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The Power of Flotation Therapy: A Guide


The Power of Float Therapy

In the quest for better mental health, overall wellness, and longevity, many individuals turn to various forms of alternative therapies, such as meditation, acupuncture, massage, infrared saunas, and more. The ultimate reward is to find the perfect balance—benefitting both the body and mind. 

But what if you could simply “float” your worries away?

Alongside the integration of technology into our daily lives, mental health disorders continue to rise worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “About 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition.”

While many experts point fingers at technology and social media, the good news is that we have the power to introduce wellness regimes that help us recalibrate. And flotation therapy is one of them!

Flotation therapy offers the perfect way to digitally detox (even for just a brief time) and simply “be”—practices that many of us don’t do enough. In many ways, it’s like a retreat for your mind, body, and soul—a moment of sensory deprivation without constant tugs at your attention.

So, in this article, we uncover everything you need to know about flotation therapy. What is it exactly? Is there science behind it? What are the benefits? And should you try it?

What is Flotation Therapy?

Flotation therapy involves lying face-up in a saltwater tank, also called a sensory deprivation tank, float tank, or isolation tank, where the water is at the same temperature as the skin. The tank often offers a pitch-black, soundproof, and lightproof environment.

So, what do you do in a flotation therapy session? Well, you usually just float. In many ways, it’s a form of meditation. Usually, these sessions are between 30 to 90 minutes long, with first-time floaters requiring about 15 to 20 minutes to truly relax.

In most flotation therapy facilities, you’ll also be required to shower before and after your session. And with regular floating, you might just find you’re able to handle life’s stressors that much easier!

But let’s rewind a second. Where and how did flotation therapy start?

While you may have heard Joe Rogan or other celebrities discuss flotation therapy, its history actually dates back several decades. In the 1950s, Dr. Jay Shurley and Dr. John Lilly at the National Institute of Mental Health explored how the human brain would respond in an essentially sensory-free environment.

In fact, the first type of “flotation therapy” tank sounds quite daunting and a little bit scary for the average person. The first iterations had participants fully immersed in water with a helmet attached to oxygen tubes. However, this was primarily reserved for NASA astronauts preparing to land on the moon.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the modern float tank was born. Glenn Perry, along with Dr. John Lilly, created a horizontal version of the tank with saltwater. This eliminated the need for a helmet and allowed the individual to float effortlessly instead. 

Yet, flotation therapy didn’t quite take off here. Many feared the claustrophobic and confined nature of the tank, meaning it didn’t hit the mainstream until the last 10 to 20 years.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many research studies supported the benefits of flotation therapy, potentially leading to its popularity. As such, commercial float centres and facilities opened worldwide, offering this wellness experience to the masses.

Today, many individuals turn to flotation therapy as a way to relax and de-stress. As a great addition to any wellness routine, flotation therapy is well-known for its ability to improve mental health, help with pain management, improve athletic recovery, and enhance overall physical well-being (More on this below!).

The Science Behind Flotation Therapy

The power of flotation therapy lies in the Epsom salt content in the water. This saltwater gives way to increased buoyancy, allowing you to float effortlessly. 

As you might already know, the tank is an enclosed space, and often, earplugs are worn. In turn, this allows for a complete sensory deprivation experience. Ultimately, this puts you in a theta brain wave state.

Theta brain waves are associated with the moment right before you fall asleep. However, they can also occur in wakefulness during moments of deep relaxation, such as flotation therapy.

It’s thought theta brain waves may play a role in memory consolidation, learning, and more. It’s further theorized that these brain waves can boost intuition and creativity.

The Benefits of Flotation Therapy

From reducing stress to potentially reducing chronic pain, flotation therapy has been extensively studied for its renowned physical and mental benefits. So, let’s take a closer look.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

Sensory deprivation tanks have the potential to lower stress and anxiety, helping you find a state of relaxation. In fact, this is largely why many people use flotation therapy; ultimately, it can give you a moment of rest and peace without distractions or digital devices.

Pain Relief and Muscle Relaxation

Research on individuals suffering from chronic pain shows that flotation therapy has the power to significantly reduce perceived pain intensity and reduce muscle tension. However, it’s worth noting that flotation therapy won’t be the end-all, be-all to most individuals’ chronic pain issues, specifically in the long term.

Improvement in Sleep Quality

Surprisingly, some research suggests that flotation therapy may be a worthwhile venture for those with insomnia. In fact, some studies maintained the beneficial effects on sleep six months post-flotation experience. 

Enhancement of Focus and Creativity

After your flotation therapy session, this might be the perfect time to get creative or devote time to a task that requires concentration and focus. Research shows how sensory deprivation tanks may improve mental clarity and even slow down our thoughts.

