Looking for a way to increase your mental wellbeing, as well as fight the physical symptoms of mental health issues including anxiety, chronic stress and insomnia?
Floating in a deprivation tank might be a good treatment for you to consider. This seemingly futuristic treatment has a long history of successfully helping users better manage both their mental and physical health.
What is a Deprivation Tank?
Deprivation tanks, sometimes called sensory deprivation tanks or isolation tanks, are gaining widespread attention in the wellness industry, but the treatment they provide is hardly anything new.
A deprivation tank is filled with just 10 inches of water and then enough dissolved salt to create an environment where individuals can float on the water’s surface, no effort required. The goal of it all is to create a space where an individual is as removed as possible from their external senses.
The first deprivation tank was used in 1954, in relation to mental health, and deprivation tanks saw their first surge of popularity in the 1980s, before declining in popularity only to gain new interest in recent years.
How Deprivation Tanks Work
Deprivation tanks, though, do more than just provide you with a cool place to float.
Creating an atmosphere where you’re cut off from all your senses requires that the water be heated to skin temperature and then that the tank be closed. The tank then cuts off all sounds and all visual stimuli. Completely in the dark and silence, the special water-salt combination seems to cut you off from gravity as well.
The result? Your brain enters a state of total chill — or, at least, that’s the hope.
Regardless of what happens when an individual enters a deprivation tank, the consensus seems to be the same — there’s a whole host of benefits you can reap by regularly using a deprivation tank.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Increased Focus
Studies have shown that floating in a deprivation tank can increase focus and concentration, as well as improve cognitive performances, both for those working in an educational setting and in a career setting.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Increased Creativity
As you might expect, too, as your focus and mental capacity increases, so does your creativity. Professionals in the space claim that this is because when all of your immediate sensory input ceases, the part of your brain that’s worried about keeping you alive relaxes for a bit, allowing the more creative part of your brain more space to work.
Additionally, while floating, it’s said that your body lowers its levels of cortisol, while elevating its levels of dopamine and endorphins.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Reduced Anxiety and Stress
More dopamine and more endorphins always mean good things for those suffering from anxiety and stress. In fact, deprivation tanks have been used in so-called float clinics to treat those with PTSD and other stress- and anxiety-heavy mental illnesses. Users can sometimes even become so relaxed that they fall asleep in the tank, floating in the darkness.
But, wait, you ask — what if my anxiety prevents me from going into this dark, enclosed tank? Great question.
That’s why the Float Clinic and Research Center in Tulsa is creating custom-made float pools that allow those with anxiety around, and fear of, small, enclosed spaces to enjoy the benefits of a deprivation tank, without the tank portion of the experience. Instead, users float in an open, pool-like environment.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Chronic Pain Relief
Those with chronic pain find floating in a deprivation tank is also helpful. When in a deprivation tank, the body lowers its cortisol levels, produces relaxing hormones, increases dopamine and eliminates fatigue. It also helps combat the insomnia that many chronic pain sufferers deal with.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Improved Overall Mood
Even if you don’t have any specific mental health problems and you don’t suffer from chronic pain or other conditions, you might find that floating in a deprivation tank just improves your overall mood. After all, all that dopamine and those endorphins are a good thing for anyone.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Increased Immune Response
While it might seem odd that floating in a deprivation tank increases your immune response, it doesn’t seem so silly once you think about it.
After all, what is one of the primary things that decreases your immunity? Stress and not getting enough sleep. So, when you put your body in an environment that removes all stress and promotes relaxation and sleep, then it’s bound to boost your immune system. Your body can focus on taking care of itself and preventing disease, versus dealing with all the stressors of daily life.
Additionally, the Epsom salts used in deprivation tanks can help draw out harmful toxins from the body, toxins that weaken your immune system.
Benefits of Floating in a Deprivation Tank: Treatment for Insomnia
As mentioned above, deprivation tank usage can help you fight insomnia, by placing you in an environment where your body can free itself from its normal, everyday cares — whether you’re trying to let go of those cares or not. The special environment means it just happens almost automatically.
In a deprivation tank, the brain often moves from alpha waves to theta waves. Theta waves are your brain’s first step toward sleep. The next step is delta waves, which lead to REM cycles. Many deprivation tank users fall asleep right in the tank and then go on to experience better sleep at home after their deprivation tank session.
Tips for Using a Deprivation Tank
If you want to reap the full benefits of using a deprivation tank, there are a few things you can do.
- Don’t overthink it. The environment makes stress relief and relaxation incredibly easy. Just go in, sit back and wait for whatever is going to happen, to happen. You might not enter the trance-like state some users report. That’s okay. Whatever you experience, it will definitely be more relaxing than your normal state (and keep in mind it can take up to 20 minutes for the stress-relieving effects of the environment to take hold of your body and mind).
- Don’t eat or drink before your float session. You don’t want to interrupt your session to head to the bathroom, and the sensory deprivation means you’ll be very aware of anything your body is doing — including digesting food.
- Don’t shave the day of your float session. The salt solution can irritate your skin.
- Don’t rush it. This is an important act of self-care. You don’t want to jam your float session into the middle of a busy day and then not be able to fully experience the benefits because you’re worried about heading off to your next appointment.
- Make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate after a float session!
When to Avoid Using a Deprivation Tank
Of course, just like with any treatment, using a deprivation tank isn’t for everyone. There are a few types of individuals who should not use a deprivation tank.
In general, avoid using a deprivation tank if you have:
- An acute kidney condition
- An infectious disease
- Open wounds
- Low blood pressure
- Sensitivity to chlorine, bromine, sulfate or magnesium
- Severe skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema
- Certain heart conditions
It’s also not advised for you to use a float tank while intoxicated in any way. Of course, if you have any doubts about using a float tank, you should check in with your doctor.
Is a Deprivation Tank Treatment Right for Me?
Do you want to experience:
- Better mental health?
- Clarity of mind and increased creativity?
- More refreshing sleep patterns?
- A better overall mood?
- Increased immunity?
Then using a deprivation tank could be a very beneficial addition to your self-care routine.
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