Live the ultimate relaxation experience with sensory deprivation tanks

By Marilou LeBel-Dupuis – on in Health
Have you ever heard of sensory deprivation tanks, also called isolation tanks? If these names seem a be terrifying at first, the experience itself is everything but scary.

To be fair, sensory deprivation tanks are also called float tanks, which is exactly what they are: a tank filled with saltwater where you float. Way less terrifying now, right?

Now, you’re probably wondering what the details (and science) are behind this. Well, there’s a foot of water in the tank, and it’s maintained to body temperature. In order to allow you to float effortlessly, the water is nearly saturated with Epsom salt. Think of people floating in the hypersaline Dead Sea, it’s about the same phenomenon. Except, you know, you’ve closed off any sensation beside your heartbeat and breathing.

That is, if you choose to. Float tanks are designed to be a relaxing experience, not a torture chamber where you don’t have control over anything. You can, therefore, decide how you want your experience to be. Some people like to float with the tank latch open, others don’t; some prefer relaxing music to total silence, and some prefer to have a soothing blue light turned on at all times. The good thing is, you don’t have to make these choices all at once and can adjust the settings to your surroundings as you are going through this experience.


What are the sensory deprivation effects?

First of all, the brain is supposed to enter into a deeply relaxed state as it is deprived of any simulation. Think of it as a form of meditation. In fact, if you’ve ever done hot yoga, the corpse pose at the end is probably the closest thing to a deprivation tank you’ve experienced. You felt really good in your body, relaxed in your mind and didn’t really know where your body ended in the hot air. Being in a floating tank can feel like that too, but you won’t feel the gravity this time.

Actually, that’s why floatation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (yet another name, you will have guessed) is so good to relieve pain, be they chronic, stress- or sport-related.

It has also been found to help reducing anxiety, insomnia, irritability and fatigue.

Last but not least, some studies have shown that deprivation tanks can facilitate creativity, just like sleeping or meditating.


But what is it really like?

On a whim, I decided I would test this to give you my honest opinion about it. Because it sure sounds good but is it that good? A quick internet search revealed there were a couple of floating spas in my city. The first one I called had a few open spots in the next hours, and just like that, I had booked some me time in the middle of my workday. On a side note, floating tanks are still not that mainstream, so you probably won’t wait for long for an appointment, if you do decide to embark on this journey.

Because yes, journey is the word. This is by far the best thing I didn’t know I needed. I can’t remember when was the last time I felt that good physically, mentally and emotionally—if ever. I can easily imagine why this is so good for people suffering from PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder. It’s not that I didn’t think about my daily stresses, it’s just that my brain effortlessly brushed them off. That is, until they didn’t come back at all for what seems like hours, when in fact it had just been minutes. The hour went by so fast.

In a nutshell, I feel like sensory deprivation tanks are a way to reboot yourself. You should try it at least once in your life. I know I will do it again in the future, that’s for sure.

Cover photo: float_planet | Instagram