Would you like to be able to float your way to less pain, anxiety, depression, and stress? It might seem too good to be true, if you haven’t discovered floating yet.
Sensory deprivation might seem scary for the uninitiated, floating in one of our sensory deprivation tanks will have the opposite effect. Supported by Epsom salt saturated water, kept precisely at body temperature, you will effortlessly float without feeling any external pressures – a feeling so amazing that floating is often compared to a feeling of weightlessness.
The environment is carefully engineered to remove sensory input such as light, sound, gravity, or even touch. This enables the senses to calm in a way that’s unlike anything else. Wrapped in a protective cocoon of silence and warmth, suddenly you are free from distractions and stresses of the world. The magic of floating all stems from this – promoting a deep meditative state in which the body is shown to heal itself faster.
5 Huge Health Benefits Of Floating
Floating Reduces Anxiety
Modern life can be overwhelmingly stimulating. Social media, mobile phones, advertising, all bombard our senses with the intentional effect of creating a response to compel action, create addiction or even fear (FOMO, anyone?). This can easily create seemingly perpetual stress. Chronic stress leads to an overactive hypothalamus, which is the signaller to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. In turn, this can result in abnormally high stress, anxiety, and depression.
Floating has consistently been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as improve sleep quality, and general wellbeing. In a 2006 study, benefits were reported up to 4 months after a course of floatation therapy.
In a more recent 2018 study, respected neuroscientist Justin Feinstein was able to demonstrate that floatation therapy reduced anxiety for all participants. Indeed, 50 subjects across a spectrum of anxiety and stress related disorders (posttraumatic stress, generalized anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, and social anxiety) reported that floatation substantially reduced their state of anxiety as measured by the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory. This was from just one session for each patient involved in the study, with each also reporting significant reductions in stress, muscle tension, pain, and depression. In combination, patients also reported significant improvements in serenity, relaxation, happiness, and overall wellbeing.
Floating Relieves Physical Pain
There are a couple of main ways in which floating has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, stress-related pain, and burnout related depression. Floating promotes vasodilation, which means that your blood vessels dilate to allow better blood flow. Better blood flow means better oxygenation and nutrient delivery. Essentially, floating helps the body to repair itself faster – including the brain, limbs, and organs – leading to minimised muscular pain, and even pain from degenerative disc disease.
Additionally, floating usually elicits a response from the body in the form of increased beta-endorphin secretion. Beta-endorphins are often termed as the body’s natural painkillers, and can provide a quick, and often profound improvement in perceived pain.
Floating Speeds Up Recovery And Boosts Athletic Performance
Floating helps athletes bounce back faster. Another effect of improved vasodilation is your body can more quickly flush out lactic acid after workouts. This reduces muscle soreness, pain, and stiffness.
Professional sports teams have been using floatation for years, to aid not only recovery, but mental sharpness and visualisation. Indeed, the 2015 Super Bowl final featured two teams that both employed floatation therapy for their athletes prior to the final, to improve performance on the field.
A study on basketball players displayed evidence of skill improvement after floatation. It’s suspected that the more relaxed state, enabled for keener focus on shooting, leading to a higher percentage of successful shots.
Floating Lowers Stress
The Epsom salts used in floatation therapy are high grade Magnesium sulphate. Magnesium inhibits ACTH, which is a driver in your body to boost the secretion of stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol reduction has regularly been shown to top 20% from 60 minutes in a float tank. Greater benefits are felt by people with higher stress levels, as might be expected.
Whilst it might be easy to think of reducing stress as a positive in itself, the secondary benefits of this can be vast. Immediate effects such as sharper focus, better concentration, enhanced creativity, faster learning, and improved memory have all been shown to come following floatation. Longer term studies on how a sustained practice can promote expected long term health benefits from reduced stress are still lacking, and Float Hub will be looking to help this understanding with credible research in the future.
Floating Improves Sleep
One of the largest studies on sleep ever conducted, found that 50% of us in the UK fail to get enough of it. The Guardian describes getting good sleep as the best thing you can do for your health. Floating helps sleep, so perhaps floating is actually the best thing you can do for your health.
Floating brings your parasympathetic system back into balance, and the reduction of cortisol and adrenaline again have been shown to clear the path for a deeper, more restorative sleep. Cortisol levels are naturally at their greatest in the morning, at which time they help people achieve the energy and alertness required to wake and begin the day. Cortisol levels should naturally reduce towards the evening, and higher than ordinary levels can disrupt sleep. Sleep and rest are important for the body to manage cortisol levels, so a lack of sleep can even cause cortisol levels to be aggravated beyond healthy levels.
By reducing cortisol levels, floating also might aid the body to maintain healthier melatonin levels, a hormone that helps the transition to sleep each night.
What Else Might Floating Help?
It’s been reliably shown that there can be far reaching, often profound benefits from floating in terms of health, lifestyle, and wellbeing. Given that some of these are similar or deeper benefits to a successful meditation practice or regular good quality sleep, it’s tempting to think that the greatest benefits of floating are yet to be proven with direct data – what can it’s impact on wellbeing have on our long term health?