Many have decided to take a dip in the Epsom salt-filled water chambers that poured into spas and gyms over the past decade. These chambers, known as float tanks, promise both mental and physical health benefits. Since 2011, 149 centers with float tanks have opened, and hundreds more will open in the next couple of years.
Netflix’s 2016 hit, Stranger Things, featured a makeshift version of a float tank used for sensory deprivation, and it’s what makes float tanks such a useful tool. Similarly to exercise, time in a float tank helps your body release endorphins that provide euphoria and fight stress. As stress fades away, many experience intense muscle relaxation, explaining why athletes like Stephen Curry flock to the tanks. Researchers have also been finding that the tanks’ calming environment can help those suffering from autism, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
“Flotation is getting adopted because our world is becoming an increasingly stressful place,” said Graham Talley, co-founder of Float On, a float tank company.
“The tanks force people to slow down and pause rather than pushing faster and faster,” Talley said. “After people float, we hear them say all the time, ‘I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed.’”
In addition to sensory deprivation benefits, the Epsom salt holds advantages by delivering magnesium to the body. About 68% of Americans don’t get the recommended daily magnesium intake, putting them at risk for heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Absorbing magnesium through Epsom Salt in float tanks helps people meet their intake and helps reduce inflammation throughout their bodies.
For first-timers trying the float tank, be prepared to enter a chamber filled with about a foot of water. The 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt enable you to float effortlessly on the water’s surface while lying on your back. The water will be body temperature to contribute to the sensory deprivation.
If you want the full experience, shut the door, turn off the lights, and stay in for 60 to 90 minutes, allowing yourself to enter a meditative state. Some participants have had hallucinations while letting their thoughts wander.
Everyone’s floating experiences are unique, and even if you don’t want to go full sensory-deprivation, it’s not a bad idea to take an hour and a half alone with your thoughts.