Floatation therapy is becoming more mainstream. In part due to a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating its health benefits that help us combat the effects of stress.
Amongst the many benefits that have been proven over time, these are our top 5 reasons why float therapy is so effective in relieving stress.
1. Floating Improves Sleep
Floating helps improve the quality of our sleep. This is largely due to the absorption of magnesium during the float therapy session.
Magnesium is an essential macro-mineral that keeps our muscles and nerves working optimally. It helps regulate mood and stabilises our sleep-wake cycles.
Unfortunately our bodies do not produce magnesium and magnesium deficiency is more commonplace than we realise which can:
- Interfere with our body’s enzyme production
- Result in low levels of energy
- Increase stress and anxiety
- Disrupt our ability fall and stay asleep
- Compromise our musculoskeletal system in a way that makes us prone to injury and pain
- Compromise our nervous system
Whilst there is an ongoing debate about the efficacy of magnesium absorption through skin, there is no doubt that the highly saturated magnesium content contributes to the deep physical relaxation of the experience.
The weightlessness; the complete and utter silence; the total lack of sensory stimulation provides the perfect environment for our bodies and minds to completely unwind. This enhanced relaxation helps us sleep deeper for days following a float session.
2. Floating Reduces Stress Hormones
Floating has been shown to reduce stress hormones in the body. In fact, the magnesium sulphate inhibits ACTH, a hormone that drives your adrenal glands to release cortisol, a stress hormone.
Whilst cortisol is involved in regulating metabolism and plays an important role in our body’s immune system functioning, maintaining healthy cortisol levels is key to protecting our mental and physical health. Chronically high cortisol levels are a symptom of stress and often poor sleep. And it’s a vicious circle – too much cortisol also contributes to sleep issues and other health problems such as:
- poor regulation of blood sugar
- suppression of immune system
- weight gain, specifically around the midsection
- gut issues like irritable bowel syndrome
- chronic anxiety
A 1991 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that consistent floating reduces cortisol levels by over 20%. More importantly the study also demonstrated the body’s increased resilience to handling stressful situations with a 50% reduction in cortisol variability.
3. Floating Relieves Pain
As floating promotes vasodilation enabling better oxygenation – better blood flow to the brain, organs and limbs – it helps to minimise pain caused by tension, stress and even arthritis.
The magnesium is better absorbed through the skin, than via the normal digestive tract making it more effective to counter migraines, relax and help lubricate muscles and joints.
4. Floating Relaxes Muscles and Accelerates Recovery
We tend to underestimate how much our bodies hold stress in muscle tissue. We feel this as tension – when the body is stressed, muscles tense up – as a reflex reaction to stress. It’s our body’s instinctive response that protects us from injury and pain.
Floating helps to relax the muscles and accelerates the body’s natural ability to recover by reducing lactic acid in the body. The zero-gravity, body-temperature, magnesium-saturated water allows the lactic acid to pass out of the muscles faster when relaxed, thereby reducing overall muscle stiffness and pain.
5. Floating Reduces Anxiety & Depression
According to scientific studies, every hour spent floating can help reduce anxiety and depression by reducing blood pressure, reducing heart rate and as we’ve shown, cortisol levels. This in turn eliminates fatigue and stimulates dopamine release, a natural mood enhancer.
Recent developments in neuroscience have allowed scientists to map human brain activity during practices like meditation and floating to see how brain waves change. Research from fMRI studies show that meditation activates parts of the brain associated with attention and decreases activation in the amygdala which triggers the fight, fright, freeze (stress) response and the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands.
Floatation therapy has the ability to induce similar meditative states. And it is this deep relaxation that helps to alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
One small study involving people with burnout-related depression noted that after 12 float sessions they were feeling less stress, less anxiety, less depression and their sleep quality and optimism had increased.
Stress management can be complicated as there are different types of stress and all of us respond so differently. How we respond to stress can alter the impact that stress has on us and learning to deal with stress in a healthier way leads to better resilience.
If you’re feeling anxious, severely stressed or if you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or others, you need to seek immediate medical help.
Stress and anxiety can be alleviated. There are many resources, strategies and treatments. At Gravity, we believe in a holistic approach. Talk to us about our Stress Relief Program or Book in for a coaching consultation to see how to incorporate Floating and other strategies into your routine in a way that works for you and optimises stress relief.