THE FLOAT LAB
Floating & sensory deprivation
Float has been clinically proven to help with the symptoms related with depression and has proven to be an effective treatment for depression.
Float has been clinically proven to help with the symptoms related with anxiety and has proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety.
Treatment For Sleep Disorders
Float has been clinically proven to help with the symptoms related with sleep disorders and has proven to be an effective treatment for sleep disorders.
Pain Management Treatment
Float has been clinically proven to help with the symptoms related with pain and has proven to be an effective treatment for pain management.
Magnesium Sulfate For Skin Treatment
Float has been clinically proven to benefit the body. The effects it has on healthier skin are well documented in many trials.
"Sometimes it's just better to remain silent
What are Floating & Sensory Deprivation?
“The basic idea of floating is simple. First, you minimize or completely remove the sensory input to your brain. You just shut everything off—every signal to your brain from the outside world. The goal is to create an environment that allows for greater focus, deeper meditation, and more effective thought.”
Floating & Sensory Deprivation Tank Benefits
What is Floating?
Also known as Sensory deprivation or floatation tank therapy, floating is essentially nothingness for your mind and body. It's achieved by turning off all sensory input - sight, sound, touch, smell and the pull of gravity - with the help of an isolating tank, 200 gallons of water with 800 pounds of Epsom salt at exact skin temperature, total darkness, and total silence.
Floating is a time out, a trip off the grid - away from all the distractions of daily life - to a deeper level of relaxation. A relaxation that offers rest, focus, recovery, reprieve, and exploration.
Benefits of floating?
Flotation can benefit everyone, from athletes and creatives to business people, the elderly, and those with medical issues. Floatation is a form of alternative medicine and boasts an extensive wealth of benefits:
Stimulates the release of endorphins
Creates calm and total relaxation
Rejuvenates the mind and body
Alleviates mental and physical stress
Helps with fatigue and jet lag
Improves sleep and insomnia
Improves creativity, healing, and visualization
Expands awareness and heightens senses
Enhances mental clarity and deepens your mental state
Improves self-realization and discovery
Helps with anxiety, depression, and motivation
Helps with phobias and addiction
Helps with PTSD symptoms
Decreases the perception of pain
Relieves bones, joints, muscles
Relieves aches, pains, and strains
Relieves arthritis, migraines, and rheumatism
Helps with pregnancy pain
Increases blood circulation and lowers blood pressure
Helps athletes produce less cortisol, adrenaline, and lactic acid
Helps athletes visualize their performance for success
Helps athletes master the inner game and synchronize mind, body, and emotion
Reduces the risk of further injury and over training
Resets the body’s chemical & metabolic balance
Speeds up the healing process and recovery
Why Would You Float?
There are many reasons to float - time to yourself to relax and de-stress, athletic and muscle recovery, focus and thought processing, meditation and mindfulness, relief from pain, therapeutic processing and PTSD therapy. At the very minimum, it's an escape from the over-stimulating world that we live in… No sound means no phone alerts. No sight means no screens. No sense of gravity means relaxation for the postural muscles.
Where Can You Float?
Stand-alone Float centers or spas are available all over major metro areas and some smaller communities too. You might also find float facilities as a part of a chiropractor's office, a sports recovery center, or a traditional spa. If you can't find a float center you could give Zen's "Feels Like Floating” kit a try for an almost floating experience that works to convey some of the effects of floating.
How Should You Float?
Floating is a personal experience and you should treat it as your own journey. During your first few floats, you might find yourself losing track of time and falling asleep - total relaxation and the comfort it comes with will do that. We also recommend entering the tank with a meditation plan, or a work or life topic you'd like to focus on. You might also like the act of journaling afterward to help capture your thoughts and realizations. However you decide to spend your time in the tank we say give it a few tries before you decide if you want to continue floating or even take it to the next level with a Zen Float Tank in your home.
When Should You Float?
Like any journey the timing is up to you. Some people prefer to float after a long, stressful day at work to help them relax and process. Some like to float in the morning so they can strategize their day and the challenges they want to take on. Some athletes float right before a big game or event to visualize their performance, some float after to use the muscle relaxation for recovery, and some do both.
Muscle Rehabilitation & Pain Relief
Floating puts the body in a weightless environment, taking pressure off the muscle, bones and joints. Then Epsom Salt works as a natural pain reliever and muscle relaxer, relieving pain from Tendonitis and sprains, improving muscles and joints, while promoting quicker healing.
