Float tank therapy is one of the most interesting ways to relax and unwind.
And it's becoming increasingly popular.
It's also commonly referred to as a sensory deprivation tank or isolation tank.
In fact, I've seen flotation tank therapy spots opening up across the world. It's a huge movement.
But what is float tank therapy? How does it work? And what are the benefits?
Here's everything you need to know about float tank therapy...
What Is A Float Tank?
A float tank - also known as a sensory deprivation tank - is the experience of floating in a tank filled with salt water.
As you lay there, you’re sat in complete darkness in about 12 inches of water. The water is combined with epsom salt, meaning you can float as you lie on your back.
By the way, this isn’t like lying in the ocean…
How Float Tanks Work
Whilst you lie in the water, the epsom makes the water nearly 10 times more buynat than the ocean/sea water.
The water and air is heated to the same temperature as your skin, so whilst you float some claim that you feel like you’re floating in ‘thin air’.
This is combined with the fact that you’re lying very still in the water - your body barely moves.
It was originally created by John Lilly in 1953, although float tanks have suddenly boomed over the last few years as the technology has developed.
Plus more research has been released that studies the benefits of float tanks - and they effects they may have on the body.
I’ve covered these studies later in this guide.
Why Do People Use Float Tank Therapy?
Why would people want to experience a float tank?
Well, I’ll come on to the science later but mainly because the experience is:
Useful for stress relief and relaxation
Gives people an opportunity to take from reality (and their phones!)
How Long Does Float Tank Therapy Take?
So how long does it take to enjoy the benefits of a float tank?
Well, it depends on the person and what you’re comfortable with.
Some people state that 1-2 hours is the sweet spot, but if you don’t have time for that then 30 minutes could do.
Why Use Float Tank Therapy For Relaxation?
Float tanks are perfect for relaxation because you’re immersed within:
You float in epsom salt water
The water is heated to the same temperature as your skin
The other interesting thing is that people often report gaining more pleasure from the float tank experience as they spend more time in the tank.
This could mean that the benefits of float tanks are compounded as you gain more experience.
So why might this be?
People become more comfortable the more time they spend in the tank
This deeper sense of consciousness may be something people find easier to tap into the more they experience it
What Is Float Tank Therapy?
As a way to disconnect from stress, float therapy has become very popular.
This is the method of using float tanks to completely relax and switch off from the world.
Research is being conducted to discover how float therapy could potentially treat:
How To Get Started With Float Tank Therapy?
Just like having a life coach, psychological therapist or regular meditation sessions, the more you use float therapy, the more you can potentially benefit.
As you have more float therapy sessions, people often learn how to achieve deeper levels of relaxation.
But that also means there’s a learning curve.
This isn’t something your mind is going to adapt to straight away - for many, it may be the first time they’ve been awake and purposely away from technology for months!
Also, on a physical level your body has to adjust: After all, you’re confined in a tank. So you need to find the sweet spot for your neck and arms.
This takes a little getting used to. Often users might not experience the full relaxation benefits of a float tank until their third or fourth session.
Psychedelic Effects Of Float Tank Therapy
Some users of float tanks have even reported achieving an unusual psychedelic state after spending time in a float tank - in the same that meditation might take you to a higher level of consciousness.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, because with float tanks you’re away from all the distractions of usual life.
And because you’re floating in salt water, you can feel weightless - meaning your brain is detached from all your physical senses. As you can imagine, this is something we rarely experience in everyday life!
Users of float tanks have even reported that they feel like they’re flying through infinity - as if they’re body is just gliding through the air.
This is mainly because you’re floating in a dark tank where your body is the same temperature as your skin, creating a weightlessness effect.
Benefits Of Float Tank Therapy
It’s undeniable, we’re more distracted than ever.
Think of your brain like a computer, with a limited amount of processing power.
The more these tiny distractions drain our focus, the less processing power we have.
