3 Benefits of the Sensory Deprivation Tank – Cleveland Clinic
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the solution might be REST – and we’re not talking about a nap here.
The Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit, academic medical center. Advertising on our website supports our mission. We do not endorse any non-Cleveland Clinic product or service. politics
REST is short for Restricted Environment Stimulation Therapy. The meditation technique involves the use of water-filled sensory deprivation tanks in which you float in dark silence, detached from external stimuli.
The idea behind float therapy is to get into a state of relaxation that relaxes the body and mind. However, here is the question: does the concept sink or float?
Let’s find it with integrative medicine specialist Dr. medical Irina Todorov, out.
What is sensory deprivation therapy?
The world is full of distractions that can overwhelm your senses. When you enter a sensory deprivation tank and close the hatch, you are sealed off from those pesky outside influences and distractions.
The tank is dark and quiet, giving your eyes and ears a welcome rest. The chamber is filled with a shallow pool of water saturated with Epsom salts, providing buoyancy that helps you float effortlessly.
The temperature of the water and chamber are also adjusted to match your skin temperature, allowing you to better adapt to your surroundings.
“The intent is to give you a break and restart you,” says Dr. Todorov. “They remove the clutter, noise and distractions of everyday life. Everything is stripped. Just you, unbound.”
How does floating help?
The feeling of weightlessness that comes with floating enhances the feeling of detachment from the world. Essentially, it creates an environment where you’re not even bound by the laws of gravity.
“By not actually touching a hard surface, it helps complete that sense of separation,” explains Dr. Todorov.
Benefits of float therapy
So why would you slip into a sensory deprivation tank and float around for 30 minutes to an hour? Well, here are a few reasons.
A mental boost
Researchers found that a swim therapy session can help reduce:
On the other hand, studies also show that feelings of optimism often increase after float therapy. These good vibes can help increase creativity, focus, and even increase athletic performance.
dr Todorov attributes the positive results of sensory deprivation tank therapy to taking time just to be mindful and in the moment. “It’s about giving yourself the time to detach and mentally reboot,” she says.
A clear mind can help bring ZZZs within reach. A 2016 study found that in addition to reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, float therapy may have “significant positive effects” on sleep disorders.
Feeling better mentally can translate into physical well-being. Studies show that sessions in a sensory deprivation tank can reduce the perceived intensity of severe chronic pain from aching muscles.
The researchers attributed the findings to a reduction in stress and an overall feeling of relaxation, which calmed tense muscles.
“It’s the mind-body connection,” says Dr. Todorov. “Pain increases anxiety and stress, and the situation can spiral. But if you can control that stress, the pain level can go down a bit and you can feel more comfortable.”
Float Therapy: Not for everyone
If you’ve read this article and think that spending 30 minutes to an hour in a dark tank is absolutely impossible… well, you’re not alone. “It’s definitely not for someone who suffers from claustrophobia,” says Dr. Todorov.
Sensory deprivation tanks are also not recommended if you:
- Open wounds or skin diseases.
- A contagious disease.
- A seizure disorder.
Is float therapy worth it?
Meditation comes in many varieties and forms, says Dr. Todorov. If you’re willing to use a sensory deprivation tank, there’s little risk in trying float therapy as part of a mindfulness program.
“Different people find different ways to deal with stress,” notes Dr. Todorov. “Float therapy is just another option to consider.”