Why Is Floatation Therapy So Effective

The consensus is that floatation therapy really works. There is no doubt that floating not only has therapeutic effects but is also entertaining and educational at the same time. It’s effects are far reaching ranging from the physiological, intellectual, spiritual and emotional aspects. But, the real question is, why?

One has to consider that the float tank is basically passive in nature so what’s it all about. Fortunately, scientists have found this interesting so research is on going and many laboratories are participating. Current research is elucidating a number of effects that are apparently interrelated.

These interrelated explanations orient themselves around alpha/theta brain waves, buoyancy, right brain activation, increased vertical brain function (old and new brain communication), increase in endorphins, conscious control of every part of our body (biofeedback) and returning to homeostasis (balance). So, let’s take a look at each component and see how it contributes to the effectiveness of floatation therapy.

Calming Brain Waves

It is commonly known that during mental relaxation such as in meditation, alpha waves become prevalent and if continued one can achieve the slower theta waves. Theta waves are associated with NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep which tends to put individuals to sleep. This brain state is known for its ability to produce creative insights, vivid memories, sudden insights, free association, calmness and a sense of becoming one with everything. This state has been difficult to study because individuals tend to fall asleep. However, theta waves have been studied in Zen priests who have perfected the art of meditation and can remain awake and quite lucid. You need to consider that this type of meditation takes decades to learn how to do properly and most people are simply not going to go there. You’ll be pleased to know that theta wave research at Texas A&M has been able to demonstrate that floatation therapy has the ability to increase theta wave production quickly. Moreover, the individual remains awake as well and are fully aware of vivid imagery and thoughts they have during this theta brain state. Researchers also reported that these individuals continued to produce vivid imagery theta waves up to three weeks after their floatation session.

Epsom Salts and Buoyancy

The float tank contains water with 500 kg of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) added. This makes the water very dense and essentially makes you completely buoyant providing a weightless environment. It is believed that gravity takes up a lot of central nervous system processing to keep your body in balance and in fact it is reported to make use of 90 percent of your brain activity. Gravity pays its toll on the body with muscle tension/aches, joint pain, back, neck and shoulder pain. Your brain is constantly making adjustments to keep your body in the upright position and keep from falling over whether you are standing, sitting, running or walking. The idea is that floatation with Epsom salts frees your brain from having to process all this information because your body is self supportive at this time due to the buoyancy. Vast areas of the brain are now available to be self-reflective allowing you to perceive internal states. You not only have a lack of gravity input but you are in a soundless environment that is also dark. These external inputs have been eliminated as well. Floatation therapy removes all external input to the brain leaving your brain to concentrate on itself.

Right Brain Released (mental freedom)

Your brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. These two brains basically process the same information but they do it differently. Your left brain pays attention to detail and is analytical (sees objects). The right brain is good with general pattern recognition, very visual on a large scale, and intuitive about things (sees the surround). Our culture forces development of the left brain leaving the right brain under developed (technological society). So, the left brain tends to be dominate and interferes with right brain function. Research is finding that floatation increases right brain function. Essentially, the left brain, which is a critical brain, is inhibited and now the right brain can express itself in all of its glory. This allows for greater creativity and abstract reasoning. The right brain is less critical about things as well. The right brain is a kinder brain.

Evolution and Three Brain Development

It is believed that the brain has 3 separate functioning components that have developed through evolution. The oldest part of the brain is often referred to as the reptilian brain and it is responsible for basic control such as reproduction, feeding and resting. Then evolution added a second brain component referred to as the visceral brain (gut brain) which is supposed to be responsible for our emotions. The third brain component (newest part of brain) is often referred to as the thinking part of the brain or neocortex (means new outer part) and is responsible for cognition, abstraction, intelligence, language and consciousness. These three brain areas have different structure and chemistry. They do have some overlap in communication but it is far from sufficient. The two older components don’t exchange information well with the newest part (neocortex). This makes for conflict in various behaviors for example, unconscious versus conscious, lust versus love, animal versus civilized human, etc. At best, these 3 components are out of tune with each other and only rarely do they function properly together. Research has demonstrated that during floatation, increased internal awareness increases communications between these three brain components and allows for harmony providing for optimal brain function.

