Finding a moment to relax can be difficult, there always seems to be distractions around: work, social media, emails, kids, external noises, blue lights …
You are constantly stimulating your brain, and these constant distractions and stimulations can lead to burnout, stress or anxiety.
Even when you are meditating or doing yoga at home, you can be interrupted by small things, such as your neighbours’ dog barking.
But, you can avoid all those distractions inside a Sensory Deprivation Tank.
What is a Sensory Deprivation Tank?
A sensory deprivation tank, also known as a floating tank leaves you with minimal sensory stimulation.
The tank has no light, no sound and no gravity because it contains over half a tone of epsom salts which make you float in the water, stimulating the weightlessness of a zero-gravity environment.
The lack of external stimulation allows you to fully relax and potentially ease stress, anxiety and physical pain.
The tank normally has a rounded shape and there is enough space to lie down inside while floating in warm epsom salt infused water.
Sensory deprivation is also known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST).
REST inside a floating tank makes you create theta brain waves, which only occur naturally before and after sleep.
Within the floating tank, these brain waves occur whilst fully conscious, which allows relaxation, creativity as well as problem solving.
Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks Healthy? 23 Benefits You Should Know About
- Reduces the impact of many serious mental health issues
- Decreases both anxiety and stress
- Reduces confusion
- Decreases depression
- Increases focus
- Reduces cortisol (the primary stress hormone) levels
- Stimulates creativity
- Reduces negative emotions
- Improves sleep, relaxation and insomnia
- Increases energy (through better sleep and by increasing production of the hormone prolactin)
- Increases happiness, optimism and improves general mood
- Helps with meditation and mindfulness
- Helps with consciousness exploration and to connect with self
- Improves symptoms of chronic fatigue and burnout
- Boosts learning, creativity and problem-solving
- Enhances visualisation
- Stimulates brain growth
- People are less likely to desire to consume alcohol after floating
- Cardiovascular health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boosts cognitive performance
- Possible improved physical performance
- Decreases the perception of pain
Why Epsom Salts are Important in Floating Therapy
Magnesium is the second most abundant element in the body, it is vital for good health and well-being. However, half of the population is deficient in magnesium due to modern agriculture, erosion and poor diets.
Epsom salts in the water enable you to float effortlessly in the tank and relax. That is why it is called floating therapy, but there are many other benefits that these salts bring you.
Epsom salts contain high levels of magnesium which makes you feel rejuvenated, less anxious and your muscles will feel more relaxed with less pain.
The benefits of Magnesium and Sulphates in Epsom Salts
– Magnesium boosts serotonin (the happy hormone), which reduces levels of adrenaline and stress allowing you to feel more relaxed.
– Flushes toxins and heavy metals from your cells.
– Improves heart and circulatory health.
– Magnesium helps to absorb calcium into the bones.
– Sulphates help to create brain tissue, joint proteins, and the mucin proteins (wall proteins in the digestive tract).
What are sensory deprivation tanks like? Step by step use:
– If it is your first time using one you should arrive at least 15 minutes early to the flotation spa. This is so they can show you the facilities and how the tank works.
– You have the room to yourself, the room will contain your tank.
– Once you are alone in your room, you should remove all your clothes and jewellery.
– You will have some shelves and benches where you can leave your personal belongings.
– Have a shower with water only to eliminate your body oils. They advised me not to use any shampoo whilst showering before getting inside the tank.
– While I was using the shower, the tank began to fill up with the water.
– Once the tank is full, they play some music and there is a very low light on.
– They provide earplugs so the water does not get in your ears and a floating device to rest your head on, your head will float without it, but some prefer it for comfort.
– You will have 5 minutes with lights and music to get settled in the tank.
– Once you are inside, you can close the top door of the tank. It is similar to a sunbed, you pull down the door and you can push up slightly to open it too.
– After 5 minutes, the music and the light turns off.
– You are left inside the tanks with no light, noise, just floating in the dark for 50 minutes.
– After the session is finished the relaxing music and the low light will turn on again for another 5 minutes.
– Your hair will be wet, so after, you can have a shower after using gel and shampoo that was provided.
– You have around 15 minutes to shower and get dressed again.