And the less effective we can process our thoughts, the more we’re going to struggle to make critical decisions or solve certain problems in our life.
Now the problem is, those interruptions drain our mental resources.
Social media. Emails. WhatsApp messages. These are all things that disrupt your pattern of thinking, to the point where unless you switch off completely, you may struggle to make the right decisions in life.
So coming back to float tank therapy:
Float tanks give us the space, time and mental clarity to truly contemplate and reflect on those complex problems we have in our life - and how to solve them.
Here’s a few examples:
How to grow your business
What goals you really want out of life
How to solve a problem at home or related to your family
Understanding and processing certain events in your life that you’ve never had the time or focus to truly breakdown
I love this.
Ever heard of the law of attraction?
Or how visualizing your future success can actually change your behaviour and subconscious thoughts?
Yes, I know - it does sound a little ‘Mystic Meg’.
But this is the same technique that incredibly successful people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carey and Conor McGregor have all claimed has been a vital part of their success.
Anyway, I digress…
The reason I bring this up is that when there’s background noise, or the temptation of your phone, you’re going to struggle to truly visualize and harness the law of attraction.
But that’s how a float tank can help you:
Float tanks are so powerful for internalizing certain things - whether that’s an affirmation, a visualization or even practicing a speech.
Getting Some Headspace
It’s almost a form of minimalism, where you’re creating more ‘headspace’ in your mind to focus on what’s truly important in your life.
And sometimes thinking about less things, allows us to focus our energy and avoid diluting our processing power. For example:
Do you want to spend your time thinking about a million one things, feeling overwhelmed and struggling to really process any of that information properly?
Or would you rather have total and utter focus on the most important areas of your life, and invest your utmost attention and energy towards achieving success in those areas?
For me, and 90% of people, it’d be point B.
And that’s why I’m always trying to make ‘more room’ in my life - whilst reducing the amount of things I have to think about.
So in a floatation tank, I can truly hone in on that area of my life.
Because there’s so much salt in a float tank, your skin actually absorbs magnesium via the water.
So it doesn’t just feel good but this can improve your skin and helps your body absorb vital minerals too!
Float tanks have become closely linked to relaxation.
And many people find they’re a great way to relax and relieve stress.
From meditation to float tanks, everyone needs some ‘me time’.
But can you genuinely remember the last time you spent an hour or more without any interruptions?
We live in a strange age:
Where we’re flooded with information. Emails. Advertisements. And notifications.
But as X revealed in his book ‘Deep Work’, having a long time to reflect and focus is one of the best ways to increase our productivity and reflect on what we truly want from life.
And that’s why float tanks are so powerful:
They give us the time we need - without any sensory interruptions - to sit alone and be with our own thoughts.
It’s a beautiful way to heal ourselves.
Whilst float tanks aren’t directly related to anti-aging, stress levels are.
In fact, studies show that the higher your cortisol levels, the more your skin is going to age. So it’s important to find easy way to relax, such as a float tank.
Optimise Your Session
The other thing is that the settings for a float need to be just right.
For example, if you have a home float tank then you need to make sure there’s the right amount of Epsom Salt in the tank and that the water temperature is correct.
Otherwise, you’re not going to enjoy the optimal environment for total relaxation.
How To Benefit From Float Tank Therapy
I’ll be totally honest with you:
It took me a lot of practice to really optimise my float tank experiences.
And at first, I just couldn’t switch off. My mind was used to being constantly stimulated - which may explain why so many of us struggle with stress.
But with a bit of experience, you’ll see a huge difference in your float therapy experiences.
So how can you make the most of your float therapy sessions?
Here’s a few tips...
Leave Your Expectations At The Door
No pun intended here 🙂
Like I mentioned before, you have to be ready to adjust both your mental and physical state to float tanks.
That takes patience.
And an open mind too!
So wait until your 3rd or 4th session before you make any judgements.
