What is floatation?
What does it feel like? Why do people do it?
Floatation refers to the sense of weightlessness achieved during a session in a flotation tank or room, and the feelings of profound relaxation, bliss and well-being resulting from this experience. For many people it is simply the most effective and incredible means of stress relief and relaxation available.
Floating is more than just relaxation. Floatation can be very therapeutic, and floatation therapy is internationally accepted as a treatment for a wide range of ailments and conditions. Over five decades of scientific research and clinical and anecdotal evidence demonstrates that the floatation tank is an important modern health and wellness tool.
How does it work?
It is easy to float, and no special training is required. You simply rest effortlessly on your back in a warm water solution of Epsom salt, a natural compound which for centuries has been associated with maintaining good health by restoring depleted minerals in the body.
While floating, the body and mind are freed from the everyday stress of gravity and shielded from distractions such as light, noise and movement. Most people are unaware of how stressful gravity is on the body and how important it is to take a long break from the daily routine. Floating is the ultimate break which restores energy safely in the body. And it gives you a special liberating feeling that you can experience anywhere else. It is an experience of complete calm and tranquility, as if you were floating in outer space or in the heavens.
Is this sensory deprivation? Is this an isolation tank? Etc.
Floatation is known by several names, including floating, floatation therapy, sensory deprivation and REST*.
Floatation involves lying down in a salt water solution within a a large specially-designed device of which there are several varieties: flotation tanks, pods and isolation tanks; float rooms and chambers and cabins; and floatation pools, baths, tubs and open-faced tanks. See our Manufacturers page for more information.
* Even the clinical term REST has more than one definition:
Reduced (or Restricted) Environmental Stress Therapy and Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique
The most common questions about floating:
Is the float tank clean? Is it safe?
The floatation tank is completely safe and if you are concerned about germs in the tank, don’t be. The water in a float room is much cleaner than the water in a swimming pool or hot tub because the high concentration of salts creates a sterile environment in which microorganisms cannot survive. Floatation tanks and rooms also include several well-engineered sterilization systems which filter and sanitize the water between each float. Finally, all clients are required to thoroughly shower and shampoo on-site before entering the float tank.
What if I’m “claustrophobic” – will I enjoy floating?
If you’ve never been inside an isolation tank then you are probably thinking that you will be confined to an enclosed space. This is not the case. The most important thing you need to know about floating is that you are always in complete control. You can use the tank with the door open if you wish, you can get in and out whenever you want, you can leave a small light on, etc. You are in a private room which allows you to personalize the experience and customize it according to your needs.
Also, keep in mind that there are many types of flotation systems and some of them are large chambers, entire rooms or open pools located in rooms. Even the smallest float tanks or pods are quite large and once you see it in person and talk to the staff, your fears will most likely go away.
Can I drown in an isolation tank?
It’s practically impossible and no one has ever drowned in a float tank. When floating, you remain face up and positively buoyant the entire time. The main reason you can’t drown is the extremely high salt content: it makes you float like a cork and will sting your eyes and nose if you ever turned over in the water. (Note: normally you won’t get any salt water in your eyes, but in case you do most float centers have a spray bottle of fresh water inside the tank for you to rinse your eyes with.)
Is there plenty of air in the tank?
The float pod is not airtight (there are vents) and fresh air is constantly circulated in and out of it.
How long is a session? How often do I need to float? Etc.
How long is a session?
Usually between 1 and 1.5 hours.
One hour is the average session length at a commercial float center, though many centers also offer one and a half hour sessions. Some people prefer shorter floats and others find the occasional two or three hour sessions to be very valuable. Of course, one of the many advantages of having your own tank is that you can set the amount of time that is best for you and float without any restrictions.
How many times will I need to float before I am “doing it right”?
Within a few sessions, perhaps your first one.
Most people, but not all, get a sense of what floating will be like after they float 3 to 5 times. Many people receive the full benefits during their first experience, but if your first float is not what you expected or if you had some difficulties, give it another try. The first time in the tank is a novel experience and some people have a hard time relaxing and letting go. Once it clicks and you see the potential, you’ll want to float again and again.
How often do I need to float?
That depends on you.
Unless you own your own tank, how often you float is really a matter of economics, personal preference and whether you are using the floatation cabin to accomplish a particular goal. People in special floatation programs (for physical therapy, self-improvement, etc.) are floating once or more a week for a limited number of sessions, but a “regular floater” at a commercial float spa might be defined as someone who floats once or twice a month, even once a week.
Is floatation for everyone?
Is the isolation tank for me?
People of all ages and walks of life enjoy the experience equally.
If you like to relax and have amazing, blissful experiences then you will like floating. The feeling of weightlessness on water is unique.
Please note: There are a few cases when a person should not use an isolation tank: epileptics whose epilepsy is not under medical control; people under the influence of alcohol or drugs; people suffering from schizophrenia or with suicidal tendencies; people with infectious diseases or open skin wounds. Most float centers will ask you to sign a waiver stating that you do not have any of these conditions.
What about pregnant women?
And they enjoy it very much: as their bodies get heavier, floating is a great relief from the pull of gravity. Floating has given many women a welcome rest.
A few notes of caution, however: We suggest that pregnant women inform their physicians or midwives and get their opinion prior to using the tank. It has been suggested that floating during the third trimester could put pressure on the vena cava in some women. Also, note that for liability purposes some float centers will not allow women in their first trimester to float.
What about chidren?
Children can use the tank though it is not common, and the benefits a child receives probably depends on the child’s developmental stage. Young children may not view the tank as anything other than a special bath or pool, while older children may truly get something out of the experience. Certainly, children with special medical conditions or behavioral problems may profit from the therapeutic benefits of the tank, as will teenage students and athletes.
When properly prepared for a float, children can dismiss fears they may have about being inside a dark enclosed space. (One child described it as “a good kind of dark”.) Parents are required to supervise young children, and most float centers will require that parents sign a waiver for older children or teens who are still legally minors.
Preparing for a float…
If you shave 2 or 3 hours before using the tank, the shaved skin will sting for a few minutes. If you can postpone your shaving, you will probably be more comfortable.
Remove your contact lenses.
If you wear contact lenses, it would be a problem if any salt water got into your eyes. If you remove your contacts you don’t have to be concerned about it.
Wear the earplugs provided to you.
The earplugs add comfort and prevent any problems with water or salt entering the ear canal. In rare cases, salt can remain in the ear canal and cause irritation and even a painful infection. Thus, we advise that you always wear earplugs.
Avoid caffeine and energetic drinks.
If you normally drink coffee (or black teas, green teas, energy drinks, etc.) you will want to skip them before your float. Stimulants may interfere with your ability to relax.
Whether or not to eat before a float …
If you eat a very heavy meal you may spend a lot of time listening to your digestive juices. On the other hand, if you get very hungry you may also be spending a lot of time listening to your digestive juices. Moderation works in this case (eat something light and not too close to your appointment time). Also, we recommend that you avoid spicy or irritable foods.