With www.floatforhealth.net, I’ve spent a lot of time compiling what I think is the most extensive online resource on floatation tanks. As a result of all that time spent doing research, I sometimes feel compelled to archive some of the online information that I see slowly disappearing. Here’s an example:
A Stress Solution?
November 17, 2004 – Get your troubles to float away by simply giving salt water and isolation a chance. Float tanks are also known as sensory deprivation tanks. They were hot in the 1980′s and early 90′s. Now some people are taking another look at float tanks.
They are no longer seen as weird new-age toys or the creepy containers in the fictional movie "Altered States." Floating is now being sold as the latest in alternative treatment capable of melting away stress and relieving pain.
Few of us over the age of 5 have the luxury of hearing a good bedtime story and then taking a late morning nap. But, John Tolva says a one hour trip into one of these is the next best thing.
"My wife thought I was crazy locking myself into a chamber with water in it by myself in the dark," said John Tolva, floating enthusiast.
Actually there is no lock, and John, a busy dad and an over stimulated creative director for IBM, is constantly looking for a quick way to relax. So when several other young professionals recommended a dip in a sensory deprivation tank, he was game.
"I really couldn’t tell you what happens because the depravation of senses was so complete," said Tolva.
The idea is to literally shut out the world and give your brain and body a therapeutic rest. The journey begins by stepping into a tank that’s roughly 5 feet by 8 feet in size. Inside is about 10 inches of water with about 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts mixed in that’s what allows the body to bob like a cork effortlessly. The water has a silky feel and is body temperature. You can float with or without a bathing suit. Once you shut the door it’s dark and silent. The only thing you might hear is the beating of your heart.
"It’s awesome," said Tolva.
Debborah Hopkins is a floating enthusiast.
"If you float early in the day or early evening for the rest of the night you are in bliss and peaceful," said Debborah Hopkins, floating enthusiast.
Eric Polcyn is the co-owner of Spacetime Tanks, Chicago’s oldest and only float center. He says this is better than a nap because the tank eliminates gravity, which no mattress can do. So your head, neck, spine, muscles joints and bones are floating freely.
"It’s the one place on this planet that has the least amount of stimulus and strain on your body," said Eric Polcyn, owner of Spacetime Tanks.
In suburban Arlington Heights, one couple is banking on the belief that float tanks are making a comeback and people will use them as form of alternative treatment. Their center, called Aguasal, is set to open in about a month.
"The people who are going to come in here will be interested in improving their health or at least maintaining it," said Frank Rodriguez, Aguasal, Inc.
It may sound crazy and a little too out there, but numerous studies, including one from the National Institutes of Mental Health show float sessions can help treat hypertension and reduce stress related hormones.
Believers also claim it can improve everything from back pain to migraines. But, most mainstream physicians say it can’t hurt but there’s not enough science and it should not replace proven therapies.
Sleep researcher Edward Stepanski warns a soak in salt water will never replace a good night’s rest.
"It’s a type of relaxation therapy that for many people would probably be extremely effective, but the idea that by being in a tank or sensory deprivation will replace sleep and give you the full restorative benefits that sleep gives you that is the thing that has never been shown," said Edward Stepanksi, Ph.D., sleep specialist.
John Tolva can’t wait to go back. He says the effects of floating for one hour lingered long after he left the tank.
‘I think that I am doing some good. I am unwiring a little bit even if it is subconscious," said Tolva.
The water in the tank is not changed after each use. But owners say it is sanitized not only by the salt and hydrogen peroxide but it is also circulated through a type of chlorine filter.
Costs for a one hour float range from 40 to 65 dollars. And the newer tanks now include video monitors and speakers for those who don’t want complete isolation.