Benefits of Flotation-REST Supported by Science & Research
In the 1950s, doctors Jay Shurley and John Lilly at the National Institute of Mental Health became interested in learning more about how the brain responds to environments with no external sensory input. As a result, they created Floatation-REST. (Feinstein et. al, 2018).
Prior to the decade of the 2010s, there was only limited and sparse research on Floatation-REST. Its headway didn’t start until the 1980s and 1990s which focused primarily on healthy individuals. These studies confirmed the effectiveness of meditation in reducing stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. In the last ten years, floatation therapy has been studied to see if it can help people with mental health issues. The initial results were promising, so more research was done. A new Floatation-REST research lab opened in 2015 at LIBR’s Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR).
Flotation-REST and Anxiety
When you’re floating, you’re immersed in a sensory-deprivation tank with water heated to skin temperature and infused with Epsom salt, which makes you feel weightless.
The brain is supposed to enter a more relaxed state as you float in complete darkness. Restricted environmental stimulation therapy, or “REST,” is a form of this treatment that’s been around for more than 50 years. In recent years, celebrities like podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, athletes Steph Curry and Tom Brady, and actor Jessica Pimentel have endorsed it, boosting its popularity.
In the Float Clinic and Research Center at LIBR, researchers had a first-hand look at the neurological effects of floating, thanks to the presence of floatation tanks and a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) facility. As a result of the institute’s initial research, clinically anxious people who used float therapy reported lower levels of anxiety, less muscle tension, and less pain associated with stress.
Research continues to show that float tanks’ lack of sensory stimulation can “shut down” sensory cortices, resulting in reduced anxiety and increased interoception. The results are impressive.
Flotation-REST and Eating Disorders
When it comes to anorexia, flotation therapy can effectively address the psychological symptoms by helping the patient regain a more realistic and non-exaggerated perspective of their body. When you’re floating, your sensitivity to inside sensations is amplified. Interoceptive awareness describes this type of consciousness. A researcher at the LIBR institute, Dr. Justin Feinstein, believes that a rise in interceptive feelings can help you feel more grounded and real again.
In a recent study, anorexics were asked to choose a body image outline that matched their own. They were asked to choose between an extremely thin, average, or overweight physique and to describe how they felt their body looked now. A series of float therapy treatments was given to them before and after the study. The outcomes were amazing all around. After that, everyone chose a less extreme version of themselves. We believe this is due to improved interoceptive awareness from regular floating.
Dr. Feinstein has proven that floating can benefit all anxiety disorders by lowering self-referential brain activity. No lighting, no sound, no gravity, and no distractions are required to achieve this. It’s as simple as an hour apart from a daily barrage of twisted flaws and deficiencies. Floating is “meditation on steroids” and a wonderful instrument for free expression.
Floatation REST and Your Immune System
The way we think, feel, move, breathe, eat, and drink all have a significant impact on our immune system’s functioning and overall health. Unfortunately, we’re all seeing an uptick in societal stress right now. High levels of stress have a negative impact on one’s ability to sleep. Chronic pain, anxiety, and despair are all exacerbated when people aren’t getting enough sleep.
By using the sensory deprivation tank, you can reduce stress and tension in your body. Floating allows you to completely relax all of your muscles because of the buoyancy of the Epsom salt and water solution. It’s like being in a zero gravity environment.
For decades, researchers have looked into the connection between floatation therapy and increased immune function. Researchers John Turner and Thomas Fine found that floatation-REST reduces levels of epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol, two hormones that affect how well the immune system works, in a study conducted in 1983.
“High cortisol levels have been related to a multitude of diseases,” journalist Michael Hutchison wrote in The Book of Floating, published in 1984. They weaken the immune system and amplify the damaging effects of adrenaline on tissues by depressing the body’s defense mechanisms.
So it turned out that using the float tank’s soothing features to direct all of your positive and healing thoughts towards a damaged part of your body can not only avoid certain ailments but also speed up recovery from a variety of illnesses.
An Escape from the World
In order for our brains to recover from the chaos, we need breaks and adequate amounts of time, which a floatation session can provide.
As the session progresses, your mind is allowed to sink further and further into a deep state of relaxation. There is a sense of relief because all of your concerns and anxieties have been gently put to rest.