Frequently Asked Questions About Float Tanks & Floatation Therapy

Here’s a few questions we are often asked.

Q:How Clean Is The Water?

The Metal Room @ Oly FloatThe water in the float tank is much cleaner than water in a swimming pool, hot tub or, arguably, even your bath tub at home. The high concentration of Epsom Salts creates a environment in which it very difficult for microorganisms to grow; which is how The Dead Sea, got its name. Between every single float, the water is 100% drained from the tanks and filtered through a double-filtration process before being re-filled into the float tank. That double filtration process includes passing through a 250,000 gallon swimming pool filter – 1000 times more than our relatively small tanks – and, importantly, an ultraviolet purification filter, similar to those used in municipal drinking water systems. Additionally, clients are required to thoroughly shampoo, soap, and rinse on-site before entering the float tank; this further helps maintain water quality and sanitation.

Q:What Makes Me Float?

1-IMG_8667In short, 1000 lbs of Epsom salts.  The salts create a super-state of buoyancy, reproducing a microgravity state that many describe as like floating in deep space.

Q:What Is The Experience Of Sensory Deprivation Like?

The Wood Room @ Oly FloatThis naturally varies person by person. Many describe it as being like drifting in space. For others, it is simply deeply relaxing. Falling asleep is common; it is that relaxing. Some people experience profound meditative mindsets and spiritual insights; some have excellent internal dialogues with themselves; others simply float in peace and quiet. The experience is entirely up to you and can also vary float by float!

Q:What Should I Expect Of My First Float Experience?

As with the question above, the answer is … it varies person by person. For many, the first float is really an exercise in getting used to the experience. Most of us lead such busy and stressful lives that it seems we have totally forgotten how to be fully relaxed. Often the first float is like having a spotlight put on that fact, as you experience a remembering of sorts and work on easing into your body’s fully relaxed state. You might experience a certain duration of “monkey mind”, your brain asking a lot of questions and having expectations to one degree or another about what the experience is going to be. Will I touch the sides? Will I fall asleep? When is this enlightenment going to begin? How long have I been in here? The mind, for most of us, tends to be busy during the first float.

By the second float, though, many of those questions are gone and you find yourself more prepared to fully ease into it and begin your real journey with floatation therapy.

Q:Is Floatation Therapy Safe?  Could I drown?  Can I sleep?

The depth of the water in float tanks is only 10 inches, and is packed with 1000 lbs of Epsom salts.  No matter the size, shape or weight of your body: you float. It is not possible to drown in the tank.  Even if you were to somehow able to flip over in 10 inches of water, the salt in your eyes, nose and mouth would most certainly wake you up.

So not only is it safe to fall asleep in the float tanks, we encourage you to!  One hour of sleep while in a Delta state, like that which floating induces, is equivalent to 6-8 hours of regular sleep.  We often sleep in the tanks ourselves for hours at a time.

Q:What Do I Wear In The Float Tank?

Most people decide to wear their birthday suits when floating; that is, nothing. It is entirely up to you, though. You are in total privacy in your float room, but you should wear whatever makes you comfortable.

Whatever you decide to wear on your body, you might want to utilize the ear plugs we provide, to enable you to fully relax your head back without worrying about salt water getting into your ears.

Q:Are there any age limitations on floating?

Nope. We encourage children to float. Ours do. Though they may lack some of the mental discipline for more meditative floating, the physical benefits of floating, easing away tension in the body, are as useful to children as they are to adults.

Similarly, there is no upper age limit on floating. If you’re “elderly”, you’ll experience all the same benefits, and enjoy some respite from those nagging aches and pains that perhaps seem a bit more persistent as things slow down for you.

Q:Can I Play Music In The Float Tanks?

iPod_nano_BLU_wPods_PRINTYes! We typically play music for the first 5-10 minutes and the last 5-10 minutes of a float. The music at the end is your “wake up call”, your way of knowing that the float is over. This is to enable you to not have to worry about time while you’re floating; we’ll take care of that concern for you!

We typically use music that has either a binaural beat or an isochronic tone, a pulse that runs in the background of the music which helps entrain the brain to certain frequencies. In particular, this helps induce a theta state in the brain, the brainwave state that’s somewhere between an awake state and a dream state. Here’s an example of music we play during floats:

You can opt to have this music play only at the end at your wake up call, at the beginning and end, or all the way through. It’s up to you!

If you want to bring in your own music on any device with a 2.5mm audio jack, we’re happy to plug that in for you during your float.

If you want to, you can also pre-select any track from YouTube. We have a small collection of tracks with binaural beats, isochronic tones, nature sounds, and other audio that’s good for floating on our own YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/OlyFloat. Just let us know which one you like, and we’ll play it for you while you float.

Note that audio books don’t tend to work particularly well. Your ears are typically under the water or otherwise muffled with ear plugs, so any sound that is primarily “overtone” will likely not be very audible. Some clients have successfully played audio books by playing them from their phones, floating next to their heads in a double-bagged ziploc bag. You definitely take that approach at your own risk, though! 🙂 We also consider this to be a bit of a distraction to the experience of sensory-deprivation, which may result in a lessened state of full relaxation. But … it’s your time! You should use it however you want to.

