Isolation Tank – also known as float tank, floatation tank, and sensory deprivation tank – is a soundproof water tank rich in Epsom salt and maintained at body temperature. This dark sensory deprivation tank is used for the meditation therapy for soothing the tired nerves and body, away from the external sounds and scenes. Epsom salt – also known as magnesium sulfate – helps in floating by providing buoyancy.
1. What is an Isolation Tank?
An isolation tank, floating tank or sensory deprivation take is a tank with multiple names. It is a soundproof and dark tank with no external noises and sights that helps in the relaxation of nerves.
With the increased advancement of technology, there is increased occupational stress in society and there are innumerable psychological effects of stress on human body and mind.
By the use of an Isolation Tank, people undergo the restricted environmental stimulation therapy for nervous and physical relaxation. REST involves lying horizontally in a lightless, sound-proof water tank rich in magnesium sulfate that offers buoyancy.
1.1. Origin of the Isolation Tank
Isolation Tank was designed in 1954 for the very first time by a U.S.A-based neuroscientist and psychoanalyst – John Cunningham Lilly.
Being a neuroscientist, he wanted to study the performance of the nervous system while being away from all kinds of external stimuli.
If you study in detail, you will get to know the psychological symptoms of stress that hinder the routine activities of a stressed individual.
So, John Cunningham Lily came out with the striking idea of designing an isolation tank that brought a wave of great controversy in the 1960s.
He used lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – a hallucinating agent – and also ketamine – an anesthetic agent – to study the sensory deprivation.
It was a kind of hypnotism or trance-like therapy that was used to relax the nerves and body and a decade later, isolation tanks were started to be created commercially.
1.2. How to use an Isolation Tank?
The process to use an isolation tank may be variable for different floatation centers, yet some points are the same everywhere. These steps are listed below:
After reaching the Isolation Tank center or spa, you will be guided to remove all the jewelry and then the clothes.
Then you will take a shower before entering the tank.
Then you are entered into the isolation tank and close the lid of the tank. It deprives you of all the external stimuli including gravity.
You should lie horizontally and let the floatation help you in floating. Epsom salt dissolved in the tank solution will not let you sink.
Often the music is played during the initial time and it relaxes your nerves.
Floatation time depends upon you or the spa, normally it’s for one hour.
When the time is going to end, music is played again for another 5 minutes.
You will get out of the tank and take a shower again.
You must not be eating something, at least half-hour before floatation.
Entering the tank with skin ulcers or just after the shave or wax is not recommended to prevent the irritation because of Epsom salt.
Isolation Tank is used as a sensory deprivation therapy to get rid of depression, anxiety, body pain, and other ailments. Epsom salt is used in high concentration that helps you to absorb magnesium through the skin that has certain health benefits.
2. How to make an Isolation Tank?
According to scientific evidence and experiences shared by people using the isolation tank, this sensory deprivation tank is much beneficial in getting rid of anxiety, stress, insomnia, and physical tiredness.
Modern problems have modern solutions, so without being worried about the ways to get rid of depression, people often go to their nearby spa to get sensory deprivation therapy.
Buoyancy in the Isolation Tank is achieved by the addition of a large amount of Magnesium sulfate – also known as Epsom salt – into the water of the tank.
High concentration of the Epsom salt increases the density of water just like the Dead sea – a Salt Lake that is known for its high salt concentration.
About 1000 L of water is used in an isolation tank along with the addition of 500-600 kg of magnesium sulfate. It increases the specific gravity of the water in the isolation tank to the level (about 1.28) that prevents the sinking of the individual.
2.1. What is Epsom salt?
Epsom salt is a compound that is composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Commonly known as magnesium sulfate, the Epsom salt is added to the water of the isolation tank.
This addition of high amounts of Epsom salt not only increases solution density – that helps in floating – but also has certain other benefits.
2.2. Benefits of Epsom salt in an Isolation Tank
Epsom salt – also known as “bath salt” – is an important component of an isolation tank, is a magnesium and sulfate-rich compound and Mg is one of the most abundant elements of biomass.
When dissolved in water, it is broken down into magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium plays an important part in the maintenance of health.
Some benefits of Mg have been listed below:
Being a natural stress reliever, magnesium in Epsom salt helps in relieving depression – a silent killer - and soothes the sore muscles or muscle cramps.
Treats insomnia by releasing melatonin if you are in search of some ways about how to fall asleep increase the level of magnesium in diet or use Epsom salt in bathwater.
Taking a bath in hot water with Epsom salt reduces fibromyalgia and arthritic pain due to inflammation
Offers mental relaxation by elevating the levels of brain relaxing neurotransmitters in the body.
Helps in getting rid of headache especially migraines that usually need Anti-depressants or narcotic analgesics.
Helps to detoxify the body by excreting the toxins from the body.
Helps to maintain blood sugar level by improving the insulin sensitivity of body cells.
Improves cardiac performance and aids in maintaining blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
Magnesium is a key ingredient in assimilating the calcium in the bones, increasing the bone density.
Although, with the increasing trend of fast-food consumption especially because of the easy availability of fast-food restaurants - such as Five Guys All the way - magnesium intake has been reduced.
Sensory deprivation therapy by Isolation tank helps to absorb the magnesium through the skin, maintain the normal levels of Mg in the body.
