Curious about floating?

Floating isn’t new but it’s getting a lot of buzz right now because it has so many health benefits. It’s moving more into the main stream.

Origins of floating

Floating in salt water for therapeutic reasons isn’t new.

However, over the past 5 years, there’s been a serious renewed interest in the practice.

In the late ’50s, neuroscientist and psychoanalyst John C. Lilly, MD studied the effects of sensory deprivation flotation on anxiety disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to the impressive benefits he saw, he developed a commercial float tank that anyone could use.

Floating flourished in the 60s more for the “experience” rather than it’s potential to heal.  Then in the ‘70s, concerns over water cleanliness halted the industry’s growth. Nonetheless, the scientific study of floating — namely the effects of isolation on the brain — continued within the academic community.

Now floating has resurfaced and there are Floatation centres all across the world and in our backyard. My favourite is The Private Sea in Mornington.

So why would you float?

7 major health benefits of floating


Floating lowers stress

Floating combats stress in two main ways. First, the water’s magnesium turns down your stress hormones cortisol and it’s driver ACTH and improves your sleep quality, which contributes to feeling less stressed.

Secondly, the sensory holiday floating gives you minimizes stress. In a recent study, people who floated eight times in two weeks saw their cortisol decrease by 21.6 percent. They also showed a 50.5 percent decrease in cortisol variability, meaning, they handled stressful situations better without the cortisol spikes.[1]

A meta-analysis of 27 studies revealed that floating also has relaxation, mood, and performance-enhancing effects, particularly in cases of burnout or chronic fatigue.[2]

That feeling of blissful, nothingness doesn’t only last for the 60 minutes in the tank but is proven to then have lasting effects when you return to the ‘real world’ to help you deal with everyday difficulties.


Floating increases magnesium levels

Magnesium is the fourth most essential mineral in our bodies, yet most of us have magnesium deficiency. Not having enough magnesium in your body can lead to numerous health problems.

Magnesium has over 235 enzymatic reactions in the body. It has connections to bone metabolism, cardiovascular health, neurological activity, temperature regulations, hormone balancing, muscle contraction/relaxation and nerve impulses.

After just one hour in the float tank and soaking in 350 kg of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), your magnesium levels are boosted well above your daily required amount and will stay regulated for long periods of time.


Floating decreases anxiety and depression

Chronic stress can cause anxiety and depression through an overactive hypothalamus, which activates high cortisol and adrenaline. Floating helps combat depression and anxiety by minimizing your cortisol production.[3]

In one study[4], people who floated for 12 sessions noticed decreased pain, stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improved sleep quality and general optimism. The results lasted up to four months post-flotation.


Floating relieves physical pain and inflammation

For people with chronic, stress-related muscle pain and burnout-related depression, floating served as an integral part of pain treatment plans, in one study.[5] Since floating oxygenates your body by promoting vasodilation — better blood flow to the brain, organs, and limbs — it serves to minimize muscular pain and even pain from degenerative disc disease or herniated disks.

Specifically floating provides significant reductions in pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, and sadness for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Floating also increases feelings of relaxation, well-being, energy, and ease of movement in the same group of people.[6]

Your circulation improved, your muscles hurt less and you’re less stressed – from absorbing magnesium alone. And sulphate helps your brain form tissue and alleviate joint pain.


Floating improves sleep

A bad night’s sleep can be a precursor to many ailments and diseases. Not getting that good night’s rest can make you cranky, unfocused and impede on other people’s days.

With floatation you soak are immersed in a magnesium bath.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, relaxed muscles lead to a non-stressful sleep and can prevent insomnia for troubled sleepers. Even if you don’t experience sleep problems, after 1 hour in the tank (equivalent to 4 hours’ recuperative sleep) you will find yourself in a deeper realm of relaxation and comfort that night and feel much more rejuvenated the next morning.


Floating benefits creativity

Creative performers, musicians and writers also gained from floating.

A study in the journal Music and Medicine found that floating improved the technical ability of musicians during jazz improvisation.[7]


Floating deepens a meditation experience

Have you never been able to meditate? Tried sitting still, not hearing the outside world carry on as you try to quiet the mind and reach an enlightened state.

The float tank refocuses your attention and aids you to stay in the moment by cutting out all distractions that would interfere with your practice. So, a ‘theta state’ is reached more easily.

In theta you are more efficient in your ability to learn, creativity and memory retention.

The experience of mindfulness does not only last in the tank but will drape and flow through you for days or weeks following, aiding you to be truly present in life.


What to expect with your first float?

Most float tanks are 2.5 metres long, 1.2 metres tall, which means you can sit up inside. Tanks are typically heated to 35 deg C and are filled with 350 kilograms of Epsom salts and 760 litres of water.

Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) makes everybody weightless so even if you don’t float that well in a pool, you’re able to float in a float tank.

You can go in the infrared sauna before or after to complete the experience.

It feels so good to be weightless!

Bottom line is everybody’s float experience is different – relaxed, meditative, creative, felt optimistic and bright for a few days afterwards.

Floating is now my go to gift for people who live near the centre (The Private Sea Mornington) – an experiential gift that gives people that serene sensation of presence and weightlessness.

Hope that gave you some insight into the world of floating.

Julie xx








[7] https://neuroaestheticsnet.files.wordpress.c…