Acceleration of Workout and Injury Recovery

If you’re looking for a new way to recover post-workout, flotation therapy might be it. Studies show how post-workout flotation therapy decreased muscle soreness and even enhanced performance readiness.  

Since a sensory deprivation tank helps decrease stress and lower muscle tension, it may also benefit those recovering from an injury. After all, everything in the body is connected. 

Many times, after injury, muscular tension is common. Yet, a flotation therapy session might just help reduce this, lowering your pain and accelerating the healing process.

Increase in Blood Flow and Normalization of Blood Pressure

Flotation therapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system associated with relaxation. In contrast, it also dampens the response of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as our  “fight-or-flight” system.

As a result, this type of wellness treatment has the potential to enhance blood flow and is shown to reduce blood pressure. While more research is needed, these results are promising!

Elevation of Dopamine and Endorphin Levels

While there isn’t direct scientific evidence, many experts believe that flotation therapy increases dopamine and endorphins, also known as your “feel-good” hormones. It’s further thought that this may help improve depressive mental states and other mental health conditions.

Potential Benefits for Mental Health Conditions

A 2014 study demonstrated that flotation therapy reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and pain while improving optimism and sleep quality. 

A 2023 sample study further solidified the antidepressant and antianxiety effects of flotation therapy, indicating that these effects lasted for up to two days after a session.

With multiple scientific studies demonstrating that flotation therapy has mental health benefits, some experts suggest combining flotation therapy with standard mental health treatment approaches for optimal results.

Flotation Therapy and Athletic Performance

Whether you want to improve your performance in the gym or enhance your post-workout recovery, flotation therapy has many benefits. As many elite athletes know, the ability to balance recovery versus training is a fine line but essential for achieving one’s full potential.

Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is a worthwhile addition to any athletic recovery routine due to its gravitational pressure. The buoyancy of the saltwater increases blood circulation and may also alleviate any muscle soreness.

As a result, the body is better able to clear waste, such as lactic acid, which is a natural byproduct of metabolism. In fact, some pretty successful athletes have spoken about their experiences with flotation therapy.

Jade Johnson, a British long jumper, has said, “When I first got into flotation therapy, I tried it three times in a week, and it was so beneficial that I had another two sessions leading into the 2008 European Cup at Annecy, France. It was there I jumped a personal best of 6.81m and qualified for the Beijing Olympics. I have always used Physiotherapy and massage to help with injury recovery, but floatation is different. When I float, I can really feel a lot of pressure being taken off my back, and when I compete, I feel calm, and my mind and body feel in balance. I think everyone should at least have one float in their lives, or they just don’t know what they are missing!”

Other successful athletes who attribute flotation therapy as a major part of their recovery include Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Pat Healy, and more. If the best of the best are using it, there’s got to be something to it.

Personal Experiences with Flotation Therapy

Many people refer to flotation therapy as an “escape” or “reset” from daily life. It offers the rare opportunity to digitally detox and be completely alone with your thoughts. 

Within a short span of time, many people report emerging from the tank feeling rejuvenated and refreshed—as well as less stressed (which is a huge feat in today’s fast-paced and go-go-go society).

Joe Rogan has even said, “The sensory deprivation chamber is the most important tool I’ve ever used for developing my mind, for thinking, for evolving.” 

While the first session may give way to restlessness and uncertainty, adding flotation therapy to your regular routine can eventually help you find stillness. And this can spill over into your everyday life, guiding you toward greater balance and a greater sense of peace.

How Often Should You Float?

Technically, there’s no “right” answer for how often you should float. Some love to float once a week, while others may choose to explore flotation therapy once a month.

For beginners, we recommend allowing at least three to five sessions to get used to it. This will help you better gauge the benefits and its long-term effects.

With regular practice, you might notice you feel more calm and less stressed in your daily life. The truth is that by making time to detox from the constant pulls at our attention, we give our minds a much-needed break—something that is very rare in our modern world.

Cost and Accessibility of Flotation Therapy

Luckily, flotation therapy is becoming easier and easier to access. Most major cities are home to at least one flotation therapy facility. Oftentimes, these centres offer packages or memberships, allowing you to explore flotation therapy at an affordable rate.

With Sauna Float ACT in Canberra, we provide a variety of flotation packages and sauna or massage combos. For instance, one float with us costs $75. Three floats cost $210, and 10 floats cost $600. However, you can also purchase a sauna and flotation combo for $110.

If you’re in Canberra, look us up! We’d love to help you discover the power of flotation therapy today. If not, you can simply Google “flotation therapy near me” to find a facility in your local town or city.