Q:Have The Therapeutic Claims of Floating Been Scientifically Validated?

There are dozens and dozens – if not hundreds, at this point – of clinical studies demonstrating the therapeutic efficacy and mechanisms of action of floatation therapy and sensory deprivation. A full list of clinical papers can be downloaded for free from Float Tank Solutions. Below is just section A alone, as an example:

  • Adams, H. B. – Arousability and the Nature of Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • Adams, H. B. – Therapeutic Potentialities of Sensory Deprivation Procedures – International Mental Health Research Newspaper 6(4), 7-9
  • Adams, H.B. – The Incredible History of REST Technology – Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.11 -28. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press
  • Adams, H. B. – Effects of reduced stimulation on institutionalized adult patients& – “In P. Suedfeld, Restricted Environmental Stimulation.”” Research and Clinical Applications. New York: Wiley, pp. 320-364.”
  • Adams, H. B. – Studies in REST III: REST, Arousability and the nature of alcohol and substance abuse – Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 5, 77-81
  • Adams, H. B. – Studies in REST: Arousability and the nature of alcohol and substance abuse – Report for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service
  • Adams, H. B. Robertson, M. H., Cooper, G. D. – Facilitating Therapeutic personality change in patients by sensory deprivation. – Paper presented at the International Congress of Psychology
  • Adams, H. B., Cooper, G. D., & Carrerra, R. N. – Individual differences in behavioral reactions of psychiatric patients to brief partial sensory deprivation – Perceptual and Motor Skills, 34, 199-217
  • Adams, H. B., Cooper, G. D., & Scott, J. C. – REST and reduced alcohol consumption – Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on REST
  • Åsenlöf, K., Olsson, S., Bood, S. Å., & Norlander, T. – Case studies on fibromyalgia and burn-out depression using psychotherapy in combination with flotation-REST: Personality development and increased well-being. – “Imagination, Cognition and Personality”
  • Atkinson R. – “Short-Term Exposure to REST: Enhancement Performance on a Signal-Detection Task.” – “Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.93-100. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.”
  • Atkinson, Richard – Short-Term Exposure to REST: Enhanced Performance on a Signal-Detection Task – Selected Papers from Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation, p. 93-100
  • Azima, H., Vispo, R.; Azima, F.J. – “Observations on anaclitic therapy during sensory deprivation.” – “In P. Solomon, P E. Kubzansky, P. H. Leiderman, J. H. Mendelson, R.Trumbull & D. Wexler, Eds., Sensory Deprivation, Cambridge,MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 143-160.”

There’s also some amazing research on the benefits of floatation therapy – in particular for PTSD, depression and anxiety disorders – being conducted at The Laureate Institute For Brain Research (LIBR), a privately-funded medical research facility in Tulsa, OKlahoma. LIBR’s “float lab” was built specifically for studying the therapeutic impacts of floating, has access to an fMRI machine for doing immediate pre- and post-float brain mapping studies, and has even designed brand new EEG technology that can be worn by study subjects while floating. You can learn more about that at laureateinstitute.org.

Please see our Science & Media section for more information.

Q:Will Floating Make Me “Trip Out” Like In That Movie?

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Unless you are an experienced meditator who has achieved heightened or altered states through mind training alone, it is unlikely, although certainly possible, that you will experience any kind of “trip” as has been often popularized about sensory deprivation therapy.  Keep in mind that much of the hallucinatory association that movies like Altered States created with floatation therapy is based on taking large amounts of psychedelic substances beforehand; you would “trip out” taking psychedelic substances no matter what you’re doing.

The mind is a curious thing, though; you never quite know what you might experience once you shut out the outside world and all its various stimuli and tap into a different set of sensory awareness. Certainly, floatation therapy is an outstanding meditation and mind training tool.

Q:Is Floating Good For Pain Relief?

Absolutely! The relaxation effect of floating induces the brain to produce a large amount of endorphins, the brain’s “happy chemicals.” Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. Floating also decreases corticosteroids and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones. And by exposing yourself to the 800 lbs of magnesium-rich Epsom salts in each float tank, you are setting yourself up to absorb a natural painkilling nutrient. “Magnesium deficiency can affect virtually every organ system of the body. With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience twitches, cramps, muscle tension, muscle soreness, including back aches, neck pain, tension headaches and jaw joint (or TMJ) dysfunction.” – Dr. Sidney Baker

Please see our Benefits section for more information on the health effects of floatation therapy, including pain relief and physical recovery.

Q:How Does Floating Differ From Hyperbaric/Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Floatation Therapy both involve going inside a chamber, and both have similar documented benefits: improved stamina, increased creativity, reduced pain, etc.  Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an excellent part of any healthcare plan.   The experience is quite different, though.  With Hyperbaric Therapy, you lay, clothed, inside a chamber that is pressurized to stimulate circulation and are given either an oxygen mask or a cannula of oxygen that is inserted into the nostrils.  The experience is clinical in nature and typically lasts 30-60 minutes, with a technician watching over you for the first and last part of the session.