The relaxation effect of a float tank compounds - and the more you do it, the more rewards you’ll reap from it.
So don’t let yourself feel disappointed if after the first session, you don’t quite ‘get it’.
Make The Most Of Your Time
Sure, you want to relax whilst you’re in the tank.
But why not use that level of relaxation to gain insight into some of your biggest challenges...and ambitions?
Just like how meditation can help us shed light on what’s bothering us, a float tank has a lot to offer too.
Some of my most creative ideas are developed through the use of a float tank. I seem to tap into a deeper more flow state where I can see with more clarity.
A lot of the thoughts I had that were foggy tend to be clearer and easier to articulate once I’ve achieved this state.
So use your time in the float tank productively, rather than just waiting for the session to end.
Avoid Eating Or Drinking Before Your Session
You might be able to get away with it in the pool…
But never pee in the tank folks! When you’re floating, you want to feel as comfortable as possible so avoid drinking alcohol, eating heavy or over hydrating before jump in.
Otherwise you might feel a little uncomfortable after an hour or so.
OK, so you’ve had your tank session. You’re feeling inspired. You’ve gained a mind-blowing insight into some of your deepest goals and challenges.
I’ll warn you now:
Don’t let that magic go!
Try to reflect on what you’ve learned, preferably soon after the session. Jot down your thoughts on a notepad. Make some actionable steps.
Do whatever it takes to turn your thoughts inside the float tank into some incredible actions outside.
Do this and you’ll see 10X more results from your sessions! Plus it’ll make you look forward to the next one even more.
Uses Of Float Tank Therapy
But how else have float tanks been developed for therapy?
Let's explore a few of the main ways...
More blood circulation: as you relax in a float tank, more blood can flow through your body. Healthier blood circulation is associated with muscle tissue repair.
Athletics: From MMA fighters to long distance runners, float tanks have been used by athletes to boost energy, increase rest and reduce body fatigue.
Pain Relief: Arthritis, backache and migraines have all been treated via float tanks, and even chronic pain conditions too. As the mind relaxes, pain relief tends to drop too.
Immune System: When we’re stressed, our immune systems drop due to high levels of cortisol. Relaxing in a float tank can therefore help to fight immune system problems.
Healing The Body: Float tanks may even bring higher levels of internal homeostasis, as the body relaxes, reduces stress and minimises body fatigue.
Float Tank Therapy For Anxiety & Depression
Sensory deprivation has been used for thousands of years as a way of enhancing mental clarity.
Float tanks is the technological answer to modern sensory deprivation.
Unfortunately, over the last few years anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. Some have stated this is due to the advancement of technology, along with financial, relationship and career related problems.
Whatever the cause, float tanks are becoming incredibly popular.
Float tanks may be becoming increasingly popular because they’re a natural way to treat anxiety and depression - without relying on prescription medicine.
Plus they’re an easy way to shut out ‘digital distractions’. Float tanks shut out external stimulations.
Often it’s easy to shut out the things we don’t want to think - or the underlying issues that trouble us - with technology.
But if they’re serious problems, then our mind often relays them on a subconscious level. With a float tank, you have no external stimuli to distract yourself from your problems. Instead, you have to address them!
That in itself is a form of therapy, because in a float tank you can focus on what’s bothering you - and how to fix these issues.
Interestingly, floating doesn’t completely deprive your senses.
Instead, it’s helping sensory enhancement.
Because it helps you tune into your body’s physical elements - such as your pulse, heartbeat and breathing.
These are things that we often tune out when we’re in the real world, because they’re easily ignored and filtered out.
Float Tank Therapy & Meditation
Meditation and float tanks can compliment each other nicely.
Well, in a float tank the water is the same temperature as your skin - and there’s an element of sensory deprivation.
Obviously, your senses aren’t completely numbed:
But they are minimised significantly more so than when you’re outside a float tank.
This means you can focus on being more mindful of your thoughts, without being distracted by your physical senses.