The technique of floating takes advantage of an innate inclination to relax when floating at a comfortable temperature. The temperature is that which allows natural heat generation to escape without the need for muscle action to raise body temperature in homeostatsis. The supine position of the floating posture allows all the postural muscles to relax. The water pressure on the immersed skin is lower than the blood pressure and thus blood flow continues in skin capillaries. This is in contrast to normal bed rest where local contact pressure inhibits blood flow requiring regular adjustment of posture.
The natural tendency of the body in the floating posture at the correct temperature is to dilate the blood vessels, reducing the blood pressure and maximizing blood flow. The brain activity normally associated with postural muscles is also reduced to a minimum, therefore putting you into a more relaxed state.
Benefits of being in a floating state include:
Studies show that floating causes release of natural endorphins that reduce pain and is especially good for tension headaches, stiff necks and sore shoulders.
Improved Quality of Sleep
The benefits of floating for sleep include an ability to fall asleep easier, feeling more refreshed after waking, less daily fatigue and an increased ability to focus and be productive.
Reduced Blood Pressure
As you float, your blood pressure naturally decreases and red blood cell distribution increases. Your blood vessels relax as you do, promoting stronger blood flow and reducing blood pressure. When you float, your body can regulate its natural chemistry without the influence of external stimuli. The Epsom salts in the flotation tank water also contain magnesium, which is absorbed through the skin and encourages increased dopamine production. Dopamine is the “feel good” reward hormone naturally produced in our brains. Blood pressure drops when we feel good, so naturally stimulating increased dopamine production is a great way to manage high blood pressure.
The non-gravity atmosphere of the float tank gives all of your joints and muscles a break. This promotes healing of muscle strain and injury, but it also prevents more serious injuries to in the future. The high levels of magnesium sulfate in a float tank relaxes sore muscles and builds protein in your joints, which helps to accelerate recovery time so your muscles recover faster after strenuous exercise.
Human brain waves in normal, awake circumstances, are beta waves. As you lie in the quiet, peaceful environment of the float tank, some of those beta waves begin to convert.
The ones associated with reasoning and alertness morph into alpha waves – the waves experienced during deep states of relaxation. As time goes on, those same waves are transformed again into theta waves, which are the ones we experience while sleeping. Even though you’re physically awake, your mind will be suspended in a theta wave state which creates a deeply rested and refreshed feeling.
Besides feeling utterly relaxed and recharged, theta waves offer another boost to your creative thinking. Theta waves are linked to vivid imagery within the brain. This is the reason why you may have extravagant and interesting thoughts just before you fall asleep or during your dreams. Beta waves can block this type of vivid experience, so flotation therapy could literally be “unlocking” a part of your brain that’s normally restricted to sleep.
The most consistent and widely experienced effect of floating is a sense of deep, lasting relaxation. As humans, we are often brought down by stressful sensory experiences. Dealing with problems at work, home, and in the wider world can cause us to lose sight of the beauty and positivity that life offers in every moment. Floating is a way to pause all of these stressors for 90 minutes and provide the mind and body a needed space for relief and reflection. After leaving the tank, one often finds their tension eased, optimism restored, and ability to appreciate the richness of life revived.