A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine explores sensory deprivation in a flotation tank as a form of preventative healthcare. Its results showed substantial reductions in levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and along with improved sleep quality and overall mood, proving that flotation therapy is an excellent way to prevent and treat many emotional and physical ailments.
Sensory deprivation cuts off all the senses from the mind, removing it from the average barrage of stressful situations that most of us face each day. In the absence of distracting external stimuli, the mind enters a state of deep relaxation and meditation. The research shows how this state can actually be medicinal, as it has tremendous potential to reduce stress and thus the damaging symptoms that come with it.
Chronic stress expresses itself through things like depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Flotation therapy can directly relieve this, but how?
The relaxation response method (RR) is essentially the exact opposite of the fight-or-flight response. It is the physiological process that relieves stress, occurring during states of deep relaxation. RR is able to combat stress so efficiently because of its calming effects on the parasympathetic nervous system, the portion of the nervous system responsible for many physiological changes within the body including energy conservation and deep relaxation. It is through this process that RR lowers heart rate and blood pressure and slows down breathing.
The authors of the study noted that to successfully ignite the RR response while the body is under stress it is crucial to reduce all sensory input and movement by the body — which makes floatation therapy the perfect solution. The research described the mechanisms of this method: “During flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) an individual lay in a horizontal floating posture immersed in highly concentrated salt water (magnesium sulphate) in a flotation tank. All incoming stimuli are reduced to a minimum during this period (usually 45 minutes), i.e. sound and light, and the water is heated to skin temperature. ”
Sixty-five participants — 14 men and 51 women — took part in the study. The participants were divided into a flotation-REST group, which consisted of 37 people, and a wait-list control group, with 28 people. The flotation group received 12 45-minute sessions over the course of seven weeks. Subjects were assessed for depression, anxiety, stress, sleep quality, energy, pain, and optimism before and after the study. These same measurements were assessed for the control group.
The flotation group displayed radically improved scores in comparison to the control group, with participants exhibiting reduced anxiety, depression, pain, and stress.
Here’s Some Data
The average score for stress before flotation treatment was 1.86; afterwards, it dropped to a remarkable 0.95. The control group scored 1.84 before and 1.89 after treatment, meaning their stress actually increased during this period.
Had a nice and friendly staff member help us out! A great first experience and I hope to be back soon! Unfortunately the power went out towards the end but that is beyond their control as blackouts occur quite frequently in Vietnam
Great experience! It was my first time there and the staff member/ owner took his time to explain to us the benefits and walked us through the process. Unfortunately there was a power trip towards the end of my session, but the staff member/ owner were witty calm about it and brought it a huge speaker to wake us up (just in case we hadn’t got up).
This is an absolutley amazing find in Hanoi. I always tell people that floating is the perfect practice if your looking to improve your health, inner peace, and general wellbeing - and that is certainly the case at 'float Hanoi' as well! I have been floating regularly for a few years in the US, and I can say that the tanks and facilities here are truly top of the line. Also Minh, one of the owners, was incredibly welcoming and helpful - he even took me to find an ATM machine after my float so i could pay him! Then followed by showing me a gas station so I could fill up my motorbike (Ive only been here two days). 🙂 Float Hanoi exemplifies what selfless service is all about - I feel at home in Hanoi already just from my first experience here (Of course im also relaxed and rejuvinated from the float itself). I bought a package of 5 "one hour" floats, and when those are up, I will be buying a package of 5 "ninety minute" floats. All that said, just do yourself a big favor and give this place a real shot! You wont be at all dossapointed. ????
The last time I floated was back in Bangkok in 2019. My husband and I were regulars at the facility there. The Hanoi float center feels much more “homemade” than the one in Bangkok. Not saying that neither is better than the other; the setting feels very different, which is something to keep in mind. Otherwise, the tanks work the same - the only difference would be that you have the option to pry the tank’s cover open slightly with the ones in BKK but here, it’s either fully close or open, which can be uncomfortable for first-time floaters. Also, if you haven’t meditated for a long time, it can be pretty challenging during the first few sessions as your mind WILL keep wandering. We did the couple floating session for 60 minutes, and we didn’t regret giving it a try. It was nice, dark, and quiet (something you don’t get much from living in Hanoi). The staff understands and speaks English very well. The online reservation was hassle free, and the team will contact you a day before by phone to reconfirm. Note that they are not really responsive on Facebook messenger, so it’s better to call. It’s a straight forward experience, you go in, pay, rinse a bit, float, get out, rinse again, dress up and leave. Nothing to complain about and would personally return.
Quietest place in HCMC*. I've been floating for over four years and was so happy to find this place in Vietnam. The set up is very professional and sanitary. Owners are knowledgeable and extremely helpful. The prices do seem a bit high and geared towards tourists. I'll will return, but not as frequently as I'd like. *I would not suggest you float if there's going to be rain. During my float it started to pour and the noise was to the point you can not tune it out. I had to cut my float short as a result. No offer of offset cost or float time in the future, disappointing.
The score for anxiety for the flotation group was 7.92 before treatment and 4.28 afterwards. On the other hand, the control group scored 7.03 before and 6.96 afterwards.
For depression, the flotation group started out with a score of 4.42, which then dropped to 2.25 after treatment. The control group started at 4.00 and ended the period at 4.30, another increase.
Researchers also saw an improvement in various lifestyle factors. Sleep quality, pain, optimism, and mindfulness were all measured and shown to increase with treatment. These results further strengthen the case for flotation therapy.
In the conclusion of the study the researchers were confident that flotation therapy can be an excellent practice to improve overall health by greatly reducing stress (and thereby stress related illnesses) while increasing psychological factors in healthy participants as well.
Isn’t it just amazing what a little bit of rest and relaxation can do for our mental and physical well-being? While it’s easy to say we should all just make the time to relax more, the issue here is that many of us won’t. If you actually make the effort to go to a float spa, then you will be dedicating this time to yourself and will experience the ultimate form of relaxation. In fact, flotation therapy is one of the most potent methods of activating the relaxation response, and shows how our environment can directly impact our physiological and psychological well-being. Instead of taking prescription drugs for such ailments, consider giving this a try!
Have you tried a sensory deprivation tank? Please share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments section below, or on our Facebook Community.