Endorphin Production is Increased

The brain makes and releases a number of neurochemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones that influence our behaviours. These neurochemicals can cause us to feel depressed, anxious, happy and/or sleepy to mention a few. Each person makes different amounts of these neurochemicals creating different mixtures of behaviours. Some people naturally produce more dopamine, serotonin and endorphins (natural opiate) which generates a sense of well being. Individuals that produce less of these neurochemicals may experience depression and get less pleasure out of life. Research has found that floatation therapy enhances the production of endorphins while at the same time reducing the production of stress neurochemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol and other stress related chemicals generate anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol.

Conscious Control Over the Body

Research tells us that we can learn how to consciously control every part of our body/brain. It was once thought that the so called involuntary functions such as amplitude and rhythm of brain waves, smooth muscle contraction, blood pressure and so called healing were out of our control. Biofeedback works everywhere (voluntary and involuntary) and if you concentrate (focus) on changing something that is involuntary, you will alter it and this effects other systems as well. Biofeedback simply means that biological pathways form loops that feed back on themselves. Now, imagine you’re in a float tank and your senses are being deprived of all external inputs (such as sound, light and gravity). This is when deep relaxation sets in and endorphins are released. This allows any internal physical/mental sensations to be magnified if you so desire. You have complete control throughout your entire system simply because there are no external distractions. You can alter biological function at will.

Biological Balance is Restored

Your system (body and brain) monitor and regulate internal functions and try to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis simply means maintaining a narrow range of function. For example, blood pH should be maintained around 7.35 but the system can operate between 7.3 and 7.4. Once blood pH drifts from 7.35, the buffering system in blood restores the proper pH and does so fairly quickly. This is the idea of maintaining balance. Because we eat a lot processed foods (fast foods) and eat meat, our blood pH often runs on the acidic side (7.3 or below) bringing us to acidosis. This is an unhealthy state. Unhealthy states can occur in the brain as well with an imbalance of neurotransmitters. Any imbalance can be thought of as a stress situation and needs to be brought back into balance (homeostasis). All kinds of balance (body and brain) can be restored with floatation therapy. Since your senses have been deprived of all external input, your body/brain can devote all of its efforts to bringing back proper balance throughout your system.

Floatation Therapy and Athletes

Floating is not just a new trend or fad but rather it is finding its way into mainstream. Doctors, chiropractors, athletes and private citizens are taking advantage of all the health benefits that floatation has to offer. Recently, the New England Patriots, Cubs, Dodgers, Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans have bought their own tanks and installed them in their training facilities. Floatation has become a big item for sports recovery and why not. Consider the incredible benefits of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) for relieving aches and pains in muscle tissue and joints along with its ability to reduce inflammation. The gravityless environment allows the whole body to completely relax with no pressure points which eliminates muscle tension. This allows for an accelerated whole body recovery from serious physical activity. This enables professional athletes to achieve peak performance quickly because the recovery rate has increased from a number of days to simply a few hours. Moreover, sports research has demonstrated that floatation therapy relaxation increases athletic coordination, speed, strength and stamina. Floatation also brings about a sense of calmness and mindfulness which leads to an increase in confidence and mental focus. Visualization has been a common practice with certain athletes for game preparation and to create a mental state for success. Floatation therapy accelerates this process by creating vivid visualizations in the theta state which occurs easily and rapidly.

Whether you are the average person, athlete or professional athlete, floatation therapy can greatly enhance the quality of your life both physically and mentally. If you are a person who has medical issues such as chronic pain, addictions, depression, anxiety and/or high blood pressure, floating can help restore healthy biological balance. The nice thing is that this therapy requires very little of the you and has no known side effects.

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What You Should Do After A Floatation Therapy Session

There is no better way to experience deep relaxation than with floatation therapy. This is an incredibly luxurious way to rid oneself of all the stress we experience in our daily routines. Floating in water that is skin temperature and filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts provides for a complete mental and physical detoxification like no other therapy. You’ll have the opportunity to experience deep relaxation in your very own private space (floatation pod) that provides for the ultimate escape. Whether this is the first time for you or perhaps you have visited a float spa many times, there is something you need to consider when your float session is done. At the end of your float, you will feel as if you are waking up from a deep, restful nap. You’ll have a sense of well being and under control.

However, the last thing you want to do is get back into your car and speed away to get back to work. Doing so cuts your relaxation therapy short and prevents you from getting the most out of your session. So, don’t rush off to what ever is next on your agenda but rather take your time and ease back into reality again slowly. Listed below are some simple things that you can do after your float that will help you ease back into your routine. Most float spas have a post-float area for all the enjoy so take advantage of this resource.