Sulfur is also absorbed via skin in the isolation tank and plays a vital role in protein and nerve cell formation.
2.3. What does sensory deprivation do to the body?
The temperature of the solution present in an isolation tank or sensory deprivation tank is maintained to the body temperature.
High concentration of Epsom salt prevents sinking and the individual in the tank keeps floating.
Most of the celebrities, athletes, or normal depressed individuals go for sensory deprivation therapy.
People that want to undergo this therapy, enters the isolation tank without dress, and have no connection with the external world.
There are no external stimuli such as light, voice, and also gravity after closing the lid of the isolation tank.
Same as the restorative yoga, in an isolation tank with or without taking any hallucinogen, when you float in a sound-proof and lightless tank, it takes your brain to the utmost level of relaxation.
Some individuals have reported having hallucinations when they had sensory deprivation therapy by an isolation tank. It increases the creativity level of the brain.
3. Benefits of the Isolation Tank
Isolation tank or sensory deprivation tank therapy has multiple positive effects both physically and psychologically. Some of them have been listed below:
1. Reduces anxiety level
It decreases anxiety level, no matter if you have a one-hour sensory deprivation therapy. It treats the signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, depression, insomnia, and restlessness.
2. Treats chronic pain
REST has positive effects in treating chronic pains, including arthritic pain. Muscle stiffness, migraines, or other tension headaches are relieved by sensory deprivation tank therapy.
3. Improves cardiac functionality
Cardiac diseases are often a result of depression and anxiety that may lead to heart failure or hypertension by vascular stiffness. Isolation tank therapy helps to improve the cardiac function by vascular relaxation.
4. Adds well-being and euphoria
Euphoria is a condition of extreme happiness. Individuals who have experienced the isolation tank therapy, claim to be much happier after therapy, and some claim that they had feelings of euphoria and optimism.
Some of them have told their experience to have hallucination and some spiritual sight while floating in the isolation tank.
Floating tank helps you get rid of depression, anxiety, insomnia, improves cardiac functionality, relieves arthritic pain, and provides you with the feeling of well-being and euphoria.
4. Sensory deprivation therapy at home
Just as the benefits of yoga, sensory deprivation therapy is used to get rid of feelings of stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
As the name depicts, this therapy helps you to deprive the senses of all the external stimuli such as gravity, light, sound, etc. this sensory deprivation helps your nerves to be relaxed, leaving an overall relaxing impact on the body.
Sensory deprivation therapy is used to meditate and you can also have an isolation tank at home.
By building or buying an isolation tank for your home, REST can be easily available, and reaching the utmost level of meditation has not been a problem now.
5. Isolation Tank experience
While using the isolation tank therapy for the first time, you can get scared. Especially, if you have claustrophobia, you can have much more fear than a normal individual.
After getting used to it, fear goes away and your nerves start relaxing. You can’t even feel your weight because of the absence of gravity and it feels like you are up in the air.
No pain, no fear, no depression, no anxiety, just a feel of ease, relaxation, and weightlessness. Sometimes you may experience hallucinations and sleepy feelings.
Accessing the float tank is not a problem with the easy availability of the spas and even isolation tanks for the home.
6. Isolation tank death
Although isolation tank is not associated with any risks to life according to the Washington Post,
In May 2018, a biotech engineer – Aaron Traywick, age, 28 years - was found dead in an isolation tank of Soulex float spa in Washington.
But according to the Soulex float spa, their isolation tanks were scientifically proven to be safe.
However, isolation tanks are not safe for individuals below 16 and for people having certain ailments. Floating tanks are not recommended to people with the following medical problems:
Individuals having low blood pressure
With gastric problems
Skin ulcers or wounds
And most importantly, the claustrophobic individuals
Frequently asked questions
Isolation tank therapy has become so popular to get rid of depression. Here are some relevant questions that have been answered in the best possible way to satisfy the queries:
1. Can you drown in an isolation tank?
Isolation tanks are not like a swimming pool or any pond with a risk of drowning. They are much safer than those as there is a high concentration of Epsom salt in the tank water that increases the water density.
Epsom salt offers buoyancy and the individual doesn’t drown in an isolation tank and keeps floating. You don’t drown until you do this by a conscious effort.
2. Do you wear a bathing suit in a floating tank?
Floating tank or sensory deprivation tank helps you get rid of physical and mental stress. You don’t wear clothes while entering the floating tank as they are in private rooms.
It is used to deprive you of the external stimuli and a bathing suit maybe a distraction affecting your nerves, so they are not recommended.
3. Do they change the water in the isolation tank?
Water in an isolation tank is not changed after every individual. However, water in a float tank is filtered 3-5 times after each floatation.
Water in the tank is cleaned by using the carbon filter and ultraviolet light and disinfected with bromine or chlorine.
Isolation Tank – also referred to as float tank, sensory deprivation tank, or floating tank – is a sound-proof and lightless tank used to relieve physical and mental tiredness and stress.
Epsom salt – consisting of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen – is used to increase the density of water in the isolation tank that helps the individuals in floating. Magnesium absorbs through the skin and has certain health benefits.
Isolation tanks are also available to be used at home and help to remove stress, insomnia, pains, migraines, and certain other health conditions.
Individuals with open wounds, gastric problems, and claustrophobia are usually advised to avoid the use of the tank. Deaths do not happen in an isolation tank and if happens, it may be because of some other reason.