Reduces Anxiety, Depression & Promotes Relaxation
Sensory deprivation floating is healing people around the world by offering mental clarity, a respite from stress and uninterrupted relaxation. There is an incredible amount of ongoing research citing stress relief and mental health benefits:
Increased Memory, Problem Solving & Creativity
Our fast paced world is creating BRAIN STRAIN, we process more quantities of information now than ever before. Even one hour in an isolation tank will significantly calm your brain, allowing deeper thought, unlocking the subconscious mind, stimulating creativity and innovative thinking.
Mental Fitness is just as important as physical, an athlete or professional that lacks confidence or plays with fear, takes themselves out of the game. Floating helps you to visualize your success, putting you on the path of victory.
Impact Your Five Senses Like Never Before
Mental benefits from floating are almost LIMITLESS, you can see, hear and feel things that truly heal your body and your mind from the damage caused by the outside world.
A floatation tank is a light less, soundless tank filled with highly concentrated Epsom salt water heated to skin temperature. Floatation, also known as sensory deprivation, is simply the act of relaxing in a floatation tank; with all sights and sounds removed, and drifting into a meditative state that rejuvenates your mind and body.
A Tank of Many Names
The confusion around floatation and flotation tanks are at least in part due to the evolving naming conventions of the tanks. Tanks can be known as an isolation tank, sensory deprivation tank, float tank, flotation tank, float pod and even a sensory attenuation tank.
Floating is achieved by adding a high concentration of Epsom salts to the water. Much like in the Dead Sea this raises the density and buoyancy of the water.
Float tanks will use around 1000 liters of water and 550 kg of magnesium and sulfate-rich Epsom salts thereby increasing the specific gravity for the solution to around 1.27.
It is this change to the density that adds buoyancy to the water and allows a flotation tank user to float.
Epsom salts allow the float tank user to float but also do so much more. Ancient wisdom tells us that Epsom salts are an effective cure-all with benefits including stress relief along with easing aches and pains. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, which is the second most abundant element in the human body and one that is vital to good health and well being. When floating, the Epsom salt solution helps with lymph drainage and promotes the absorption of magnesium.
Sadly, over half of the US population does not meet the US recommended allowance for dietary magnesium. Modern agriculture and diet have radically reduced the magnesium in the body whilst modern consumption levels of fat, sugar and salt all work to more rapidly deplete magnesium.
Research shows that raising magnesium may have the following benefits:
Relieve stress – Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium helps bind serotonin, the happy hormone!
Relaxation – Elevates chemicals in the brain that works to create a feeling of well-being and relaxation.
Migraines – Eases and prevents migraine headaches.
Detoxification – Flushes toxins and heavy metals from the cells in the body. This in turn helps ease muscle pain and clear out harmful substances picked up from our modern environment.
Diabetes – Improved insulin sensitivity aids blood glucose control which can aid in prevention or severity of diabetes.
Heart Health – Improves heart and circulatory health. Preventing hardening of the arteries, blood clots and lowering overall blood pressure.
Bone health – Magnesium helps assimilate calcium into the bones.
Better still, when using a float tank the magnesium is absorbed through the skin and the body optimises the levels of magnesium so there is no chance of magnesium levels becoming too high which can be dangerous.
In addition to improving magnesium levels, Epsom salt also provides sulphates, which are difficult to get from food but are easily absorbed through the skin. Sulphates play a role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract – all of which helps us live a long and healthy life, particularly as we age.
Epsom salts, whilst helping the user float, also provide a wide range of health benefits adding to the therapeutic nature of floatation therapy.
Sensory deprivation is the removal of stimuli from the senses. At the most basic level, a blindfold or earplugs are a form of sensory deprivation. In a float tank, sight and sounds are removed. The air and water are also heated to skin temperature so it becomes impossible to know where your skin ends and the water begins. And, of course, you are floating.
Floating in a tank creates the perfect conditions for removing all external stimuli. This is the sensory deprivation element. Your vision is restricted in the pitch black, you can hear nothing but your own body. You are completely buoyant in the Epsom salt water. This leads to a feeling of zero gravity with no real concept of up, down, time or space. The water and air are heated to body temperature so you are unsure where your body ends and the water begins.
The science of sensory deprivation is known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST). REST in a float tank has shown a transition from alpha or beta brainwaves to theta, which would ordinarily only occur before sleep and waking. In a flotation tank, theta brain waves occur whilst the user is fully conscious. For many users, this allows for great creativity and problem-solving.
There is also evidence of physical benefits including reduced blood pressure, cortisol (the stress hormone) and improvements to blood flow. REST is also used by many athletes who claim enhanced recovery and performance.