How To Ease Back Into Reality After A Floatation Session

  • Continue Meditating – Take your time after leaving your therapy to reflect back on what you were thinking and allow yourself to gradually return to your normal waking self. This allows for a transition between a sleep state in gamma/theta waves back to beta waves where you are fully functional and can perform various tasks. Just sit, relax and mentally rehash your experience. If you have a journal with you, you might consider writing down your experience so you can reflect in detail at a later time. We quite often forget parts of our experiences so writing them down ensures that you have them for all of time. This is also a good way to keep a record of your progress in floatation therapy. This can help you project what you want to do in future sessions. This makes the most out of each of your sessions.

  • Enjoy a Beverage – Many float spas offer herbal teas and/or smoothies of some type. What better way to get back your physical and mental self than sipping a warm cup of herbal tea that is full of powerful antioxidants or perhaps a high protein or fruit/veggie smoothie. If the spa doesn’t have your favorite, then simply bring your own. Consider green, white or red teas and simply sit back and relax. This relaxation time after your floatation will allow your session to last longer throughout the rest of your day. Some individuals find that taking an additional 15 minutes to half an hour of relaxation after a float works wonders and makes for a smooth transition. If others are in the after-float area, you might want to quietly exchange experiences with them to broaden horizons. You might be able to pick up some different meditation techniques.

  • Try Some Yoga – Since you are deeply relaxed at the moment (body and mind), this would be a good time to try out some Yoga if you’re familiar with it. Best not to do anything too vigorous but a gentle form of stretching is perfect. If you’re not familiar with Yoga, just do some simple back and leg stretches slowly. Again, this will extend your floatation therapy into the rest of the day and perhaps into the next day. The more you float, the longer the health benefits last.

  • Walking – Walking is another way to gradually reconnect with reality again. As a post-float exercise, this can be done outside where you will be exposed to sights and sounds. These typical external inputs that you were deprived of before, will bring you back to beta waves were you become fully functional again and ready to perform various tasks that you do in working mode. This can be done after light stretching exercise inside (or this can be done outside). Just make sure that your walking is done slowly and allows your muscles to re-acclimate. Hopefully, there is a lake or nature trail close to the float spa that you can use. Experiencing nature should help to keep anxiety at bay and continue your positive mood. If a park or nature trail is not available, just continue to do slow muscle stretches in the after-float room.

So, it is important to gradually reconnect with reality after a float session. This not only makes the transition gentle but also allows the health benefits from floatation therapy to last longer. You can make use of the after-float lounge to continue meditating, sip on a beverage such as hot herbal tea or smoothie, perform some slow stretch exercises and/or take a walk. It’s a good idea to allow 15 minutes to half an hour extra for a post-float adjustment.

The science and story behind Floatation Therapy

Although not a new method of treatment, floatation therapy is well known globally as an alternative treatment option for a variety of conditions. The most common of which is to improve muscular recovery and promote the easing of some psychological conditions. Many healthy people use floatation therapy to improve their cognitive function and promote benefits such as increases in concentration, creativity and learning.

The therapy developed during the 1950’s when American, Dr John C. Lilly pioneered the research and was himself a first participant in the study of floatation therapy. At the time it was called sensory deprivation or simply isolation, with the tanks being called isolation tanks or sensory deprivation chambers. These names tended to promote fear rather than the idea of health and healing, so these terms were later replaced by the term REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique). The modern day term is floatation therapy, and the tanks are known as floatation tanks.

From the beginning, the theory behind the treatment has been the same, to remove an individual’s detection of senses and observe any potential side effects or benefits. To achieve this, floatation therapy is conducted within a sealed and soundproof tank, with an Epsom salt concentration of 525kg Magnesium Sulfate and water to form a 1000 litre solution. This solution is warmed to exactly 35.5 degrees Celsius. This is the average temperature of the skin and human body, and removes the ability to detect the water during the experience. Many modern tanks contain a light, which can be turned on or off from within the tank. For the full experience it is highly recommended to undertake the therapy in complete darkness, as once accustomed to the tank and the floatation, produces a complete state of sensory deprivation, an experience which many report as feeling like one is floating effortlessly in space.

