Float Therapy: 5 Things You Need to Know About Sensory Deprivation Tanks

Sensory deprivation tanks are a popular and fantastic way to experience relaxation. In today’s busy world, many people are looking for different ways to wind down, and sensory deprivation tanks just might be the best tool for relaxation out there. Practitioners boast of extreme relaxation and mental satisfaction after using the tanks, but are sensory deprivation tanks for everyone? Here are five things you need to know before getting in the tank that will help you decide for yourself whether sensory deprivation tanks are right for you.

1) What is a sensory deprivation tank?

A sensory deprivation tank, also known as a “float tank,” or an “isolation tank,” is a chamber filled with body-temperature water that has nearly 900 pounds of salt added to it. Because of the high salt content in the tank, it makes the water extra buoyant. As a result, you will find that your body floats effortlessly on the water, allowing you to relax and focus on the experience of floating. A word of caution, because the water is very salty, avoid touching your eyes once you have entered the tank and, if you have any small cuts or wounds, be sure to apply petroleum jelly on the cut before you go into the tank–otherwise the stinging could keep you from relaxing properly!

2) You are alone with your thoughts.

This can be a challenge for most people. Unless you’re used to being alone with your thoughts, being in the tank for 90 minutes with only your thoughts and the sound of your breath to keep you company can be a daunting task. One option is to practice before you head into the tank–lay down in a warm, very dark room and practice being alone with your thoughts. Count your breaths and listen to the sound of the air rushing in and out of your body and focus. This is a good way to get used to the idea of what a sensory deprivation tank will be like–though floating in salt water in an enclosed chamber is quite different from a warm dark room, it will give you an idea of what it is like to be alone with your thoughts.

3) For your first visit, opt for less time in the tank.

Because sensory deprivation tanks can be an overwhelming experience for new practitioners, start with a shorter float time for your first visit. Most spas that offer sensory deprivation tanks sell their time in blocks of either 60 or 90 minutes. Unless you are very comfortable with your thoughts and the process, use a 60-minute block of time to try out the tank and see if it agrees with you. Eventually, you will find that the time flies by and you’ll hardly believe that you’ve been in the tank for an entire hour–that is the magic of extreme relaxation!

4) Sensory deprivation tanks vary in size and shape–pick the one that’s right for you.

There are many types of sensory deprivation tanks, ranging from enclosed, cave-like tanks to more open-concept experiences; be sure to choose the tank that is right for you. Although you are never locked in a tank, some people feel more comfortable with an open enclosure. These rooms are just as dark as an enclosed tank, but because it encompasses a larger space that is not covered on all sides, some people feel more comfortable with this kind of tank. If you have no claustrophobia concerns, the more traditional, enclosed tank might be perfect for you. Though the tanks range in size, they are typically large enough to completely and comfortably hold the average man or woman. These tanks, unlike the open enclosures, are completely enclosed, which ensures complete silence and darkness. For the more seasoned floater, these are the perfect tanks that will allow for deep concentration and relaxation–that you control, as the entrance to the tank is always open.

Whichever tank you choose, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you adjust to the darkness and silence, and will likely find yourself coming back for more, again and again!

5) Sensory deprivation tanks might not be for everyone.

Though many people find that they love the full-body, and full-mind relaxation that sensory deprivation tanks provide, it is not for everyone. Sensory deprivation tanks can be used as an excellent source of relaxation, but don’t be discouraged if you find that floating is just not for you. Not everyone enjoys being alone with their thoughts, nor does everyone want to float in a quiet pool for hours, but for the people out there who are looking for an alternative and sometimes life-changing experience, sensory deprivation tanks just might be exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Closing Thoughts

Sensory deprivation tanks can be an excellent tool to add to your arsenal of self-care. For many, the experience of being completely alone with your thoughts allows the practitioner control over their mind and body, as the tank allows you to free yourself from the harshness of everyday life and just experience pure relaxation. You just might get addicted to the strange awareness and sense of relaxation that overwhelms you. As with any new health treatment, be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any major health concerns before you decide to use a sensory deprivation tank.

But if you think you are ready to get into the tank, give your health spa a call and talk to one of their qualified professionals to make an appointment and to hear any of their suggestions–then sate your curiosity by experiencing your first sensory deprivation tank float!