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All About Flotation Therapy: Can This Relaxing Experience Support Overall Health?

by Power Life Team | May 28, 2020

Flotation therapy is a calming, relaxing sensation that is hard to find elsewhere. Imagine yourself floating on water, in a serene setting devoid of any sort of external stimulation. You’re enveloped in complete silence in a weightless state. It’s really amazing how a few inches of water can promote total relaxation.

Tony Horton wants you to live your best life, and flotation therapy might help you do just that. Here’s a look at what flotation therapy is, and how it may benefit both the body and mind. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to embrace the experience it might just wind up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made for yourself.

What Is Flotation Therapy? 

Just about every example of flotation therapy involves what’s known as sensory deprivation. As the name implies, it means you’re in an environment sensory deprivation graphic | My Power Lifewhere there is no external stimulation of any kind – no music and no sounds, other than the gentle lapping of the water against the sides of the float tank.1

But the phrase “sensory deprivation” is off-putting to some. It might conjure up images of a scary environment that could promote feelings of anxiety or a sense of claustrophobia. So, a new name was created, one that might not be as intimidating: Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique, or REST.2

REST typically works like this: You enter a flotation tank filled with a high concentration of saltwater or water with magnesium sulfate. There is neither light nor sound, and the water is about body temperature. Sound relaxing? REST has shown to be effective in helping to ease stress, support an improved mood, and support quality sleep.3

What To Expect When You Visit A Flotation Center

Now, there is no “one size fits all” method to how to run a flotation center. Different centers have different approaches. You might enter one of these areas and see a round tank with soothing lights coming from the inside. It might not even be called a “tank.” It might be referred to as a “pod” instead.4

There’s a good chance the “float room” will contain the tank as well as a shower. You’ll likely be asked to take a shower before you get into the tank to help ensure cleanliness for all users. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to go float in the nude. Once you dip yourself into the water, your session will probably last somewhere around an hour to an hour and a half.5

You really don’t have to do anything while you’re floating. In fact, you’re actually encouraged not to do – or think – about anything but the experience itself. All you need to do is let yourself relax completely, and leave all your stress and worry on the outside of the pod. But there’s really no right or wrong way to experience flotation therapy. Do whatever works for you.6

Total Relaxation: How Can Flotation Therapy Help Relax The Muscles And Mind?

Research suggests that flotation therapy helps soothe muscles and relax your mind. In fact, one study found that people who experienced 90-minute flotation sessions felt a heightened sense of creativity afterward.7Another study found that REST therapy could help support mood and overall feelings of optimism.8

Type Of Water In Floating Therapy: Fresh Water, Salt Water, Or Even Water With Magnesium Sulfate

flotation tank | My Power LifeFlotation tanks typically contain water filled with Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate. People have taken Epsom salt baths for hundreds of years in order to help with issues such as muscle pain. The combination of salt and water makes it very buoyant, which is the reason you float on top of the water rather than sink.9

The magnesium in the salt is supposed to support muscle function and help you relax. More likely, though, it’s the warmth of the water and the sense of weightlessness that help ease tension.10

Body And Mind: Can This Mental Stimulation Technique Help To Support Overall Health?

Researchers have not only looked at the potential benefits of flotation therapy for the mind, but also for the body. They’ve come up with some interesting findings – particularly in the areas of headaches, insomnia, and joint discomfort. Here’s a brief look at what they found.

  • Headaches – Researchers looked at whether flotation therapy could help people suffering from frequent tension headaches. According to the results of the four-week study, the participants suffered 57 percent fewer headaches for as long as six months after undergoing flotation therapy.11
  • Insomnia – Participants in a 12-week study analyzing the effect of REST therapy on insomnia experienced were able to get to sleep faster for up to three months afterward.12
  • Joint Discomfort – Flotation therapy showed impressive results in people suffering from pain in their joints. The study participants reported that their decrease in discomfort lasted for up to two weeks.13

Can Flotation Therapy Melt Away Your Stress?

Cortisol is an important hormone. It helps regulate your metabolism, and it also helps ensure that your immune system continues to work properly. But cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone.” If you have a high concentration of cortisol, that can affect your ability to not only sleep but also to function normally. It can even affect your problem solving and decision making.14

However, there’s evidence that flotation therapy may help keep your cortisol levels under control. Researchers found that people who participated in a study involving REST sessions saw an average decrease in cortisol of nearly 22 percent.15

Thinking Of Giving Flotation Therapy A Try? Things To Keep In Mind 

woman and flotation pod | My Power LifeIn the vast majority of instances, flotation centers are extremely well kept. They’re meticulously cleaned throughout the day, and steps are continually taken to ensure the safety and health of users. Many systems, for example, use ultraviolet (UV) disinfection systems, which are very good at killing any potentially dangerous microorganisms.16

But while it’s amazing how a few inches of water can contribute so powerfully to wellness, that doesn’t mean flotation therapy is for everyone. For example, you should never enter a flotation tank under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, people with certain health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems, heart issues, or skin conditions, should not get into a tank.17

Do a little research on different flotation centers in your area to make sure they employ the highest standards of sanitization. Make sure they require users to shower before entering a tank and make sure they filter the water at least three times a day. Also, check to see that they clean the tank thoroughly on a regular basis.18

Also, talk to your doctor before starting flotation therapy. You’ll want to make sure you don’t have any health conditions that could present any sort of risk. Once you get the okay, get ready to relax in a way you may never have previously experienced.

Learn More:

Healthy Daily Habits To Include In Your Daily Routine

How Important Is Nutrition When It Comes To Overall Fitness?

Exercises For Your Body And Mind: Try These Ultimate Yoga Poses


Sources:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796691/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219027/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219027/
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancasalonga/2018/07/25/what-to-expect-on-your-first-time-in-a-float-pod/#1a448d9e3e41
5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancasalonga/2018/07/25/what-to-expect-on-your-first-time-in-a-float-pod/#1a448d9e3e41
6. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-08-11/should-you-try-flotation-therapy
7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494487800312
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219027/
9. https://www.bicycling.com/training/a19610415/does-flotation-therapy-work/
10. https://www.bicycling.com/training/a19610415/does-flotation-therapy-work/
11. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4613-9701-4_15
12. https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0098140
13. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207148208407380
14. https://thesleepdoctor.com/2020/03/24/cortisol-and-its-effects-on-your-sleep/
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1864782
16. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/E/2016/eb-floatation-tanks.pdf?la=en
17. https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Floatation-tanks
18. https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Floatation-tanks