Benefits of Floating
Floating is a powerful self-care tool. By removing the environmental and physical demands on the body, floating creates the perfect atmosphere that allows your brain to rest, reset and establish a healthy balance between body and mind.
The following is an excerpt from "The Tim Ferriss Show" podcast discussion with Dan Engle, M.D., a psychiatrist and neurologist, who combines functional medicine with integrative psychiatry to enhance peak performance and regenerative health.
Although the episode focuses on introspection and self-awareness through psychedelics, floatation is introduced as a more accessible modality that can provide many of the benefits as psychotropic agents without the associated risks.
Listen to the entire podcast, or skip to their discussion on floatation around [1:35:00].
This segment is also highlighted in Tim's book "Tools of Titans":
Dan: "Floating is the first time that we've been without sensory experience, sensory environmental stimuli, since we were conceived. There is no sound, no sight, no temperature gradient, and no gravity. So all of the brain's searching and gating information from the environment is relaxed. Everything that was in the background -- kind of 'behind the curtain' -- can now be exposed. When done consistently over time, it's essentially like meditation on steroids. It starts to recalibrate the entire neuroendocrine system. People who are running in stress mode or sympathetic overdrive start to relax that over time, and you get this bleed-over effect into everyday life. It's not just what happens in the tank. It continues outside of the tank. You see heart rate normalize, hypertension normalize, cortisol normalize. Pain starts to resolve. Metabolic issues start to resolve."
"Anxiety, insomnia, and mental chattering can be significantly improved in [2 to 3 times per week for a total of] anywhere between 3 and 7 sessions. For pain, it's normally 7 to 10 sessions. I would recommend doing a 2-hour float if people are able."
Tim: According to Dan, most people get exponentially more benefit from a single 2-hour session than 2 separate 1-hour sessions. Nonetheless, 2-hour floats still make me fidgety, so I routinely do 1-hour sessions. Keeping it simple, Dan suggests you start with 2 to 3 floats inside of 1 month. "I've never had anybody come back and say 'Yeah, that didn't work.'"
Stress/anxiety & depression
- The buoyancy created, by the nearly 1000 lbs of Epsom Salt, allows the body to relax in a way that decreases cortisol levels, balances hormones and lowers blood pressure.
- The deep relaxation that floating provides, leads to lasting improvement of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and burnout.
- While medication is beneficial for many anxiety and mood disorders, many classes of the drugs are habit-forming, and all have side effects that patients often find unpleasant.
- Using functional MRI, which provides images of the brain's metabolic activity, studies show that after a 60 minute session, floating quiets activity in the amygdala, the brain's center of fear and anxiety.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Scientists are discovering through their research that floating reduces anxiety in ways that rival prescription drugs.
- The magnesium contained in the Epsom Salt inhibits ACTH, a hormone that drives your adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol.
- As reported in Time, after several float sessions, Veterans report a significant decrease in anxiety and hyper-vigilance making their transition back into civilian life easier.
- The buoyancy created in the tank allows the body to relax in a way that decreases cortisol levels, balances hormones and lowers blood pressure.
- The quiet darkness provided by the float tank lets the brain relax and reset. This makes it easier for the brain to downshift from alpha waves into theta waves. Theta waves, which are the gateway to sleep, allow the body to transition into the delta waves required for REM. Floatation therapy sessions allow people to sleep better during the night.
- Some doctors suggest 1 hour of sleep in a float tank is equivalent to 8 hours of normal sleep.
- Insomnia sufferers find it difficult to relax their muscles at night. Floating reduces the effects of gravity on the body and retrains muscles so that they are able reach deeper levels of relaxation when sleeping at home.
- Fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients find that floating not only eases their pain, but that the effects can last for several days. This often allows them to cut back on their daily medications.
- A Swedish scientific study on the effects of floatation therapy as a treatment for Fibromyalgia demonstrated a significant reduction in stress and anxiety, pain, and muscle tension.
- The deep relaxation achieved while floating allows the brain to go into a wave pattern known as Theta state where the mind becomes highly suggestible, thus increasing mental focus and visualization.
athletic performance and recovery
- Many athletes float for the recovery benefits of the Epsom Salt, but also for reflection, relaxation, and mental focus it provides.
- According to the Universal Health Institute, the magnesium in Epsom Salt can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, ease muscle pain and soreness, regulate electrolytes and relieve stress.
- Houston Texans linebacker, J.J. Watt is so dedicated to recovery science that he told Men's Health magazine he naps in his floatation tank. "I love it. Sleep is something people overlook," Watt says.