Want to float your way to less stress, anxiety, depression, and pain? Though it sounds too good to be true, science says it’s possible.
Floating, also known as float therapy or sensory deprivation therapy, is the act of entering a dark, soundproof room filled with 12 inches of purified, body-temperature water that is saturated with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, allowing you to simply float, completely weightless and devoid of stimulus.
By eliminating the forces of gravity pulling on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, floating effortlessly relieves pain, promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves quality of sleep. Below, we share the science behind floating and discuss the amazing benefits of this natural therapy.
Origins of floating
Floating in salt water for therapeutic reasons is not new. People have made pilgrimages to the Dead Sea for centuries. However, over the past 15 years, there’s been a 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 for people with these conditions, he decided to team up with two business partners — Glenn and Lee Perry — to develop a commercial float tank that anyone could use.
However, at Sanctuary Float Spa, our founder recognized the limitations of the float tank. The tight, confined space of traditional float tanks and float pods is off-putting to most individuals, especially those prone to claustrophobia. That’s why our founder custom designed five private float suites. Each of our float suites is 9 feet long, 7 feet high, and 6 feet wide. Individuals step into the “float room” through a glass door and can control the lights and audio throughout the entire float session.
5 amazing benefits of floating
Floating decreases anxiety and depression
Under stress, your hypothalamus (the almond-sized part of your brain just above your brainstem) signals your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic stress leads to an overactive hypothalamus, which can lead to depression. Floating helps combat depression and anxiety by minimizing your cortisol production.
In one study, 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.
In a single-subject study, a 24-year-old diagnosed with autism, PTSD, anxiety, and depression participated in regular float sessions for one and a half years. She experienced beneficial therapeutic effects including improved quality of life, subjective sense of wellbeing, and healthier behaviors. The study quotes her stating: “I feel good, well, like a new person, and so it has made a great difference… It really has and I really want to continue with this because I really need it.”
Floating lowers stress
Floating combats stress in two ways. First, the water’s magnesium inhibits ACTH, a hormone that drives your adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol. Magnesium also improves sleep quality, which contributes to feeling less stressed.
The sensory deprivation component of floating also 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.
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.
Floating relieves physical pain
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. 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.
Floating improves quality of sleep
Floating has been shown to increase sleep time and boost sleep quality. Several studies have measured significant reductions in cortisol production in individuals who consistently float. Cortisol is a hormone with broad-reaching effects in the body. It helps regulate your metabolism; it alters immune system responses, it suppresses inflammation, and it is intricately linked to stress and sleep.
Cortisol—like other hormones—runs on a 24-hour bio clock in your body. Cortisol levels peak first thing in the morning, helping deliver the alertness and energy needed to start your day. Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with sleep.
Floating has been clinically shown to reduce cortisol levels. In a recent study, people who floated eight times over a two-week period saw their cortisol levels decrease by almost 22 percent.  In another study, scientists found that one hour of floating is equivalent to four hours of sleep. 
Floating enhances mental clarity and focus
Floating is a safe and natural way to enhance mental clarity and focus. A zero-gravity, sensory-free experience, floating provides the perfect conditions for your brain to rest. In one study, researchers measured creativity and focus levels of college students before and after floating. One group spent an hour floating, while the second group spent the hour simply relaxing in a dark room. The students who floated showed “significant increases” on the creativity and concentration tests. 
The float suites at Sanctuary Float Spa attempt to remove all external stimuli of the outside world. Here’s how:
- The super-saturated Epsom salt water is precisely heated to human skin temperature (93.5°F). After several minutes in the float suite, you lose awareness of where your body stops and the water starts.
- Users have the option to float in complete darkness. Light controls located inside of the float suites can be adjusted to emit various colors or can be turned off.
- Users also have the option to float in total silence. Audio controls located inside of the float suites can be adjsuted to preferred volume levels. If you choose to listen to music during your float, we have curated a soundtrack of frequency healing tones that bring the body back into balance and aid in healing.
Discover the healing benefits of floating
A powerful way to heal and restore your mind and body, floating is a simple, effective way to invest in your health, happiness and well-being. Are you wondering what floating can do for you? Schedule your float therapy session at Sanctuary Float Spa today.