The science of Floatation Therapy
What is a floatation tank and how does it work?
The float tank is large water containing pod (the size of a queen size bed). Inside is about 30 cm of heated mineral water. The water is heated to your external skin temperature – about 34.5 degrees C. Because of the density of the salt solution, when you lie back in the water, your body pops to the surface like a cork – completely supported by the water (like in the dead sea). Every muscle in your body is completely supported by the water, and you no longer having to deal with gravity. You float weightless like an astronaut in space.
With the temperature of the water exactly the same as your skin temperature, you begin to lose the sense of where your body ends and the water begins.
The tank is completely dark inside, and totally, serenely silent. Effectively removing all environmental stimulation from your body has powerful effects on both the body and mind, the most noticeable of which is a deep physical and mental relaxation and a feeling of euphoria.
“After floating we seem to perceive the world with startling directness, richness and clarity when we get out of the float tank the one thing that we know immediately is that it is worth doing simply because it feels so good.”
(Michael Hutchison The Book of floating)
When we shut out or restrict environmental stimuli, we become more aware of those things that are still available to us. In this case when we shut out light, sound, tactile sensations, gravity, other people and movement, what is left is our Self: the physical reality or our skeletal muscles, out thought, emotions, intuitions, mental images. Our awareness of these realities is of a subtlety and intensity simply not possible when our senses are directed outward, responding to external events.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that by becoming more acutely cognizant of our inner processes, we can actually exercise conscious control of them e.g. simply focusing awareness in a certain way, we can lower blood pressure, strengthen our immune system, slow heartbeat, release or inhibit the release of hormones, alleviate pain, and alter the activity of heart, muscles, brain and mind.
There is an entire web site dedicated to the research about floatation REST.
You can find it here
Recent research has is pointing to floatation brilliant results for Generalized anxiety disorder, PSTD and Depression.
- Dr Justin Feinstein.
“Irrespective of what condition you have, irrespective of what causes your anxiety, if you come in to float, you are going to see a drop in your state anxiety levels. That to me is maybe the most important finding across the whole study”
M.C. Flux is a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder, he has been studying the mechanisms involved in the immune system.
- Promising effects of treatment with flotation-REST (restricted environmental stimulation technique) as an intervention for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): a randomized controlled pilot trial.
CONCLUSION:The findings suggest that the method has potential as a complementary treatment alongside existing treatment for GAD. More studies are warranted to further evaluate the treatments efficacy.
- Characterizing the experiences of flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): A phenomenological study
CONCLUSION: The results highlights that flotation-REST treatment of GAD was experienced as a comprehensive process that were both challenging and pleasant. The results indicate that the method positively affected symptoms and the core issue associated with GAD on an experiential level. The present study also generated some initial understanding regarding potential mechanism that might mediate and maintain positive treatment effects when flotation-REST is applied as an intervention of GAD.
- Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis
CONCLUSION: The results showed that REST has positive effects on physiology (e.g., lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure), well-being, and performance. The prepost mean effect size and the overall randomized control group effect size were relatively strong. This suggests that despite some limitations of the original studies, flotation REST can be a useful stress management tool in addition to or instead of other stress management tools.
- Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology by Fine, M.A. and Borrie, Ph.D.
- Bending and Mending the Neurosignature by Sven-Ake BoodHealth and Therapeutic Applications of Chamber and Flotation REST
- REST-assisted relaxation and chronic pain
- REST as a stress management tool: A meta-analysis June 2005
- Chronic Tension Headaches: Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy for Chronic Tension Headache: A Pilot Study by Wallbaum, Rzewnicki, Steele & Suedfeld
- Muscle Tension Pain: Effects of Flotation-REST on Muscle Tension Pain by Kjellgren, Sundequist, Norlander, & Archer
- Memory Effects of REST
- Consciousness, Creativity, Subjective Stress and Pain by Kjellgren
- Controlled Investigation of Right Hemispheric Processing Enhancement After Restricted Environmental Stimulation (REST) with Floatation
- Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique Improves Human Performance: Rifle Marksmanship
- Reduction of Post-ECT Memory Complaints Through Brief, Partial Restricted Environmental Stimulation (REST)
- Absorption of magnesium sulfate across the skin by Dr. RH Waring
- Sulfate and Sulfation by Dr. RH Waring
- Restricting Environmental Stimulation (REST) to Enhance Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder With Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- REST research compilation by Penn State University Lab
- Additional research
* Disclaimer: Floatation is an experience unique to each individual, as such, the experience and results may vary from person to person