally seen when you fall asleep and wake up, as well as during meditation. They can be accompanied by unexpected, dreamlike images. In fact, many people have reported having hallucinations during float sessions.

Theta brain waves help support your creativity, intuition, emotional balance and restorative sleep. You can also be highly open to suggestion at these times as your conscious, logical mind is largely switched off. Your mind can take in a great deal more information, which has great potential for learning.

Floating just before a study session or visualizing during a float have both been shown to enhance learning.

7. IMPROVE SLEEP

The Swedish study described above also found that participants had a 23 percent improvement in sleep quality after their series of float sessions, which was still maintained four months later. Effective relaxation and enhancement of theta brain waves may explain this benefit.

8. COMBAT ADDICTION

A study published in the International Journal of Addictions found that floatation can help treat addictive behaviors such as smoking, overeating, alcohol consumption and drug misuse.

Researchers attributed the effectiveness of floating to the deep relaxation involved, as well as the internal focus, temporary removal of trigger cues, increased feelings of control and enhanced learning abilities.

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90 comments

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga10 days ago

thanks

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Paulo R
Paulo R10 days ago

ty

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Leo C
Leo C10 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Aldana W
Aldana W10 days ago

thanks

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Janis K
Janis K10 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Kathy G
Kathy G10 days ago

Thank you

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Jennifer M
Jennifer M12 days ago

love to try one of these

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Ruth S
Ruth S12 days ago

Thanks.

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Angela J
Angela J12 days ago

Thanks

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Kathy G
Kathy G12 days ago

Thank you

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