Sensory Deprivation (Float)
What is Sensory Deprivation (Float)
Sensory Deprivation now commonly known as “Floating”, Flotation Therapy or REST Therapy (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) is one of the most effective means of stress relief and relaxation available.
In 1954, a neuroscientist named John C. Lilly was conducting a series of experiments in which he needed to create an environment that would eliminate all incoming sensory information from his control group. In the original design the subjects were placed in a tank with breathing tubes, submerged under water with a divers helmet.
Through this process he accidentally discovered that the benefits of this new environment he created, which deprived the subjects of all sensory inputs, far outweighed any of his initial experiments.
Slowly the design evolved and by 1970 we had a version somewhat similar to the modern tank design we see now.
Sensory Deprivation now commonly known as “Floating”, Flotation Therapy or REST Therapy (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) is one of the most effective means of stress relief and relaxation available.
It involves lying in a salt-water solution that is approximately 10-12 inches deep in a specially designed tank (often referred to as a float tank, sensory deprivation tank, or isolation tank). In addition to that the water is heated slightly to match the average skin temperature of approximately 94.0oF (34oC) and is filled with anywhere between 800 – 1200 pounds of Epson Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) making the water extremely buoyant (50% more than the dead sea!!!) which allows you to float effortlessly.
The water is kept at a skin receptor neutral temperature which means that as you relax you slowly merge and become one with the water. It is completely silent (or you can listen to music if you like) and you also have the option of floating in complete darkness. This effect gives you the feeling of floating in outer space, in complete peace.
As you relax deeper and deeper amazing things may begin to happen as experienced by many enthusiastic floaters who float regularly. Anything from pain reduction, stress reduction and relaxation, to healing and enhanced creativity and cognitive abilities. (And a lot of other cool things too, check out our benefits section)
What to Expect!
Floating can be compared to an enhanced meditation. Science is now proving the multitude of benefits associated with the deep meditative states and the many benefits it provides us.
After taking a shower you enter the tank and slowly relax. As you merge with the water your thoughts will slowly dissipate as you enter into deeper states of relaxation.
Endorphins are released and stress hormones are reduced. People can experience a heightened state of all of their senses, that can continue after the session has completed. Sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours (or more if you’re really adventurous)
Please watch our full orientation video before coming in to Elemental!
Benefits of Floating
- Alleviates Physical and Mental Stress
- Improves Sleep
- Relieves Chronic Pain
- Improves Athletic Performance through Visualization
- Quickens Rehabilitation and Recovery
- Shifts Brain Waves from Beta to Alpha, Theta and even Delta
- Increases Creativity and Problem Solving Ability
- Reduce Blood Pressure
- Increases Endorphin Production
- Lowers Cortisol, Adrenaline and other Stress Hormones
- Enhances Senses
- Deepens Meditation
- Diminishes Depression, Anxiety and Fear
- Facilitates Freedom from Habits, Phobias and Addiction
- Eliminates Fatigue and Jet Lag
- Promotes Total Calm and Peaceful Relaxation
Your Senses Removed
The environment in the tanks is controlled to a comfortable skin-receptor neutral 94.0oF (34oC) which means you will slowly lose track of where the water or air begins and your physical body ends.
It is recommended to keep your ears below the water with earplugs in (provided by us). Both the tanks as well as the rooms they are situated in are insulated against sound leaving you in peaceful silence (or soothing meditative music if you prefer).
Once the tank is closed you will be in complete darkness, it won’t matter if your eyes are opened or closed. For some this might be a bit challenging, and you always have the option to float with the door open if you like.
When you enter deep states of relaxation the body can do incredible things in terms of the experience itself. It’s possible to have dreamlike visions or complete serenity and silence. The body can begin to release dopamine and endorphins making you feel great, your brain can drop into deep ???? theta states and allow the body to rest, destress and heal. It’s quite likely the most relaxing experience you will ever have. Do you find yourself having trouble relaxing or letting go?
The best part about floating is you need no experience or special skills to do it. Some people are so relaxed they even fall asleep during the session (which is totally OK too!) Even if you do fall asleep your body will continue to float effortlessly like you’re sleeping on a cloud. Some people say after floating for 1 hour they feel more rested and relaxed than after a whole night of sleeping!
We recommend multiple floats especially for first time floaters because there is a bit of an adjustment period for some people. Just like some people struggle with meditation on their first try (having too many random thoughts or feeling restless) will usually get the hang after a couple tries. It can be compared to having to acquire a certain taste for a new food. As the body and mind gets more comfortable with the experience the results can (and will) increase exponentially for most people.
Not surprisingly, many people report looking and feeling younger after an hour of Floating.
Your skin will be baby soft and glowing when you come out of your Float. That’s because your skin absorbs some of the Epsom Salt you’re Floating in and thus becomes very hydrated and more elastic.