The exact concentration of Epsom salt and water are added to exactly offset the weight of the human body, hence the term floating in space is almost identical to the experience one would have in an anti-gravity environment.

Floatation benefits for muscular recovery

Following exercise or muscular strain, the natural responses of the body produce a range of chemicals, signalling the fact muscle injury has been sustained. Although natural, this response can inhibit recovery times, as the body enters into a protective phase before beginning recovery and repair of muscular and joint tissue.

The chemical signals which inhibit the repair process are known as Cortisol, ACTH, Lactic Acid and Adrenaline. The effects of these chemical signals can last long after the initial stressful event (following exercise or initial injury).

Studies on individuals following floatation sessions have shown a reduction in the release of these stress signals, while increasing the release of endorphins, greatly reducing the response to pain and injury, hence allowing the recovery process to commence.

Athletes report an increase in athletic performance following using a floatation tank. Effects on the body’s functions have shown a reduction of blood pressure, slower and more stable heart beat rhythm as well as an improvement in overall oxygen uptake and utilisation of oxygen efficiently within the body.

Psychological benefits of floatation therapy

Neuroscience has identified four main brainwave states which we experience throughout each day. These are known as Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. When awake throughout a typical day, the brain normally operates within the Beta state, which is detectable by brain wave signals of between 12Hz and 38Hz. When the brain is about to sleep, or just waking following sleep, the brain waves associated with this period are known as Alpha waves, which operate between 8Hz and 12Hz. Theta waves operate between 4Hz and 7Hz. They are known as the pre-sleep state and provide the most beneficial mental processes for psychological and physical recovery. This state is associated with a deep relaxation and hypnotic state of consciousness, where the brain is not in absolute sleep, however proceeds towards non-detection of the senses. This state is the most beneficial to mend the body and reset the mind. Once in a deep sleep, the brain waves are known as Delta, with a range of 0.2Hz and 3Hz.

Floatation tank usage within an environment of complete sensory deprivation, is known to produce long periods of Theta brain wave states, much longer than one would normally experience while sleeping. This phase is associated with release of endorphins and the entering of the body into a state of hypnosis, where by thought processes are altered although the body is still awake. The psychological benefits and physical benefits of prolonged rest within the Theta state are the key behind the benefits seen in floatation therapy.

Regular use of floatation therapy (3 sessions or more) have shown to improve the synchronisation of both the left and right sides of the brain, promoting a sense of mental clarity, improved learning, improved creativity and an improved alertness to both psychological processes within the mind and observations in the external world.

Research from floatation therapy sessions show dramatic decreases in anxiety, stress, depression and negative thought processes, with increases in areas such as optimism, energy levels and a positive mental state.

What to expect when seeking to partake in floatation therapy

When seeking out a floatation therapy provider, the types of tank often make a big difference, as does the maintenance and proper function of the tank in terms of salt concentrations and water heat maintenance. If the tank feels too hot, some prefer to open the entrance of the tank slightly to allow some colder external air to flow in. This is usually not a problem provided the company you choose has dedicated features, such as completely enclosed floatation rooms, where by you can turn off the light within the room, allowing the tank to remain slightly open without upsetting the sensory deprivation benefits of a no light environment. If an individual finds the tank too cold, it is recommended to remain within the tank with the top closed for at least 15 minutes, as the heat of the water in the enclosed space will begin to humidify the air to around the same temperature of the salt water solution.

When you first enter a floatation session, it often takes individuals around 15 minutes to completely calm the mind down to a theta type state. The novelty of the first float may take some adjustment, as you learn how to keep your body still without floating into the sides of the tank. You may also take some time to find the most comfortable floating position. After the first session, most people show noticeable and reported benefits, however the full benefits are often not completely felt until after the third session.

Professional floatation therapy providers often supply customers with a fully enclosed floatation room, giving complete privacy, allowing for both the room and tank to be completely free from light, and contain a shower which you can use before and after the session. Ear plugs should be fitted before showering, as they can be difficult to place in your ears if they are wet. Ear plugs must be used to prevent salt from entering the ears. Other parts of the body are fine however you will need to shower following your session to remove the Epsom salt. If you have any small cuts or rashes, apply some petroleum jelly to those areas to prevent them stinging. The Epsom salt solution is extremely beneficial to the skin, so if you can put up with a slight stinging for the first 10 minutes of your session, you may prefer to go without applying petroleum jelly. Most providers will supply you with ear plugs and petroleum jelly to use in the floatation rooms.

