Benefits of Float Therapy
Research on the benefits of float (or flotation) therapy is an exciting area. We’ve gathered scientific studies to help further inform anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of floatation therapy and sensory deprivation.
Clinical Floatation is a website devoted to research exploring the clinical benefits of flotation therapy or Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) which “appears to powerfully counter the deleterious effects of stress in modern life.”
Physical Benefits of Floatation Therapy
SUMMARY: The results indicated that the most severe perceived pain intensity was significantly reduced, whereas low perceived pain intensity was not influenced by the floating technique. Further, circulating levels of the noradrenaline metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol were reduced significantly in the experimental group but not in the control group following treatment. Flotation-REST treatment also elevated the participants' optimism and reduced the degree of anxiety or depression; at nighttime, patients who underwent flotation fell asleep more easily.
SUMMARY: The results demonstrated that flotation REST provided significant temporary reductions in pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety and sadness, as well as significant increases in relaxation, feelings of well-being, energy and ease of movement. There was also significant improvement in the quality of sleep.
SUMMARY: REST was consistently associated with improved range of motion and grip strength and decreased pain both within and across sessions in all subjects, with all but one subject reporting no pain post session in several instances.
SUMMARY: Results of this study indicate that flotation-REST is useful for treating chronic whiplash-associated disorder.
Beneficial Effects of Treatment with Sensory Isolation in Flotation Tank as a Preventive Health Care Intervention
SUMMARY: Stress, depression, anxiety, and worst pain were significantly decreased whereas optimism and sleep quality significantly increased for the flotation-REST group. No significant results for the control group were seen. There was also a significant correlation between mindfulness in daily life and degree of altered states of consciousness during the relaxation in the flotation tank.
Studies on Psychological Benefits of Floatation Therapy
The Elicitation of Relaxation and Interoceptive Awareness Using Floatation Therapy in Individuals with High Anxiety Sensitivity
SUMMARY: Floatation-REST generated a significant anxiolytic effect characterized by reductions in state anxiety and muscle tension and an increase in feelings of relaxation and serenity. Significant blood pressure reductions were evident throughout the float session and reached the lowest point during the diastole phase (average reduction >12 mm Hg). The float environment also significantly enhanced awareness and attention for cardiorespiratory sensations.
SUMMARY: Floatation-REST substantially reduced state anxiety. Moreover, participants reported significant reductions in stress, muscle tension, pain, depression and negative affect, accompanied by a significant improvement in mood characterized by increases in serenity, relaxation, happiness and overall well-being (p < .0001 for all variables). Further analysis revealed that the most severely anxious participants reported the largest effects.
Promising Effects of Treatment with Flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) as an Intervention for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
SUMMARY: This study found 37% of anxiety treatment group reached full remission at post-treatment. Significant beneficial effects were also found for sleep difficulties, difficulties in emotional regulation, and depression, while the treatment had ambiguous or non-existent effects on pathological worry and mindfulness. All improved outcome variables at post-treatment, except for depression, were maintained at 6 months follow. No negative effects were found.
Eliciting the Relaxation Response with the Help of Flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) in Patients with Stress-related Ailments
SUMMARY: Results indicated that pain areas, stress, anxiety, and depression decreased, whereas sleep quality, optimism, and prolactin increased. Positive effects generally maintained 4 months after treatment.
Effects of Flotation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) on Stress Related Muscle Pain: Are 33 flotation sessions more effective than 12 sessions?
SUMMARY: Analyses for subjective pain typically indicated that 12 sessions were enough to get considerable improvements and no further improvements were noticed after 33 sessions. A similar pattern was observed concerning the stress-related psychological variables: experienced stress, anxiety, depression, negative affectivity, dispositional optimism, and sleep quality. For blood pressure no effects were observed after 12 sessions, but there was a significant lower level for diastolic blood pressure after 33 sessions.
SUMMARY: Float subjects showed significant increases on the Guilford test from the pre-to post-float and meaningful increases on other thinking measures as compared to non-floating control subjects. Floating was associated with a decrease in anxiety, tension, depression, hostility, and fatigue, but with an increase in vigor and a maintenance of curiosity scores, and it is speculated that the creativity benefits may be a result of these state changes.
SUMMARY: Participants reported floating to be perceived as pleasant. An altered state of consciousness was induced, varying from a milder state including profound relaxation and altered time perception, to more powerful with perceptual changes and profound sensations such as out-of-body experience s and perinatal experiences.
Effects of Rest and Hemispheric Synchronization Compared to Effects of Rest and Guided Imagery on the Enhancement of Creativity in Problem-solving
SUMMARY: This study suggests that combining the float experience with Hemi-Sync and guided imagery provides a psychological tool to reduce anxiety levels in the interview situation; to reach deep-seated levels which have resisted penetration by most traditional means and correct those thoughts or submerged ideas; to reduce stress.
Performance Enhancement Benefits of Floatation Therapy
Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy and Napping on Mood State and Muscle Soreness in Elite Athletes
SUMMARY: A single float session significantly enhanced 15 of the 16 mood-state variables and also lowered perceived muscle soreness. Floating may be an effective tool for both physical and psychological recovery following training in elite athletes. Furthermore, napping in combination with floating, may provide additional benefits to enhance certain mood-state variables.
The Acute Effects of Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Recovery From Maximal Eccentric Exercise
SUMMARY: The results indicate that flotation REST appears to have a significant impact on blood lactate and perceived pain compared with a 1-hour passive recovery session in untrained healthy men. Flotation REST may be used for recreational and professional athletes to help reduce blood lactate levels after eccentric exercise.
Floatation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Athletic Performance
SUMMARY: This study showed significant effects of REST for intercollegiate varsity basketball players. The findings confirm that flotation REST, with taped imagery, produces better performance than the same imagery training without REST. The REST-imagery group's performance was better than that of the imagery-only group on both objective game performance scores and coaches' blind ratings of passing and shooting. REST appears to increase the effectiveness of imagery training.
SUMMARY: Post-treatment results indicated that subjects exposed to flotation REST with an imagery message performed significantly better than subjects exposed to imagery only on a measure of first service accuracy. Findings suggest that flotation REST can be used to enhance the performance of a well learned skill by athletes of high ability.