What was once the fodder for science fiction films like 1980’s Altered States is now a “profoundly relaxing spa experience” that offers a wealth of health benefits. Barnes visited Atlanta’s Floasis and talked about his experience on the show.
Float therapy (also known as sensory deprivation therapy) has been around since the mid-1950s, but, with the current quest for the ultimate in self-care and stress reduction, it has definitely increased in popularity and accessibility.
The first flotation tank was designed by American physician and neuroscientist John C. Lilly in 1954. His hopes were that he could better examine the origins of consciousness by cutting off all external stimuli. Float therapy has gone from the research facility to a luxurious spa setting at facilities like Floasis. The tanks at Floasis are filled with over 200 gallons of body temperature water, which contains 1200 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt which is dissolved in the 12-inch-deep tank, making the water solution 3 times more buoyant than The Dead Sea, ensuring that anyone can experience the gravity-free sensation.
Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, has its own benefits for health and well-being. Maintaining adequate magnesium levels helps with sleep issues and stress management because it has been shown to help the brain produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress. Magnesium may also help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Athletes have long turned to Epsom salt to help reduce pain, swelling, muscle soreness and cramps after exercise. So, as you can see, float therapy has a lot to offer besides a cool new way to unwind.
Once you shed your clothing to get into the tank, you will be able to shed the distractions of the outside world, as you relax in the warm, soothing water. You will gradually feel as if you’re floating in space and your mind will go into a meditative state.
Float therapy offers a wide range of benefits including muscle relaxation, better sleep, pain relief, and decreased stress and anxiety. A 2018 NIH study showed that a single one-hour session in a sensory deprivation tank was capable of a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood in the 50 participants with stress- and anxiety-related disorders. Some find that floating in the tank helps boost creativity and the relaxing sessions can even help mothers-to-be to alleviate some of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy. It’s recommended that newbies try out a few sessions (which are generally between 60-90 minutes long) and, if it works for them, to come once or twice a month to see the best results.
If you have ever been curious about float therapy, or just need to treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation and meditation, now is the perfect time to seek out a facility near you and let your worries float away.