It is imperative to avoid caffeine, tobacco and other stimulants for at least two hours prior to a flotation session.

Most people prefer a one-hour session to begin with, and may opt for further one hour or two hour session following this. Individuals wishing to maximise their individual experience can arrange for a custom session of four or more hours, as is used by many professional athletes following an intense series of training, along with those wishing to obtain an experience of absolute peak mental performance.

The Magic of Floatation Therapy

Floatation therapy is anything but new, the decades old therapy has gained traction towards the health benefits that can be derived from it by users that range from mood enhancement and lowering blood pressure right up to easing symptoms of anxiety and depression and elevating dopamine and endorphins levels.

According to the latest in research with regards to floatation therapy users practically turn down or in some cases completely shut down anxiety in the brain which has a direct impact on the human body to remedy itself internally on its own. Research also reveals that floatation therapy is effective in the following areas:

  • Enhancing levels of creativity significantly

  • Sportsmen and women have found that frequent use of floatation tanks enhances their performance on the field

  • Reduces stress significantly and recommended for stress management as floatation reduces cortisol levels exponentially

  • It has also been found that floatation tanks assists in treatments that involve hypnosis

  • The magnesium rich Epsom salt solution is found to alleviate skin irritation and is effective against skin disease

  • Doctors have recommended using floatation tanks to help patients to handle their habit disorders

  • It is also extremely beneficial for women who have uncomfortable bouts of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) as floatation therapy improves blood flow considerably

  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments that cause chronic pain

How it Works

Floatation involves floating in an Epsom-salt solution that contains approximately 525kg of magnesium added to water which is heated to skin temperature (35.5°C) making it impossible for your senses to differentiate which parts of the body is in the water and which parts are not. This creates an environment that is akin to the Dead Sea minus the temperature and movement which allows the user to float effortlessly on the water surface in a safe and contained environment. Users are left with a serene sense of existence whilst feeling of free and weightless.

Floatation Centres in Melbourne

There are numerous spas and health clubs that offer floatation therapy and prices as well as service levels vary significantly with some charging significantly more than others for the exact same service. Finding a suitable floatation centre that provides good service and charge reasonably can prove to be a little tricky.

One particular floatation centre that offers reasonable prices and extends excellent customer service is the Rest House Float Centre which is located in 340 South Road, Hampton East, VIC 3188, Australia. The designs of their pods are excellent and according to the user manual of the pods at the Rest House Float Centre, the float pods are specifically designed to block out not only light and tactile sensations, but also sound.

The entire spa is welcoming with service staffs that are incredibly friendly and helpful. The centre offers a discount for first time floaters at 55 dollars/ hour, otherwise its 74 dollars/ hour or 99 dollars for 2 hours (recommended). Floatation is definitely beneficial and it is something everyone should try.

Floatation therapy for anxiety

Floatation therapy has many positive benefits, the most well known however is for stress and anxiety. The fast pace of the modern lifestyle can make it difficult for us to find time and places for mental rest and recovery, this is one of the main reasons floatation therapy is becoming so popular.

When resting at home, we often have to fight against things such as neighbours, traffic noise, noise of appliances, noise of house-mates, etc. Having a floatation tank to visit and use for an hour or two at a time is a modern luxury and provides a setting which is unrivalled compared to any other kind of relaxation techniques.

Another major benefit of such tanks is you are able to achieve extreme levels of relaxation, without needing to understand or master and special techniques like meditation or yoga.

The above are the main reasons the popularity of floatation therapy for anxiety is growing rapidly, and with the cost of such sessions within financial reach of almost everyone, we expect the demand for use of floatation tanks for stress and anxiety relief to grow rapidly in the coming months and years ahead.

Welcome to our blog

Thanks for visiting, we hope now that you have found us this blog will bring you a wealth of information on floatation therapy and floatation tank usage. Also known as isolation tanks, floatation is a great way to both relax and treat a range of ailments, from flare ups due to sensitive skin, stress and anxiety and problems such as lower back pain, we have found that floatation therapy is highly beneficial.

We will post about some of the science behind floatation therapy, along with the positive benefits it has provided.

Feel free to take a look around the website, we hope the information provided will greatly assist you in your quest for further knowledge on this newly popular treatment.