Relaxation in a flotation tank brings peace and quiet, increased well-being, and
A new dissertation shows that relaxation in a flotation tank can serve as an alternative form of treatment to
reduce stress or relieve persistent pain, and it has no side-effects whatsoever.
In times like these, we are surrounded by stress and troubled by burn-out. Stress seems to retain its place as
the greatest enemy to good health, well-being, and self-esteem. A major international field of research is now
focusing on neurogenesis, that is, the generation of new nerve cells. This is against the background of our losing
an estimated several thousand nerve cells per day. It has been known for the last few years that the formation of
new nerve cells is constant. The latest findings about neurogenesis indicate that stress blocks the new formation
of nerve cells and that relaxation, regular exercise, and an interesting environment increase and optimize the
capacity for this. In most studies that have appeared, increased neurogenesis has been related to enhanced creative
and intellectual performance.
To lie on your back and float in a tank filled with salt water induces extremely deep and pleasurable
relaxation. It is dark and quiet in the tank, which enables maximum relaxation and well-being. To sink into deep
relaxation, 45 minutes is a suitable length of time in the tank.
Patients with chronic muscle flexing pains in their neck who have been regularly treated with flotation-tank
relaxation for three weeks experience a reduction in pain. After this treatment they also feel much happier and
have less anxiety, alongside finding it easier to get to sleep at night. Blood samples taken before and after this
period of treatment indicate that the count of stress-related hormones (MHPG) has declined. These studies have been
carried out at the Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Karlstad University.
People in pain are not the only ones who can benefit from floating in a tank. Anyone looking for an environment
that can help reduce stress or lend a moment of pleasant relaxation will find this technique helpful. It has been
shown that after treatment in the flotation tank, subjects experience greater creativity: the number of new and
original thoughts increases after a session in the tank. It has also been experienced as beneficial to spend some
time by oneself in peace and quiet, perhaps to think thoughts or experience feelings that are crowded out of
stressful everyday consciousness. Many people experience that they attain a pleasant state between dreaming and
waking or a state of daydreaming and fantasy.
Almost everyone who has tried floating in a tank thinks that it is pleasant and agreeable, and they want to do
it again. Problems associated with the fear of feeling closed in are extremely slight. For those who might be
concerned about this, there is the possibility of leaving a light on in the tank or of having the door to the tank
remain partly or fully open during the session. The knowledge that you can get up and leave any time probably also
helps create a feeling of security.
Taken altogether, this raises hopes that relaxation in a flotation tank can become an alternative form of
treatment to reduce stress or alleviate chronic pain, with the help of a method that is safe and entirely without
side-effects. If the flotation tank reduces stress, then this must have major consequences for the rejuvenation of
nerve cells in those parts of the brain (hippocampus) that are primarily associated with health and intellectual
Author of dissertation:
phone: +46 709-63 16 20, +46 54-700 21 73 (office)
Title of dissertation: The experience of flotation–REST (Restricted environmental stimulation
technique):Consciousness, subjective stress and pain
Anxiety and floating