Floatation Therapy has many of the same therapeutic benefits as Hyperbaric Therapy, but offers, we believe, a more relaxing and natural-feeling experience.   It’s like helping your mind and body medically, while soothing your soul recreationally.

Q:Can I Get Discounts On Regular Floats

You sure can.  You can save up to 50% on floats by buying a membership or by buying floats in packages of 3 or 10 floats.  Check out our Pricing page.

Q:Are Your Float Tanks Wheelchair-Accessible?

The Metal Room @ Oly FloatThe Soul Space building is fully wheelchair-accessible, with a ramp in the back of the building, with ample parking near the ramp.  Our float rooms, though, are not, strictly speaking, wheelchair accessible.  At least not from an ADA perspective.  We do, however, have some clients in wheelchairs who are able to float with a little assistance.  Whether someone in a wheelchair can get in and out of our showers and float tanks is largely dependent on the extent of their upper body function and strength.   If you can lift yourself out of your chair and into bed, for example, you will likely be able to lift yourself out of your chair and into (a) a chair in the shower, and (b) over the float tank door threshold, which is about two feet off the floor and approximately two feet wide.
If you do not have good upper body mobility/strength, you are, of course, more than welcome to have helpers come in with you and help you in and out of the shower and float tank.  We have a comfortable lounge area for assistants to hang out in while you float.  This would likely be best with two helpers, one who steps into the float tank with you (there’s lots of room), holding your upper body, and a second person helping guide your legs through the door.   It is possible a staff member would be able to serve as that second person for you, but you would need to check in with an Oly Float representative when booking your floats to make sure this would be possible at the time of your float.

The Metal Room @ Oly FloatIf you are in a wheelchair, you should book your float in The Metal Room.  (pictured to the right)  This is the room that has the most maneuverable space and has a shower suitable for lifting in and out of.   The Wood Room is not a good float room for wheelchair accessibility, as the shower entrance is not as large, and there is a small step to get to the float tank entrance.

It’s worth mentioning that floating can be a phenomenal therapy for many of the ailments that afflict those in wheelchairs.  The high level of magnesium in the water can help tremendously with muscle soreness, tension and twitches, and the relaxation on the central nervous system that floating a sensory-deprived atmosphere induces can be beneficial to allowing tension in the body to ease away.  It can be an excellent compliment to other forms of physical and medical therapy aimed at healing your injuries/condition.

Another area worth mentioning is that in order to use our float tanks, you must have full control over bodily function.  Unfortunately, those with unpredictable intestinal or urinary function should not float, as this poses a risk to the quality of the water, and therefore safety of others.  Any damage to the water in our float tanks from using them with a known incontinence issue will unfortunately result in a rather large bill for 1,000 lbs of Epsom salts.

Q:Can I float if I have a known incontinence issue?

No.  The water in our float tanks is not changed after each float, it is purified through a double-filtration process and cycled back into the tank.  This destroys all normal levels of bacterial or microbial elements in the water from regular use, but it would not effectively deal with a mishap related to an incontinence issue.  In order to use our float tanks, you must have full control over bodily functions.  Unfortunately, those with unpredictable intestinal or urinary function should not float, as this poses a risk to the quality of the water, and therefore safety of others.  Any damage to the water in our float tanks from using them with a known incontinence issue will unfortunately result in a rather large bill for 1,000 lbs of Epsom salts.

Q:Can I float during menstruation?

Yes, provided you are using an effective device for containing menstrual fluids (e.g. tampon).

If you are unsure, please wait to schedule your float.

Q:Is Floatation Therapy Currently Covered By Insurance?

Unfortunately, no, not at the moment.  This is something the collective of floatation therapy centers around the nation are working on together.  We hope that floatation therapy will become covered by insurance, particularly for management of injuries, just as other historically “alternative” forms of healthcare, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and massage therapy, now are.  The best way you can help make this happen is by contacting your insurance company and telling them that you want floatation therapy covered under your insurance plan.

Q:What Other Services Might Help My Goals With Floating?

Oly Float is partnered with Intuitive Being, Mandy Zabohne LMP, and Goldroot Botanical Medicine. These partnerships enable us to offer our clients an extended range of services to help reach their physical, emotional or spiritual goals. In combination with floating, massage and cranio sacral therapy can help with physical injuries or pain; our counseling, applied kinesiology and energy healing services can help with emotional and/or spiritual goals you are pursuing through floating; and our botanical medicine services can, in combination with floating, help with rebalancing hormonal and other biochemical imbalances that you might be seeking help with through floating. For more information, see Our Practitioners. They work right alongside us in our office as a collaborative effort in helping our clients meet their personal health and wellness goals.

If you have any other questions not answered here, please feel free to email us at info@olyfloat.com or give us a call at (360) 972-3031.

Benefits of Floating