Self-care and wellness is a pretty massive industry these days and with that comes a lot of hype. Every day it seems there’s a new health craze, the latest superfood, or a bizarre new workout trend (hello, goat yoga..!). Sometimes, sifting out what is the real thing from something that’s here-today-gone-tomorrow can be difficult.
One of the most intriguing new wellness trends that have caught our attention this year is flotation therapy — fast becoming one of the most popular treatments for both mental and physical health. Thankfully, this is one trend that seems to have a real basis in health research; growing scientific evidence suggests a link between time spent floating in a sensory deprivation tank and a pretty impressive list of benefits including stress relief, insomnia relief, injury recovery, and improved hair and skin health.
So, what’s the deal with these pods of water people are spending hours in?
What is a Sensory Deprivation Tank?
The tank is a closed pod, filled with water, heated to body temperature. The water is very salty, thanks to a high concentration of Epsom Salts. There is no light and there is no sound, so sensory stimulation is practically zero.
Much like in the Dead Sea, the magnesium and sulfate-rich Epsom salts raise the density and buoyancy of the water, increasing the specific gravity for the solution to around 1.27. So, for around an hour (more if you like), you just float.
But, Epsom Salts aren’t only amazing for their buoyancy. For hundreds of years, Epsom Salts have been used as an effective cure-all with benefits including stress relief along with easing aches and pains.
What happens in there?
People accustomed to the tank will typically fall into a deeply relaxed meditative state, emerging with a wide range of reported experiences including a heightened sense of reflection, a release of tension, and the feeling that you have left your body entirely. Your experience, however, will likely be unique and could differ from anyone else’s.
What if I don’t like enclosed spaces?
Hopping in an enclosed tank can definitely take some getting used to at first, and claustrophobia can be a huge barrier for some people. But, using this therapy can actually be a really successful way of overcoming these fears. The knowledge that the pods do not lock shut, that the lid lifts with the slightest prod, and that you can hop out whenever you like, can be enough to comfort for some. But for anyone who suffers from the debilitating fear, it might be wise to consult a health professional before proceeding.
How often can you float?
While it’s perfectly safe to float every day, the effects of each session last beyond a day or two. If this is something you try and love, it is recommended that two or three sessions a week is often the most effective amount of time spent in the tank.