Here’s What It’s Really Like To Float In A Sensory Deprivation Tank

In case you missed it, there’s a new phenomenon in town—sensory deprivation tanks where you can spend an hour “floating.” Some look like tanning beds, but a bit bigger. It’s kind of like your own personal pool, but when the lid is put on, if you’re claustrophobic, you may feel like it’s more like a coffin.

Thanks to the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” floating in a sensory deprivation tank is becoming even more popular. Chances are there’s a new facility for floating in your area.

So how does this whole sensory deprivation thing work? At Float Sixty in Chicago, guests can schedule a one-hour session and choose from a float room, pod or tank. “Our floatation equipment holds approximately 10 inches of water and 1000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts, creating a calming retreat,” Float Sixty’s website states. “True R.E.S.T., or Restricted External Sensory Therapy, is attained by removing light and sound.” Of course, the Epsom salts help with relaxation and enable you to float. Plus, at Float Sixty, customers can choose colored lights and soothing music, as well. Count. Us. In.

Aside from relaxation, there are several benefits to floating, which you generally do for about an hour. These include creating an opportunity for meditation, reducing anxiety, increasing endorphins (which elevate mood) and improving circulation.

Still not convinced if you want to try it for yourself? Here’s a peek into Life Floats in Brooklyn, New York.

Okay, that made it look way less scary than it sounds, yes?

Here’s how a client who tried a sensory deprivation tank at A New Spirit in Denver, Colorado, described the process. “In a dark room with only a dim blue light, I was met with a four-foot-wide, four-foot-tall and eight-foot-long tank eerily resembling some sort of space ship,” says Megan McNeil, writer for 303 Magazine, in a piece about her experience. “But, perhaps, in a way, it is a space ship to relaxation, your inner thoughts and feelings, or even… the Upside Down.” Of course, that last reference is to “Stranger Things” (which you should go binge-watch now if you haven’t already).

“I switched to using ear plugs and part of a pool noodle for my neck, and I even took the leap and closed the hatch door of my tank all the way,” McNeil continues. “I had never seen darkness be so bright… I lost all sense of time and space, occasionally jerking back into consciousness to find the handle to the door, afraid I was going to float away. In hindsight, I’m floating in 10 inches of water in an enclosed space; I’m not going anywhere. However, the tank has a way of taking your mind to any relaxing place.”

Anna Gragert, a writer for HelloGiggles, tried floating too. She went to Just Float in Pasadena, California, which states it’s “the world’s largest float therapy center.”

Of her experience, Gragert says, “I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing, and allowed myself to enjoy the freedom of floating.” And afterwards? “As I made my way through the halls, I felt different. My body felt as though it wasn’t my own, which is to say it felt totally relaxed. Emotionally, I felt calm. Mentally, my stress melted away. That night, I slept better. So basically… I felt GREAT.”

For a tour of a float facility, such as Float Sixty, you can watch this YouTube video to check out the various float areas—the tanks, pods and pools.

When you’re ready to make an appointment to try floating for yourself, keep in mind that many places offer great deals—hello, LivingSocial—so check those out before you book. Wherever you decide to try a sensory deprivation tank, happy floating!