“St. Elizabeth Hospital, Appleton, Wisconsin: A year long statistical analysis of the effects of float tanks revealed 70%-85% improvement in treatment of a wide range of problems, i.e., anxiety, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular ailments, migraine/ tension headaches, chronic pain, hypertension, and recovery from cardiac surgery.” -Esquire Magazine
A floatation tank is a small enclosed pool approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high. In the pool is 200 lbs of water and 800 lbs. of dissolved Epsom salt. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and is very different than the kind of salt we eat. Epsom salt has been used for centuries for its many health benefits. According to the Epsom Salt Industry Council of the US, when magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, and relaxes muscles.
Epsom salt is a natural skin emollient, skin exfoliator, and much more. In a float tank, there’s no “prune skin” effect that you get when you lie in the bathtub for a long time. You can learn more about the health benefits of Epsom salt here.
The water in a floatation tank is 10 inches deep, and is kept at skin temperature – 93.5°F. The saltwater is so dense that you float like a cork, with your face and the front of your body above the water. The feeling of weightlessness cannot be described. It must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
A float tank is not a swimming pool – it doesn’t matter whether you can float in a swimming pool or not, it’s impossible not to float in a floatation tank. The density of the saltwater in a floatation tank is actually greater than that of the Dead Sea in Israel – famous for its ability to allow people to float effortlessly.
A floatation tank is enclosed so that the part of your body that is floating above the water doesn’t get cold. The buoyancy created by the Epsom salt results in the floatation tank environment being impossible to flip over accidentally.
Many people who’ve never heard of floating are surprised to learn that there are float centers all over the world, with about 60 in the US (click here for a directory). Furthermore, the media has been covering floatation tanks for decades. We’ve compiled several articles here.
As you go through this site, you may see references to “REST”. This stands for Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. The phrase was coined in the early 1980s by researcher Dr Peter Suedfeld (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) to describe the physical process that underlies floatation.
As the phrase suggests, the floatation tank restricts environmental stimulation – the combined effects of gravity, temperature, touch, sight, and sound on the muscles, nervous system, sense organs, and brain. Freed from the workload created by these external stimuli, the body and mind enter deep levels of relaxation in a short amount of time.
Here’s a partial list of benefits that are obtained by floating:
• Speeded recovery from injury
• Reduced high blood pressure
• Reduced symptoms of such ailments as asthma, arthritis, bursitis, multiple sclerosis, migraine and tension headaches, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and rheumatoid arthritis
• Improved post-operative recovery
• Rapid elimination of fatigue
• Increased flow of endorphins
• Increased feelings of self-confidence, self-control and serenity