– After that you should leave the room to go to the facilities where they provide hair dryers, mirrors etc.
– There is a relaxing room too where you can sit on sofas and put your feet up.
– You can also enjoy a complimentary tea choosing different flavours and grab one of the books available, most of them are about mindfulness.
Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks Sanitary?
The solution is sterilised between sessions. The facilities, shower and tank were spotlessly clean on my visit.
The tank was empty and clean when I got there and the tank started to fill in with clean and purified water and epsom salts whilst I was showering before the session.
The high quantity of Epsom Salts in the tank (more than 500kg) increases the salinity levels in the water preventing the growth of bacteria including microbes and other pathogens.
Panicking In A Floating Tank: Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks Scary Or Dangerous?
Sensory deprivation tanks are safe. It does not feel scary or dangerous because there is light and music when you get inside and this gradually turns off until it gets dark and silent.
However, the tanks are not recommended if you suffer from claustrophobia or are prone to hallucinations.
Are sensory deprivation tanks safe for pregnancy?
Pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful times of your life but it can also be a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings.
You should always check with your doctor before using a floating tank while pregnant, but it can bring many benefits to you.
If you are pregnant, sensory deprivation tanks can help with muscle pain relief, especially after the second and third trimester of your pregnancy when the extra weight bears on your back and torso.
Epsom salts help with muscle pain and the zero gravity alleviates strain on your back.
Pregnancy can cause hormonal imbalances which can affect your mood. Floating tanks reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which helps you to relax and to have a better sleep and greater emotional stability.
Floating in the tank while your baby is floating in your womb is a very unique experience as both you and your baby are feeling similar experiences, this is also known as the mirror effect.
Do You Hallucinate In a Sensory Deprivation Tank?
The effects of being in a sensory deprivation tank will be different for each person, and they may not always be positive.
Some people have experienced hallucinations in the floating tanks. Hallucinations are a distortion of reality causing people to see the world different from reality.
In a study about floating tanks and hallucinations, they divided people more prone to hallucinate and people less prone to have hallucinations into two groups. The results show that there were more hallucinations in the group of participants more prone to hallucinate. However, their hallucinations did stop once they left the tank.
When Shouldn’t You Use a Sensory Deprivation Tank?
Below are some considerations to be aware of before using a sensory deprivation tank:
● If you are prone to experiencing hallucinations and psychosis, you should avoid sensory deprivation tanks as there is an increased chance of experiencing hallucinations while using the tank.
● Check with your doctor before using floating therapy if you suffer from any medical conditions.
● You should not use a sensory deprivation tank as a substitute for scientifically supported treatment.
● Sensory deprivation tanks have positive effects but they are not a cure for any condition.
● Do not use a floating tank if you are claustrophobic as you will be inside a relatively small space in the dark in silence.
● Do not enter the floating tank under the influence of drugs, or if you are high or drunk. The chances of drowning are extremely low but not zero if you are not fully conscious.
Sensory Deprivation Tank Prices
The prices for sensory deprivation tanks in the London area for a single session range from £55-£60 per person.
There are introductory prices where you can get 3 sessions for £99 if it is your first time with that floating spa.
Flotation centres also provide memberships with different ranges of prices that will leave the single session price reduced to £35-£45 depending on the number of sessions you choose per month.
You can also buy a pack of 4 or 8 sessions that also reduces the price of each session and you will have to use those sessions within 4 or 8 months respectively.
Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks Worth it?
Reduction of stimuli is undoubtedly good for the brain, similar to the benefits of meditation, as it allows space and clarity. Also, the epsom salts have multiple benefits on your body as aforementioned.
You may not feel any effects or benefits after a single session as the effects vary from person to person, and take different amounts of time to become apparent.
That being said, some people can notice some changes with only a 60 minute session.
Personally, I felt more revitalised and sprightly after my first 60 minute session on a Friday night after work. I felt energised after the session, similar to having a good night’s sleep and waking up fresh in the morning, but without sleeping in the tank.
On the other hand, my boyfriend felt more relaxed after his first Friday night session.
You should try it if you want a break from the external world, especially from your phone and social media to get a moment with just yourself to recharge.
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