A sensory deprivation tank is often used for flotation therapy. An they are more common than you’d think. When used correctly, they offer numerous personal benefits.
A couple of years ago, Netflix released a hit show called “Stranger Things.”
In the later episodes of the show, characters must work to build a sensory deprivation tank. To avoid spoilers, we won’t say who was constructing the tank or why they were making it. But for many people watching the show, this was their first introduction into what a sensory deprivation tank was.
Sensory deprivation tanks are more common than you may think. One of their primary uses is for flotation therapy. When used correctly, they offer numerous personal benefits and can help you improve your brain health.
What is a Sensory Deprivation Tank?
Sensory deprivation tanks, otherwise known as isolation tanks or float tanks, is a tank that brings you out of touch with your senses. The tanks are typically lightless and soundproof so that you can numb your mind to sight and sound. When in one of these tanks, you will float in saltwater that is at the skin-temperature, which helps dull your sense of touch.
The tanks contain up to 2,000 pounds of Epsom salt, which forces you to float when you are in the water. In fact, it may not even be possible for you to touch the bottom of the tank because of the high salt concentration.
If you try to sit in the tank, the salt forces you to bob up and down. When you lay down in the tank as intended, you’ll float effortlessly.
Because you are floating without having to think about it, your mind can slip away to the stillness and silence that surrounds you.
If the entire experience becomes overwhelming, there’s no need to fear.
Most flotation tanks contain a button that will turn a blue light on for you if needed. Additionally, the door to exit the tank is no more than a few feet away at all times.
Flotation therapy has been around since the 1950s when researchers from McGill University sought to study the science behind sensory deprivation. Unfortunately, these studies brought a very negative stigma to sensory deprivation, primarily due to how the scientists conducted the experiments.
Later studies showed that test patients in the McGill study were overstimulated and that their techniques focused on sensory overload rather than deprivation. More recent research conducted before the turn of the century found that more than 90% of those who subjected themselves to sensory deprivation found it relaxing and rewarding.
Sensory deprivation stimulates the brain because when there are no external stimuli, the brain is forced to create its own. In fact, there has been at least one study that proved the visual cortex was significantly more active when in a flotation tank than when it was not.
Why are Sensory Deprivation Tanks Beneficial?
In the years since the McGill study, scientists have realized that sensory deprivation has a multitude of positive benefits. The cause of these benefits is because the tanks allow users to let their guards down.
All of our senses are used to protect us. Think about it – we can see and hear danger coming. When we touch something hot, we move our hands away immediately. If we smell smoke, we know there’s a fire.
This continual “do-or-die” methodology that we subject ourselves to is natural for everyone and can be good in some cases. A fight-or-flight response causes us to be stressful.
While a little bit of stress is necessary, elevated stress levels can cause a multitude of health problems. As described below, losing touch with your senses reduces these stress levels and allows your body to let its guard down.
A Decrease in Cortisol Production
When you are in a sensory deprivation tank, your body lowers its amount of cortisol production. Cortisol is a hormone released by our bodies when we are stressed. When our body decreases its cortisol production, it allows our immune and hormonal systems to return to a neutral level. Once this happens, some other health benefits occur as well.
For example, we:
- Place less stress on our hearts because of a lower heart rate
- Reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering our blood pressure levels
- Improve our respiratory functions by returning our breathing to an average pace
- Restore our digestive functions
Studies have found that there is a direct correlation between spending time in a sensory deprivation tank and discovering mindfulness in your daily life.
The patients who saw the most positive changes in their demeanor were the ones who put themselves on. And stuck to, a regular flotation program. These patients also indicated that they were more optimistic about going through life and slept better at night.
Treatment for Anxiety and Depression
Research has proven that sensory deprivation therapy was an effective method to improve symptoms of anxiety orders and depression. Specifically, flotation therapy was an effective treatment method for general anxiety disorder. Which is long considered to be one of the most complicated mental health issues.
In fact, the tanks were so beneficial. That more than a third of participants reported that they saw a full remission of their general anxiety disorder symptoms.
Those who did not see complete reduction said that were better to better regular their emotions. For the most part, symptoms of general anxiety disorder remained in remission for six months. After the flotation therapy treatments had concluded.
A More Productive Day
Stress in the main contributor to a lack of productivity. Stress brings about mental fatigue, as your brain works in overdrive to handle everything you’re processing. Similarly, pressure hinders your ability to concentrate and can also cause migraine headaches.
However, a flotation therapy treatment program can reduce all of these symptoms. Those who spent time undergoing sensory deprivation training found that they had more energy throughout the day. And were more productive with their time.
You should check to see if your employer has any policies regarding sensory deprivation training.
Many employers are encouraging meditation, massages, and other therapy methods that can help reduce stress and increase productivity. Accordingly, flotation therapy is a form of deep meditation. So your employer may allow you to take the time to visit a tank. Knowing that you’ll be a better employee because of it.
Your Body Will Feel Much Better
In addition to neurological health, sensory deprivation tanks could improve your physical health as well.
Some studies suggest that sensory deprivation tanks are a natural painkiller that could be as effective as medicines like ibuprofen. This is because of the natural state of relaxation you find yourself in when in one of the tanks.
When you are in a sensory deprivation tank, your muscles must relax, which can help relieve tension and release knots. Of course, the most significant benefit of this is that you aren’t doing any further harm to your body by doing so.
Pharmaceutical drugs come with numerous side effects, some of which may be severe.
Flotation therapy is entirely natural and safe.
You Could Beat Addictions
There’s a good chance that you’ve once heard someone say, “I have an addictive personality.”
If you know someone like this who is suffering from addiction no matter what methods they’ve tried. Then you may want to recommend flotation therapy to them. Flotation therapy can be used to treat all addictive behaviors. And not just those related to drugs or alcohol.
One study proved that sensory deprivation tanks are a cost-effective, versatile solution to combat addictive behaviors.
Because a flotation therapy program allows addicts to refocus their minds while re-balancing many of their internal systems. Sensory deprivation can also provide a euphoric sensation that addicts have only found when getting their fix.
Where to Find A Sensory Deprivation Tank
If you are interested in exploring the benefits of sensory deprivation tanks, you can visit websites like Where to Float and Flotation Locations to help find tanks in your area. These websites allow you to search by zip code to find sensory deprivation centers.
Additionally, you may want to speak with your doctor before spending time in a sensory deprivation tank.
Firstly and foremost, your doctor may have recommendations about sensory deprivation centers in your area. And could potentially direct you to one that they trust. Additionally, they could also put you in contact with therapists. Or even other doctors who are more familiar with the benefits of flotation therapy.
Secondly, it’s worth keeping your doctor in the loop about what methods you have been trying to help treat any problems you’ve been having. Such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Furthermore, while sensory deprivation tanks are considered to be safe. You may not want to be on other medications while going through a flotation therapy program.
Your doctor can help you work through any issues you have here.
Finally, if you visit a sensory deprivation center and fall in love with the floating sensation. Then you could also purchase a tank for yourself. Tanks, like the one seen here, can be installed in your home or office so that you can enjoy their benefits at any time.
If you meditate routinely, a sensory deprivation tank could be an excellent addition to your sessions.