Is floating worth it and what to know for your first time. We go over frequently asked questions to show you what it is really like, what to wear, and what to do!
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is a type of therapy, and I tried it for the first time this week! It has been proven to help relieve anxiety, improve athletic performance, and get better sleep, and who doesn’t need that?
*(I am not affiliated with True REST Float Spa, nor did I receive any commission/reimbursement for this post. I just wish I had known more before I went the first time!)
*(Images taken from True REST website for review purposes only.)
First of all, What is sensory deprivation therapy? This cool scientist created this tank that they fill with about 10 inches of water and then dump TONS of epsom salts inside. There is such a high salt content that you actually float on the water. The water is also skin-temperature, which gives you the impression that you are floating in space. This tricks the brain into thinking that you are asleep, and starts the healing process that you normally do during sleep. I’ll give more details later 😉
I had heard about floating therapy from a few friends but I was never willing to pay the money to go! I thought it was way too expensive. However, I took a stress management class this semester and they recommended that we each try it. Since I have been experiencing more anxiety than usual lately, I decided to go for it.
- What should I expect my first time? When I arrived, an attendant greeted me and led me to a room to watch an instructional video. I really liked the back massagers that they provided, and the video was super interesting and answered most of my questions. So I was really excited to get started. The attendant gave me a tour of the facility, so I would know exactly what to do and where to go.
- What is in the room? The room itself has a shower, a small bench, and then of course the tank itself. They provided everything from earplugs to towels to shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. They also have a spray bottle and a small washcloth inside the tank in case you splash around too much and get the salt in your eyes. I used it to wipe off my face a few times. When I walked in, the tank was finishing up its cleaning cycle, which was good to see first-hand.
- Is it private? Before going, I was nervous to know whether or not to bring a swimsuit or go naked, but once I got there, I was totally convinced that it was very private. They ask you to shower off before getting into the pod. Once inside the tank, you have a few options. There is a small glowing light at the back of the pod that you can choose to leave on or turn off. I wanted the full experience, so I turned it off. You can shut the pod all the way or leave it cracked open. Lastly, you can decide whether to listen to their music or turn it off. The music was just meditation music, and they said it helped trigger the beta waves in your brain to promote healing…or something. So I left it on and found it was pretty soothing. But you can choose to turn it off, turn it on, or mess with the lights as often as you would like.
- What was floating like? The actual floating experience was very interesting. At first, it was really hard to relax. I was trying too hard to shut off my brain. It was about 1 pm, so it was difficult to force my body to want to sleep. However, after a while, as I tried to clear my mind, it was extremely relaxing. I did get the sensation that I was just floating in space. I couldn’t really feel the water or see anything, so the only sensation came from the music coming through the speaker.
The truth is I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until my time was up. You know your time is up when the music stops (or turns back on if you silenced it) and the light slowly starts to light up again. If you still do not wake up/get the message, the clean cycle turns on and the water starts to splash around. I was so deeply asleep that the water started churning, so my wake-up was not very relaxing. In fact, I panicked and screamed, haha! But then I remembered where I was and got out quickly.
Then you can take as long as you want to shower. They also have a prep room where they had Q-tips, and combs, blow-dryers, straighteners, curling irons, lotion…so many things that you can use for free! I particularly liked the glossy spray-in hair stuff. My skin actually didn’t feel very dry, surprisingly.
- What other services did they offer? After you finish, you have an optional 10-minute flavored oxygen bar. I decided to try it out since it was free. I really liked it! I chose lemongrass as my “flavor”, but I found that it didn’t really have a flavor at all. So when I go back, I will just choose the best scent because you don’t really taste it. But the oxygen left me feeling really refreshed.
- Did I notice any effects? I felt really groggy for the first hour after the float (just like waking up from a nap), but that first day I didn’t really notice anything. However, after a few days, I did notice that my muscles weren’t nearly as sore as they usually are. And my husband said, “You aren’t irritable at all! That float thing must really work!” They do say that it takes a few sessions to really notice a difference, just like any form of therapy. However, even if I do not go back, it was a really relaxing one-time experience.
- Don’t forget to put in your earplugs before your shower! It’s a lot harder to get them in once you’re wet.
- Ask about a first-timer discount. They usually give you about $20 off!
- Do NOT shave the day you go, or probably even the day before you go. It’s a salt bath, and I can promise it will hurt! They do provide petroleum jelly, but I can’t imagine that would work very well.
- Wipe off your face/body really well after your shower before getting into the pod. I had water dripping down my face for the first few minutes and it was really difficult to relax.
- Do not go if you are on your period or recently dyed your hair. If you are on your period, you can change your appointment with no penalty. If you have recently dyed your hair, you risk staining the pod or the water and the fee is pretty hefty.
- Plan for about 2 hours for your first time. You have to arrive 30 minutes early for instruction, it’s an hour-long float, and then about 30 minutes for showering, getting dressed, and the oxygen bar.
We would love to hear about your floating experiences! Tell us in the comments below!