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Floatation Tanks and Sensory Deprivation Therapy

Science or Hogwash?

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What is sensory deprivation therapy?



Have you experienced what’s it like to be in a floatation tank? Are you familiar with sensory deprivation therapy? It may sound like a form of torture, but actually it’s not. So, relax.


Sensory deprivation therapy has been around for some time now. Basically, it’s a type of therapy initially recommended by psychologists to provide deep mental relaxation and relief from stress. Fortunately, you can use a better, more conventional (and less chilly) term like REST. REST stands for restricted environmental stimulation therapy. Cool, huh? Wait, there’s more.


man-floating-in-a-sensory-deprivationThere are two types of REST therapy, floatation REST, and chamber REST where you lie on a bed within a soundproof, dark chamber. But as the title of this article suggests, we’re going to deal with floatation REST. In floatation REST, your body is suspended in a sound and light proof floatation tank filled with buoyant liquid. So, now you will ask the questions…

What are floatation tanks? How do they work?



As you have probably deduced by now, floatation REST happens inside floatation tanks. These tanks were traditionally called sensory attenuation tanks, float tanks, and sensory deprivation tanks. Now, they’re often known as REST tanks.


If you have a constant fear of drowning when you’re in the water, Don’t Worry. You will not be submerged, only floated. Below is an explanation of how floatation tanks work.

  • The Epsom salt in the water allows your body to float more because of the increase in water density. Also, the Epsom salts are heated to body temperature to dampen your sense of touch. The boundary between your skin and the water gradually disappears and your sense of orientation goes out the window.

  • Even your sense of relative positions of neighbouring body parts is gone. It’s like you’re just a floating head.

  • You use earplugs to drown out the noise and keep the water out (goodbye sense of hearing).

  • The absence of light diminishes your sense of vision. It’s really dark inside a floatation tank.

  • The absence of chlorine in the water makes your sense of smell fade away.
    beautiful-woman-thinking-many-ideas-and

Almost all possible external stimuli reaching your wandering and wondering brain are removed. What happens then? Well, your mighty brain now creates its own set of stimuli. But this time, they’re all internal stimuli. This is where one of the greatest benefits of REST is obtained. That’s creative thinking.

More Benefits of Floatation REST


  1. Get the creative juices flowing. As mentioned before, the absence of external stimuli forces your brain to come up with its own stimuli. As a consequence, when you get out of the tank, you may experience a surge of creative ideas.

  2. Perform better in sports and music. Athletes and musicians can also benefit from floatation tanks because it stimulates and prepares their brains for activities which demand higher levels of concentration and visual-fine motor coordination.

  3. relax-or-stress

  4. Stress relief. Free your mind from stress and everything bothering you. Floatation REST releases tension from your muscles and allows your mind to fully relax. Some studies have used floatation REST to successfully alleviate some of the symptoms associated with conditions like hypertension, insomnia, arthritis, and even fibromyalgia. Even your stress hormones bow down to floatation REST and decrease their levels.

  5. Relief from chronic pain. People who suffer from chronic pain may benefit from floatation REST. People who have tried this method claimed that their pain significantly lessened and they were able to sleep well with less anxiety.

  6. Heighten your concentration and focus. After an hour in a floatation tank, your brain tends to focus and concentrate better because it was able to recharge its batteries and have time out.

Your Brain Waves while Inside the Floatation Tank



What happens to your brainwaves and activity while you’re floating in the tank? There are five kinds of waves or electrical patterns occurring in our brains. Each one of them has its own purpose and significance. For now, we shall only concern ourselves with three of them. Before you enter the floatation tank, your brainwaves are most likely in the alpha or beta range. Beta waves are involved in logical thinking and conscious thought. Alpha waves are concerned with transition from the conscious to the subconscious.

brain-waves
Towards the end of your session (while floating) your brain exhibits a third type, theta waves. These waves are involved in sleep and daydreaming. They promote deep mental and physical relaxation. This is what you experience inside a floatation tank. Theta waves help you to relax and at the same time stimulate creative thinking afterwards.

Do you try it or not?



There are some people who believe in the positive benefits of floatation REST. We suggest you give it a try for yourself to see if you may be one of them. For us and for now, it’s not really important to determine every bit of science fact to back up the claims of this form of therapy. What’s more vital is how you feel during and after your therapy. Hey, it’s meant for relaxation, both mental and physical. So try to relax and enjoy it.

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