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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sensory deprivation tank therapy, or flotation therapy as some call it, is promoted as a way to find relief for insomnia, stress and aanxiety.
This type of therapy is becoming more mainstream as ‘float tank’ pop up in more and more cities.
Hayden Buell says sometimes his life can be stressful. So twice a week he climbs into a tank filled with water to relax his mind and body.
“I find it a really easy place to get into and kind of unwind most of those things,” said Buell.
The tanks used for flotation therapy vary but most are enclosed and completely dark. They typically hold about 200 gallons of water and 800 pounds of epsom salt. The combination makes anything in the tank buoyant.
“There’s between 10 and 11 inches of water. The water temperature is between 93.5 and 94 degrees. The term for it is skin receptor neutral. It’s a state we’re going for to get your skin receptors to be completely neutral to not be able to tell where your hand ends and the water starts,” said Pat Barrett with Float On, a float tank center.
Proponents say the intention is to take away all senses.
“It’s a forced meditation,” said Barrett. “You’re just lying down for 90 minutes. There’s nothing to do, so you’re just sort of there and you’re present, and then, yeah, can help people get into that practice.”
Studies have show that float therapy can help with pain management and stress relief during and after a person’s time in the water.
“After a float, I usually feel a lot calmer. There’s a period of at least a few hours where my body is, just registers as much more calm and relaxed and that typically lasts, at least, you know, a few hours,” said Buell.
Dr. Laurel Mellin, from the Emotional Brain Training Center of Excellence, points out that how long the benefits last is questionable.
“It really isn’t known what the long term affects are or how it compares to other kinds of relaxation techniques,” said Mellin.
Mellin also notes that float therapy only provides a short term fix.
“If you like it and it feels good and it helps you relax and you can afford it financially, it might be a good thing to do, but it doesn’t deal with the root cause, which is the wiring in our emotional brain and all of us need more skills to process our emotions even when we’re really stressed.”
Buell says he feels ‘de-stressed’ after each session in the tank and encourages others to give it a try.