Float Therapy Benefits
People commonly float to relieve stress and anxiety, though it’s benefits might be surprising and further reaching than we know.
Sensory deprivation might seem scary for the uninitiated. However, floating in a sensory deprivation tank will have the opposite effect, instead offering a deep sense of calm that for many is hard to reach.
The float experience involves being perfectly supported by Epsom salt saturated water, kept precisely at body temperature, floating effortlessly without feeling any external pressures – like floating in space, flotation therapy or isolation therapy in a flotation tank is often described as like being in a zero gravity environment.
Carefully engineered, the environment is designed 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 Key Health Benefits Of Floating
Floating Reduces Anxiety
Modern life can be overwhelmingly stimulating. Constant news of conflict or the pandemic, fear of illness, social media, mobile phones, advertising, all bombard our senses seemingly without respite.
This can easily create a constant state of stress. The dangers of chronic stress are well documented, and can manifest in various ways – elevated blood pressure, anxiety disorder, and the impact on the body’s time to recover can even lead to physical pain or impact sleep quality.
Research is beginning to show that there are long term health benefits from training the body and mind to recover. It’s why interval training can make you live longer, as it trains your systems to recover from exertion as much as it trains them to work at higher intensity.
Exercise is actually great at reducing stress hormone cortisol, though floating achieves this PLUS reduces adrenaline, whereas exercise increases it.
Floating has consistently been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as improve sleep quality, and general well-being.
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 several physical benefits that floating has been shown to offer – including reduced pain, inflammation, reducing stress your body or immune system might be under.
Floating promotes vasodilation, which means that your blood vessels dilate to allow better blood flow as well as ease high blood pressure. Better blood flow also means better oxygenation, and nutrient delivery.
Essentially, floating helps the body to repair itself faster – including the brain, limbs, and organs – leading to reduced inflammation, muscle pain, and even pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
Floatation rest also usually promotes 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 helps recovery from sore muscles, 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 sulfate. There is major research underway which seeks to prove magnesium absorption through skin – many think float therapy can remedy an individual’s magnesium deficiency, with anecdotal evidence to suggest it reduces restless leg syndrome, among other related symptoms.
Magnesium also 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 are needed to show how sustained floatation tank use can promote expected long term health benefits from reduced stress, though it seems logical that a practice which promotes a healthy balance of cortisol and adrenaline might reduce the risk of chronic stress related illness.
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. Rest is important for the body to manage cortisol levels, so not prioritising rest can even cause cortisol to maintain above healthy levels.
By reducing cortisol, floating also might aid the body to maintain healthier melatonin levels, a hormone that helps the transition to sleep each night.
Find 6 of the world’s most advanced sensory deprivation tanks at our Old Street centre.
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 well-being.
There’s significant anecdotal evidence that floating helps with chronic pain, athletic recovery, super-learning, better sleep, reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, and the act of being in an isolation tank is even used by some to aid consciousness exploration (more on this in another blog post).
The long-term health benefits of regular good quality sleep or a successful mediation practice are well-proven. Proper rest improves immune function, reduces the risk of chronic illnesses, and has a big impact on both cognitive and athletic performance.
Given that floating can be used as a powerful tool to improve both sleep and meditation, it’s tempting to think there are many long-term benefits of floating yet to be discovered.