Float therapy has been shown to have many health benefits. This article discusses some of them.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression.
Float therapy has been found effective at reducing anxiety. The experience of floating seems to regulate the over-activity seen in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls feelings of fear and anxiety. A 2018 study showed that just one-hour in a float cabin was capable of a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood in the 50 participants with stress- and anxiety-related disorders. A 2016 study found that float therapy reduced anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, irritability and fatigue.
Many studies have demonstrated that floating has positive effects on pain reduction. One study found that patients suffering from chronic muscle pain experienced a significant reduction in pain after several sessions in a float tank over a three-week period. In addition, blood levels of noradrenaline, a chemical in the body involved in pain perception, were lower after treatment.
Another study found that there was a significant reduction in pain from floating. And another study found that pain was substantially reduced in people who were not experiencing chronic pain, but had some muscle pain.
Promotes Better Sleep.
The effects of floatation therapy on sleep are well-documented [R, R, R]. People who floated for one-hour reported better quality sleep, deep relaxation and stress reduction [R].
Researchers also found that after four sessions of floating, the time it took to fall asleep was significantly improved for at least three months [R]. In addition, one study showed sleep duration significantly improved after twelve float sessions compared to the control group of patients who didn’t float [R].
Promotes Rest and Restoration.
In our daily lives our brain is constantly processing sensory input. On average, our brains process 11 million bits of information per second. Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Justin Feinstein observed how when you spend time in a floatation tank, there is no light that enters the brain and no sound. In addition, as the body lies in water heated to skin temperature, there is no tactile sensation being processed either. When floating, the brain gets a chance to stop all of those processes which are continuously working in the background. This provides an amazing opportunity for the brain to rest and restore, in what is effectively an intervention for the entire nervous system.
Improves Concentration and Focus.
There is evidence that sensory deprivation improves focus and concentration, and may also lead to clearer and more precise thinking. This has been linked to improved learning and enhanced performance in school and different career groups.
Improves Athletic Performance.
Floating therapy is popular among athletes. It has been shown to speed up recovery after intense physical training by decreasing lactate levels in the blood. In one study, researchers found that one hour in a float tank following strenuous exercise resulted in significantly lower levels of lactate (the substance that’s produced during exercise that causes soreness) and lower perceived pain compared to the group that didn’t receive post-exercise treatment in a flotation tank. Floating has also been found effective in speeding up recovery after strenuous physical training by decreasing blood lactate in a study of 24 college students. A 2016 study of 60 elite athletes also found it improved psychological recovery following intense training and competition.
According to an article published in 2014 in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, floating in a sensory deprivation tank has been found to increase originality, imagination, and intuition, which can all lead to enhanced creativity.