What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

Theta-State-of-Consciousness- The conscious vibe

I first heard about float tanks on Joe Rogan and then I learned Tom Brady and Steph Curry also use them, so I had to give it a try.

The first 20 minutes felt like an hour, but the next 40 minutes felt like 5 minutes.

In this article I’ll give you a breakdown of my experience in a float tank and everything I learned afterwards.

Let’s dive in (literally).

What Is A Sensory Deprivation Tank (Isolation Tank)?

The idea behind a sensory deprivation tank is to help you focus your mind without any external distractions.

Think about it, when was the last time you were awake without any distractions or input from your senses? Probably when you were in the womb.

theta What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

Float tanks are 100% dark (eyes), soundproof (ears), the water is 98 degrees and filled with salt so you float (touch), you can still smell, and maybe taste (if you had onions for lunch). But for the most part, you senses are numb. This leaves just you, and your brain floating in bliss.

The idea behind the float tank is to access a different part of your consciousness.

When you’re aware you’re conscious. When you’re asleep, your unconscious. But what about when you’re in-between. This is called the “Theta State”

You know that feeling when you’re either just waking up (or just falling asleep) when you’re laying down, eyes closed, but you’re still aware of your surroundings. You might hear someone in the other room, or your cat walking around, but you don’t open your eyes or get up as you’re still soaking up the bliss of relaxing in bed. This “semi-aware” state is called the Theda state.

The point of the sensory dep tank is to access your Theta state allowing your body to relax and your mind to focus (or wander freely).

Sensory Deprivation Effects (What It feels Like)

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Sensory Dep tanks come in all different shapes and sizes. When you first get in the salt water feels a bit slimy, and the water a bit cool. But once you lie down and start floating, the sensory feeling of your arms and legs starts to disappear into the water which is matched to your core body temperature.

It might feel a bit eerie at first as your body acclimates. Your head rests on a floating on a pillow and the pressure of gravity on your muscles and joints ceases to exist.

The dep tank is small but it doesn’t seem any more claustrophobic than closing your eyes. Even when you open your eyes it’s so dark they might as well be closed.

Your mind races for the first few minutes as you realize you have an hour to kill before you get out. You’re internal voice starts to wonder what the heck you’re going to do for an hour just floating here.

You’re self-awareness is both heightened and diminished at the same time. The salt water briefly stings any open cuts, and your brain immediately focuses on your bodily sensations.

Then your mind starts to wander as you think about something random. It feels similar to when you’re laying in bed thinking about your day when you can’t fall asleep.

But then something strange happens. You start to wonder how long it’s been. Your internal voice struggles to make sense of your surroundings. Has it been 10 minutes or 50?

You go back to day dreaming in a blissful almost laser focused state of mind. Maybe your toe touches the wall, but you just ignore it trying to focus on your strange state of consciousness.

But are you dreaming? You just realized there’s no difference when you open and close your eyes because it’s so black. How long has it been, it’s definitely been 10 minutes, but has it been 20 or even 30 minutes yet?

And then, the lights slowly come on indicating that it’s been an hour already.

How? An hour already? You might feel a little confused like you just went through a time warp. But you’ll also feel incredibly relaxed.

Maybe more relaxed than you’ve felt in years.

You’ll shower to rinse off the salt water, put your clothes back on, and then walk out almost stunned at your experience.

This is exactly how I felt my first time. So I signed up for another float to try the experience again.

The next time was a lot easier. I knew what to expect, and I was able to relax quicker and probe deeper into my internal thoughts and identify the best ways to process and reflect on my life experience.

Definitely an experience I would recommend everyone should try at least once if not more.

Do You Have Hallucinations In A Sensory Deprivation Tank?

A lot of people ask if you hallucinate in the dep tank. I personally have not. But I have seen some interesting patterns.

things you see in the tank What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

Some people think float tanks are like a psychedelic experience. I’ve had psychedelic experiences and the float tank is definitely not that.

When people think of hallucinating they usually think of seeing things that aren’t there. Like a pink dragon or melting lollipops. But hallucinating in a dep tank may be a little different.

Have you ever closed your eyes and looked at the sun? You start to “”see”” patterns and maybe even vivid colors. This is a similar effect you can get from the sensory dep tank, if you’re able to focus well enough.

What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

I certainly wouldn’t call this hallucinating, but it is an interesting mind trick that commands your focus and attention.

Benefits Of A Sensory Deprivation Tank

Studies have found numerous benefits that come out of regular float tank use, both physical benefits and mental benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the most common benefits.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks And Mental Wellness

The sensory tank give you a place of tranquility to access and process your thoughts and emotions. processing these thoughts and emotions can lead to a higher level of self awareness, higher levels of consciousness, and a clearer mind.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks And Anxiety

Anxiety levels in today’s world are at all time highs. Coincidently anxiety prescriptions are also at record levels. So can float tanks help with anxiety ? Turns out, YES.

