by Ariane Resnick, C.N.C.
A New Kind of Spa
You've heard of a massage spa and a nail spa, but what about a flotation tank spa? This recent wellness trend involves going to an establishment where you immerse yourself in water that is close to body temperature. Proponents claim it relieves anxiety, improves concentration, decreases pain and improves mindfulness. Is that true, and if so, how does it work?
What Is Sensory Deprivation?
Time spent in a sensory deprivation tank is known as REST: restricted environmental stimulation therapy. This means that your senses (such as hearing and sight) have nothing to experience. The idea behind this experience is that with nothing to stimulate your senses, you are more easily able to relax and be calm.
What Are Float Tanks?
Also known as isolation tanks and sensory deprivation tanks, float tanks are small vessels filled with about a foot of water that has Epsom salts in it; the magnesium salt in the water is needed so that you remain buoyant and don't sink. They were invented in the 1950s and have been in commercial use since the 1970s.
What's the Process?
Because float tanks are costly to own, most people go to flotation spas to use sensory deprivation tanks. It's recommended that you eat before your session and don't have caffeine for several hours prior. In the room with the tank, you remove your clothing and jewelry and shower before entering. Once in the tank, you close the lid and remain inside for the duration of your session. When it's over, you shower again and re-dress.
Does This Help Anxiety? What About Its Other Claims?
The main reason sensory deprivation has grown in popularity in recent years is that it works. Studies show clearly that the purported effects of the flotation tanks are real. So far, study results have supported claims of a significant reduction in anxiety for users, along with reduced whiplash-related pain, improved mindfulness and lowered stress.
Who Should Try It?
Flotation tanks are considered safe for most people, but some people are not good candidates for them. You should not use a sensory deprivation tank if you have:
- A sensitivity to magnesium
- New or unhealed tattoos or piercings
- Recent chemotherapy
- Keratin hair extensions
- Seizure disorders
- Motion sickness
If you're concerned about feeling claustrophobic in a float tank, you can try an open float room instead of a tank.
Ariane Resnick is a special-diet chef, certified nutritionist, and bestselling author. She has been featured in media such as Forbes, CBS’ “The Doctors,” and Huffington Post, and her private clientele includes celebrities such as P!nk. Ariane has two books published (the first of which, The Bone Broth Miracle, reached the ranking of #1 cookbook on Amazon on multiple occasions) and two books releasing in 2019.