Flotation therapy is a wonderful way to float your worries away, relieve chronic pain, reduce stress, decrease symptoms of depression, alleviate anxiety, enhance blood flow and recovery, improve sleep, and generally feel good. 

Allow yourself to experience complete solitude and relaxation without the technology or distractions holding you back. Give yourself the gift of sensory deprivation to enhance both your mental and physical health in multiple ways!

Ready to try it out? Book your first float with Sauna Float ACT today. 


Check out some of the frequently asked questions regarding flotation therapy below.

Is flotation therapy safe?

Flotation therapy is safe for most individuals. However, if you have an open wound, have been experiencing diarrhea, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have recently dyed your hair, have an infectious disease, recently got a tattoo, have incontinence, or have been diagnosed with epilepsy or another health condition, flotation therapy might not be right for you.

Why do I feel sick after the float tank?

Nausea may occur after your float session. Yet, this usually subsides within a short period of time. Usually, this happens similarly to motion sickness. You may feel a lack of equilibrium in the float tank, leading to feelings of vertigo and nausea. 

Often, this subsides with later sessions as you get used to the sensory deprivation tank. Sometimes, it can also help to touch the sides of the tank to keep your bearings intact.

Who should not use a float tank?

If you commonly experience claustrophobia or have epilepsy, kidney disease, low blood pressure, open wounds, or an infectious disease, float tanks are not recommended.

Why am I so tired after float therapy?

Tiredness and fatigue may occur after your float therapy experience due to being in a state of deep relaxation. For some, this may cause disorientation. Others may just feel tired since their bodies and minds are so relaxed!

Do you wear clothes in a float tank?

While you can choose to wear a bathing suit, the entire experience is private. We usually recommend foregoing clothes or a bathing suit as they may cause a distraction as they press upon the skin as you float.

What should I wear during a flotation therapy session?

We recommend wearing nothing at all! However, if it makes you feel more comfortable, you can opt to wear a swimsuit.

Is it okay to sleep in a float tank?

Dozing off is possible but unlikely. Often, people mistake a deep state of relaxation for sleeping. But is it safe? Technically, yes. The buoyancy of the water keeps you afloat. In the worst-case scenario, you might get some salt water in your eyes.

What time is best for float?

Any time that works for you! This is entirely a personal preference. Many individuals love to float in the morning. Others enjoy the evening. Meanwhile, some enjoy getting in a session whenever they can, such as during their lunch hour.

Do you shower after a float tank?

Yes, each float tank room has a shower, allowing you to rinse off before and after your session. We highly recommend you do so after to wash off the salt water. 

Can flotation therapy help with mental health issues?

Yes! There’s even scientific evidence indicating that flotation therapy can help alleviate depression and anxiety. Some experts even suggest it should be used alongside regular treatment strategies.

Can flotation therapy help with chronic pain?

Due to the weightlessness and sensory deprivation, flotation therapy provides relief, especially to those with joint pain. It can take the pressure off and help you truly relax.

What should I expect during my first flotation therapy session?

During your first flotation therapy session, it’s completely normal to feel nervous and a bit uncomfortable. However, focusing on taking slow and deep breaths can help you stay calm and fully relax into the experience.

Can I use flotation therapy if I can’t swim?

Absolutely, everyone can float in a float tank! Additionally, the water level is only 30 cm deep, meaning you don’t need to know how to swim to enter the tank itself.

Does flotation therapy have any side effects?

On newly shaved skin (which is why we don’t recommend you shave before your flotation session!), the salt water may irritate the area. For first-time floaters, you may experience some confusion and disorientation when entering and leaving the tank.

As mentioned above, nausea may occur during first-time use due to disorientation; touching the sides of the tank can help with this. First-time floaters may also experience a heightened sense of light, sound, and smell after their first session.

How much does a flotation therapy session cost?

This depends. Yet, most individual flotation therapy sessions cost around $75. However, discounted rates are available when buying multiple floats as part of a package.

Is flotation therapy suitable for pregnant women?

Yes, flotation therapy can be a wonderful way to relax during pregnancy. It can also help relieve pressure on your joints while also allowing you time to connect with your baby in a unique way. 

At the same time, we always recommend checking with your doctor before booking your first float.

Are there any people who should avoid flotation therapy?

Yes, individuals with epilepsy should avoid flotation tanks because of the risk of having a seizure during their session. It’s also not recommended for individuals with low blood pressure due to flotation therapy’s ability to lower blood pressure. 

If you have kidney issues or kidney disease, flotation therapy is also not recommended. Lastly, those with open wounds or infectious diseases should avoid flotation therapy until these issues are resolved.