The environment in the float tank completely isolates the senses and blocks out all distractions including gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound. This leaves you in a deeply relaxed and meditative dream-like state like the state you enter just before you go to sleep.
Your brain uses a lot of power to deal with the strain of gravity on the body, however, in an isolation tank, your body and mind is freed from gravity so can fully relax. As a result, the brain does not need to send out any commands to the body so activity in the logical side of the brain synchronizes with the creative hemisphere.
This changes the brainwaves from alpha to frequency delta and theta waves, causing you to enter the meditative dream-like state whilst fully conscious.
In the Tank
In the tank, you are free from external stimuli, and in a state of deep, meditative relaxation. Users in this state report a wide range of reactions and experiences:
The release of tension, a heightened sense of introspection and reflection, and feeling that your mind has completely left the body are all commonly reported experiences. However, your experience will be unique to you and you may need multiple sessions to relax into the experience and feel the tank’s full effect.
FLOAT THERAPY FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT
It is common for patients to use Epsom salt in a bathtub for the reduction of minor aches and pains, as well as for stress relief. Kjellgren and colleagues found a significant improvement with floatation therapy in those who experienced the most intense muscle pain (P=0.004), but there was no benefit found in participants who experienced lower levels of pain. There were 37 participants in this study, all of whom had chronic muscular pain of the neck and back regions. Individuals floated 9 times during a 3-week period.12In a Swedish study, 32 individuals with physician-diagnosed muscle tension pain related to stress participated. Specific aspects taken into consideration included number of pain areas and intensity, duration, and frequency of pain.13 All participants took part in 12 float sessions over a period of 7 weeks, and pain was assessed via a pain area inventory. Benefits were seen in patients who experienced both normal levels of pain and severe-intensity pain. Of the 32 participants in this study, 22% became pain-free, 56% had improvement of pain, 19% experienced no increase or decrease of pain, and 3% experienced worsening of pain.13Sixty-five people participated in a preventive healthcare intervention study, floating 12 times over a 7-week period. Participants with “normal pain”did not experience a statistically significant difference in this study. Patients in the “worst pain” category experienced significant benefit with floatation therapy. Pain was assessed via a visual analog scale, before and after the float session. A descriptive analysis indicated that the “worst pain” decreased from 64.29 (SD=28.13) to 39.70 (SD=32.11) after the treatment period. Research participants emphasized how their pain, including chronic pain, “was practically gone after the 12-session floatation program. They mentioned further how they felt relaxed, slept better, and were overall happier and healthier.”
Float Therapy Depression and Anxiety
At the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, researchers have extensively studied floatation therapy, particularly in theare as of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). One study involving 50 participants at LIBR examined the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of floating. Results showed a significant reduction in anxiety among participants, regardless of gender. All changes were significant at P<0.0001. Anxiety and stress-related disorders in this study included post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder. In addition to reduced anxiety, there was a significant improvement in mood characterized by “serenity, relaxation, happiness, positive affect, overall well-being, energy levels, and feeling refreshed, content and peaceful.”1 While the results of this study are initially promising, the researchers did not use a control group in this open-label design.Feinstein et al studied 31 high-anxiety sensitivity and depressed individuals who completed a single 90-minute float session and they found significant improvements in anxiety (P<0.001). Based on the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory, there was an average reduction of 14 points when comparing the pre- and postsession change in the raw total score.15 Researchers noted a reduction in blood pressure throughout the session as well. The average change in systolic blood pressure from baseline was 5.3 mmHg, and the average change in diastolic blood pressure was 12.8mmHg. The authors described the participants as experiencing “a robust relaxation response during and after floatation-REST that was decisively anxiolytic in nature.”15Jonsson and Kjellgren studied floatation therapy in relation to GAD during a 12-week period involving weekly float sessions.16 Of the 46participants, 37% achieved full remission when evaluated at the end of the 12 sessions, and these anxiolytic effects were maintained at the 6-monthfollow-up period. Difficulty with sleep, emotional regulation, and depression were also improved, as well as general optimism. The sessions did not reveal an improvement of pathologic worry. Additionally, improvement of depression, a common comorbidity with GAD, during the treatment period was not maintained at the 6-month follow-up.
