Benefits and Science behind Floatation Therapy

The concept behind floatation therapy is not new; as a matter of fact floatation devices were introduced to the scientific world by Dr. John Lilly in the mid 50’s and from there, these devices that were initially called isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks have become a popular method through which individuals are able to attain enhanced levels of relaxation or deep relaxation. The concept or origins of this deep state of relaxation which has been aptly named REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) can be traced back to the Dead Sea based on the fact that visitors who swam in the Dead Sea easily remained afloat due to the high salinity of the water which prevented swimmers from sinking. According to studies, individuals floating in a floatation tank trigger a deep relaxation response that is more intense than normal sleep due to the fact that these tanks allow those floating in it to glide into the elusive Theta State which in most case scenarios is very difficult to achieve.

Studies have revealed that by removing human senses for brief periods of time by eliminating external stimuli, an individual’s central nervous system’s processes are condensed or reduce by a staggering 90% and this significant reduction allows individuals to draw their energy inwards which is also regarded as a parasympathetic response. This response is the method through which the human body naturally rejuvenates itself as it attempts to achieve internal metabolic and chemical balance. Observations show that repeated use of floatation tanks allows injuries to heal faster as T-cell production which strengthens the immune system is increased. Other benefits that can be derived from these floatation tanks include an enhanced cardiovascular system which is referred to as the vasodilator effect where the circulation rate of blood and fluids in the body is increased while the heart rate and blood pressure levels are reduced due to the elimination of gravity. The elimination of gravitational forces on the human body allow muscles, tendons, arteries and joints to ease tension which advocates rapid healing.

Brainwave States

According to neuro-scientists, the human brain goes into 4 different brain wave states depending on brain activity levels. The Beta state for example is when the brain functions at 12 Hz – 38 Hz and it is the mental state that most people are in during the day. The Alpha state (8 Hz – 12 Hz) on the other hand is the state of mind most people get into when they just awake or when they are just about to go to sleep. The Delta state 0.2 Hz – 3 Hz is when the mind is in a deep dreamless sleep. The Theta State that is achievable through floatation tanks is when the brain functions at a 4 Hz – 7 Hz range where extreme relaxation is achieved for the human body to mend and reset itself. This state of mind can also be used for conducting hypnosis and accelerate learning based on the fact that the mind is still receptive in this brain state despite being deprived of senses.

The Float Factor

The floatation therapy concept is basically a very simple idea that provides benefits that are incredible. No doubt that the concept is simple; the theory is well founded based on empirical and scientific evidence that justifies and proves the health enhancing effects of floatation therapy. The basic fact is that everyone knows that sleep is fundamental towards good health, in the same light relaxing sleep is even more fundamental towards good health, stress as well as illness recovery. It is during relaxed sleep that the human body remedies itself. Floating therapy is similar to the ‘relaxed sleep’ concept; however the fact is that in a flotation therapy tank individuals are even more relaxed. According to scientists floatation tanks are beneficial mentally and physically by improving sleep, alleviating stress, reenergising, rejuvenating and revitalising individuals by promoting total calm and increasing the duration of peaceful relaxation. Other notable factors about those who ‘float’ includes increased levels of motivation while simultaneously diminishing depression, anxiety and fear. Some research even indicate that floating helps reduce dependency from habits, phobias and as well as addictions.

Proven Benefits of Floatation

floatation tanks_in_melbourneBased on certain studies floatation has been found to stimulate the left/right brain synchronisation by altering brain waves from high frequency beta waves to lower level frequency alpha, theta and even delta waves which promotes mental clarity, alertness, increased level of creativity and problem solving abilities. Some subjects even experience heightened visualisation or acuteness of all the senses. It is due to this that floatation is believed to assist in accelerated learning.

Floatation also has many physical benefits which include the body producing decreased levels of cortisol, ACTH, lactic acid as well as adrenaline, while increasing the production of endorphins.

Studies also show that the therapy fast forwards rehabilitation and recovery and is effective towards relieving pain related to arthritis, migraines and injuries. Immune systems are also enhanced due to the improved circulation and distribution of oxygen and nutrients that are brought about by ‘floating’. Athletes are known to use floatation in order to improve their performance as floatation is effective in reducing blood pressure, optimising heart rates and oxygen consumption.

Floatation tanks contain Epsom-salt solution that is approximately 0.25 meters deep which simulates the same environment in the Dead Sea, which allows an individual to float with ease on the surface of the water akin to weightlessness. The tanks are usually made from fibreglass and are built in such a way that it obstructs external stimuli (sights, sounds, tactile sensations and gravity). Due to the fact that the salt-water solution is set to 35.5°C (body temperature), individuals find it hard to distinguish which parts of their body are in the water and which parts are not.

Most floatation sessions typically last for an hour and in most circumstances and individual who gets into a floatation tank would take approximately fifteen minutes before entering into the first stage of deep relaxation after which the remaining 45 minutes passes by swiftly and effortlessly. Although an individual only uses the tank for an hour, the effects linger on after he or she leaves the tank for the rest of the day and multiple uses of the tank may lead to the effect lasting weeks beyond the initial sessions.

Short video documentary on floatation tanks and their benefits:

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One Comment

  1. Jelena Vidic says:

    Hi there,
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