Content and Editorial Director
Flotation tanks, also known as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks, have been around since the ‘50s. The idea behind them is pretty simple. Fill a horizontal tank with water and enough Epson salt to float effortlessly on the surface, and heat the water so it’s the temperature of the skin. Since there’s no light, no noise, no gravity, your external senses are virtually eliminated. Floaters say they can actually lose track of where their bodies end and the solution begins.
Because our brains are regularly bombarded by environmental stimulation, the sensory relaxation achieved during a float session is said to act as a powerful therapeutic tool. Some of the touted benefits include increased blood flow, elevated dopamine and endorphins, pain relief, stress reduction, better sleep and increased creativity, to name a few.
Despite all these potential benefits, floating can be a tough sell, due to some natural questions and concerns. Let’s look at those.
Will you drown if you fall asleep? Nope. Because of the high salt content (enough to float 1,000 pounds), you will float completely safely whether you’re awake or asleep.
What if you’re claustrophobic? Most float tanks are incredibly spacious, with plenty of room to stretch, sit or even stand. And you can always leave the tank’s door open.
What do you wear? You can wear a swimsuit, though the vast majority of people prefer to float nude.
Is it private? Each float suite is usually completely private, and contains a changing area, shower and tank, plus a towel, robe and other basic amenities.
How do you know when your session’s up? Generally, lights and music gently fade back on to let you know it’s time to exit.
Is the water purified between floats? This is the biggie. Fortunately, the high concentration of salt creates a very hostile environment for germs and bacteria. Plus, the water is run through a filtration and purification process multiple times. Tank-cleaning systems utilize large pool filters, hydrogen peroxide and a very robust ultraviolet sterilizer. The entire sanitation process is the same one that’s used to convert wastewater into drinking water.
So, are you ready to get your feet wet? First, find a flotation location. Then dive in and book your first session. They generally go for about $50 an hour. Give it a try, and let the floating, and blissful benefits, begin.
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