Float Therapy For Stress Treatments
Research generally finds floatation therapy to be beneficial for stress reduction. Stress is well known to negatively affect health in a wide variety of ways, contributing to depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and compromise of the immune system.17 The relaxation response(which is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system) occurs when floating, lowering blood pressure and lowering cortisol levels in some studies.4 In a meta-analysis comparing floating to other stress-reduction techniques, floatation is found to be more effective than relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback. The pre-post mean effect size with floatation therapy was 1.02 (P<0.001). In comparison, non floatation relaxation exercises revealed a mean effect size of 0.35.4Kjellgren et al explored the effects of floatation therapy coupled with psychotherapy in 6 participants (2 men and 4 women) who were feeling“burned out” at work. Participants in this study had symptoms including fatigue, exhaustion, sleeping difficulty, pain, lack of energy, and feeling overwhelmed. These individuals were on the brink of taking immediate sick leave from work. However, after a 10-week treatment program, all participants were able to continue to work as assessed by both the individual and their physician.18 This was a small study with intriguing results.More extensive studies will be beneficial.
Float Therapy For Sleep Disorders
People have used floatation therapy to aid with sleep. Since magnesium is a common supplement used to aid with sleep, this is a logical area of float research interest. In a study looking at 19 athletes and floating, participants not only had improved athletic performance recovery, but also experienced significant improvements in having “deeper sleep, fewer awakenings during the night, and a sense of renewed energy upon awakening in the morning.”19Kjellgren et al observed that floating did not appear to alter the quality or duration of sleep in a study involving 37 patients, but it was found to significantly shorten the length of time needed to fall asleep.12 This may be related to the relaxation and anxiolytic effects of floating. Future studies with magnesium supplementation compared to, or in addition to, floatation therapy will be beneficial.Jonsson and Kjellgren examined the effects of floatation therapy in relation to anxiety in 46 individuals. There was a strong beneficial effect on sleep difficulties, with 43% of participants reporting sleeping well after a series of 12 treatments compared with 27% of the control group. These benefits were maintained at a 6-month follow-up.16Comorbidity between anxiety and sleeping difficulty is well established.20 Floatation therapy appears to be a good option for this population to explore, especially given the addictive nature of numerous antianxiety medications.
Benefits of Magnesium Sulfate
The benefits of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), better known as Epsom salt, are well known. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists it as an essential medication.5 Examples of use in all opathic medicine (which have specific administration routes and doses) include treatment for hypomagnesemia, pregnancy (eclampsia/preeclampsia), cardiac dysrhythmia (torsades de pointes), constipation, and asthma.6A proposed mechanism of action of the aforementioned benefits of floatation therapy lies in the transdermal absorption of MgSO4. There are a limited number of studies supporting the transdermal absorption of magnesium. The results are equivocal, largely due to sample size, lack of peer-review scrutiny, and/or methodology.7 Given the selectivity of the stratum corneum layer of the skin and the ionic nature of elemental magnesium, it appears that specific lipophilic carriers are required for MgSO4 to cross the dermal layer into the circulation.8 Chandrasekaran et al observed that hair follicles might provide an alternate entry for magnesium; however, the amount of absorbed magnesium was not specified. Hair follicles represent only 0.1% to 1% of the surface area of the skin,8 leaving this contribution of questionable benefit.Watkins and Josling observed 9 patients, aged 21 to 69 years, over a 12-week period for the effects of a daily 100-mL magnesium spray on various body areas and a twice-weekly foot bath of magnesium oil. Hair analysis, a controversial measurement model, revealed a significant increase in magnesium status of –7.1% to 262%, with an average increase of 59.7%. Serum magnesium levels were not reported in this trial.10Mimicking or exceeding the magnesium concentration of the Dead Sea (up to 198 mmol/mL) provides a substantial gradient relative to the approximate 0.8 mmol/mL magnesium concentration of the human body.8 In an unpublished report, Nutall et al observed the effects in 19 subjects(10 male, 9 female) of bathing in Epsom salts at concentrations ranging from 400 to 600 mg MgSO4/60 liters (approximately 15 gallons) of water.Participants took baths daily for 7 consecutive days at 50 to 55 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes. The trial resulted in a mean increase in all but 2subjects of serum magnesium from 104.68 +/- 20.76 ppm/mL at baseline to 140.98 +/- 17.00 ppm/mL at the end of the seventh bath. Urine magnesium showed a mean increase from 94.81 +/- 44.26 ppm/mL at baseline to 198.93 +/- 97.52 ppm/mL 24 hours after the first bath, returning nearly to baseline levels 24 hours after the seventh bath. The authors noted that the individuals who did not experience a significant rise in serum magnesium did show a corresponding increase in urinary excretion, suggesting the possible crossing of dermal layers into circulation and consequent kidney clearance of magnesium resulting from the intervention.