In 2018 Dr. Justin S. Feinstein lead a study on float tanks vs. anxiety. His team found that “a single one-hour session in a sensory deprivation tank was capable of a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood.”

Another study in 2016 lead by Dr. Kristoffer Jonsson from Sweden found that more studies exploring float therapy could be a fruitful endeavor for advancing treatments in Anxiety.

According to WebMDThe main benefit of using a sensory deprivation tank is to ease mental anxiety and muscle tension. Because the Epsom salt keeps the water buoyant, you can fully relax all of your muscles by effortlessly floating. Some say it’s a similar experience to zero gravity.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks And Pain

In 2014, researchers at Karlstad University, Department of Psychology found that well the dep tank certainly may help with chronic pain, the data is sparse.

The dep tank is certainly relaxing, and a relaxed mind can lead to less pain, but there needs to be more evidence before researchers can say for sure to what extent dep tanks can reduce pain.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks And Athletic Performance.

NBA star Steph Curry famously used a float tank before his epic NBA final performance and Tom Brady also uses float tanks. If Tom Brady uses it, enough said right? Not quite.

It’s not about just using the float tank and you’ll perform better. It’s about how you use the float tank.

In 2016 Dr. Matthew W. Driller found that float tanks improved both physical and mental recovery after an intense training sessions.

Any athlete knows that sports and competition are as much a mental game as a physical game. You can prepare physically by training or going to the gym, but how do you prepare mentally?

Float tanks allow athletes the opportunity to mentally prepare for competition. During the 1-2 hour long float you can visualize and run through infinite different scenarios about different situations and how you might react in those situations.

When game time comes, you’re ready for anything your opponent might throw at you beciase you’ve already mentally prepared.

Sensory Deprivation Tank Process (What To Expect)

The float tank process is pretty simple. First you choose your time, usually between 1-2 hours, then you enter a private room where you shower first and then slip into the tank.

float final What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

Most people go in naked, but you can certainly wear a bathing suit if you choose (not recommended).

The tank is usually light at first with ambient LED’s and then you shut the door and the timer starts and the lights go off.

In some places you can choose to have ambient soothing music in the background, but I wouldn’t to start as it may just be a distraction for first time floaters.

Once the float begins, just relax.

After your time is up, the lights will automatically come back on and a tranquil sound will let you know it’s time to stand up.

Once you’re out of the float tank you’ll have to shower again to wash the salt off. Then put you clothes on and start telling people about your experience.

Are There Any Float Tank Risks

The biggest risk of a float tank is getting the salty water in your eye. Float tanks have a high concentration of Epsom salt in order to keep the water buoyant. This makes for a fun floating experience, but be careful not to rub your eye or splash when you’re in there.

Float Tank Experience Reviews

“”It seemed like only minutes had passed before it was time to end my float

Was the deep sense of relaxation I got from floating a placebo effect, or the result of actual changes in my brain? I’m not sure, and I probably won’t find out: the science behind floating is still so new that it’s tough to point to any concrete evidence of therapeutic benefits.

But to be honest, I don’t really care. After my experience with sensory deprivation I’m already counting the days until I can get back in the tank.””

Deanna Debara

new floatation tank What Does A Float Tank Feel Like. Here’s My Experience (and the science)

 “”I had only ever done 60 minutes before. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes! I, personally, am really fidgety, so it takes me a while to relax. Then the extra time, i *really* relaxed – Other Worldly Relaxed. It was great. “”

Heather Q.

“”What an amazing experience!!!

I was totally afraid at 1st, But once I settled in, the float took me away!! I went to Egypt, floated down a river, visited with my mom who passed away in 2014, and felt like I was in the uterus of the universe.

Let me mention as well I was smiling and laughing the whole time too! “”

Pam F.

“”For the rest of that night, I felt rejuvenated, like a weight was lifted off of me. I was really happy and optimistic. “”

Maddie Moats,

“”I’m smitten with “floating” mostly because it’s lowered my baseline stress level. I’ve also regained the ability to relax myself on demand. At the moment, I’m going so frequently because I love it, and also because it’s a 5 mile round trip walk, and I haven’t been able to exercise with my neck injury. It’s been a Godsend, and if you struggle with stress or anxiety, I urge you to try it.””

Stephen Guise

Conclusion

Sensory deprivation tanks are an unusual and welcomed experience for anyone looking for a moment to relax, think, meditate, or just to take a moment to yourself.

I personally use the float tank as a tool to help me find clarity when life gets complex. The sensory isolation forces my mind into a relaxed state of consciousness where I can pick and choose which thoughts, ideas, and feeling to explore deeper.

Sometimes the answers to life’s problems are obvious, we’re just too distracted by life (phones, internet, social media, reading headlines, kids, fiends, Netflix, ect) to explore our minds deep enough to find answers that we feel good about.

I couldn’t recommend a float tank experience enough, JUST DON’T GET THE WATER IN YOUR EYES.

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