First time floaters will notice feeling calmer, happier, more positive and confident, for several days following their Float. Your senses will also seem heightened after you Float. Colours, sounds, etc, will seem more vibrant and sharper.
The positive and beneficial effects of Floating the second, third, and each subsequent Float thereafter produces greater and greater (cumulative) results and the benefits last from days to weeks.
And above all, feeling and being completely weightless just feels great!
We do accept walk-ins. But customers with a reservation have priority.
There are probably many times and occasions people should not float, but here are three:
If you have epilepsy that is not under any medical control;
If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
If you have had tattoo work within the last 2-4 weeks, and maybe you should wait for 6 weeks if your tattoo is really colourful.
We will give you ear plugs prior to your float. But if you don’t want to use them, or if salt water accidentally gets in your ears, we have the solution for you. In every room we provide a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Just rinse out your ears with fresh water first, then squirt this solution in each ear one or two times. That should do it.
Most people prefer to not wear anything at all, but are certainly welcome to float in a bathing suit.
Yes! There are two mini changerooms with showers equipped with a blow dryer.
While there is no guarantee that the salt won’t strip some color from your hair, we recommend that you check if the water running through your hair in the shower at home is fully clear. If there is still some color coming out you should wait a couple of more days/showers. If your hair does bleed into the tank you can be charged up to $1500 to clean out the entire tank and filtration system and refill all the salt.
Feel free to experiment and do whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Someone will show you the basic and common positions before your float but feel free to experiment.
Its not uncommon to fall asleep during your float due to the deep relaxed state you enter into. Due to the high salt content the water in the tank is incredibly buoyant. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll roll in your sleep in which case the worst that can happen is getting woken up by a bit of salt water in your eyes or mouth.
Yes, you can reach very deep states of meditation, and may experience all sorts of things you may or may not be familiar with. Its an amazing opportunity to let go and explore!
Yes we offer 1.5 hour floats and longer upon request.
It is safe for adults, including pregnant women. However, we highly recommend those suffering from any medical conditions consult their physician prior to floating. If you’re under the age of 16 we require parental consent.
Each float room is private so you’re ok to leave your stuff on the bench beside the tank while you float.
The magnesium sulfate actually makes your skin very silky and soft. You will absorb some of the Epsom salt, so it’s advised that you to drink plenty of water or tea after your float. You won’t prune up either from being in the water so long this is also due to the high salt content of the water.
Epsom salt – magnesium sulfate – is a chemical compound containing magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Combined with water, it raises the water’s specific gravity, resulting in a dense solution in which a body can float effortlessly. Epsom salt has been proven to be highly absorbable by the skin resulting in countless benefits to the body including detoxification, strengthening of the immune system, heightened endorphin release, and relief from physical, mental, and emotional stress and fatigue
For more details check out our cleaning section. In a nutshell the water is fully filtered 3-5 times between each float, passing through an intense filtration system for particulate matter and then a UV filter which targets the DNA and RNA of bacteria, viruses, algae and other biological matter. The environment created with the high concentration of salt with some natural disinfectant (Medical Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 35%) makes it nearly impossible for any type of microorganism to survive.
The first float tank was developed in 1954. These involved full submersion in water and a breathing device that completely covered your face. The first lay down, commercial tanks were invented in the early 70′s.
No you can enter or exit as much as you like. There aren’t any latches on the tank doors, and you can get out anytime. That being said, the 60-minutes usually goes by a lot faster than you’d expect.
Only one person per tank. Double-wide tanks do exist, but we feel that they take away from the whole ‘sensory deprivation’ experience.
We have 4 Pro Float Cabins from Pro Float Inc, the Canadian Leader in float tank manufacturing and design.
If you have longer hair, you may want to bring a comb. Also, something to put your contact lenses into while you’re in the tank. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT FLOATING WITH CONTACTS IN. Other than that, we provide everything you need (towels, earplugs, body wash/shampoo, tea, water,..)
Yes. Just follow the same protocol you would for a swimming pool. However we have a policy that any accidents of any type or kind that compromise the tank will result in a $1500 to refill the water and replace all of the Epson salts.
Check out our float prep section on our website. But quickly here: Don’t drink coffee or Alcohol for several hours beforehand (it can make your system jittery). Also, we suggest not shaving the day of your float, the salt water can irritate your skin. Eating a light meal about an hour to 90 minutes ahead of time stops your stomach from rumbling while you float which can be distracting. Other than that, check out our float tips page for more tips to have the best float experience possible.
Floating is known for heightening deep mental relaxation. Floating allows the brain to produce a greater amount of theta waves, generally resulting in an increase in mental clarity, creativity and memory function. It is said to increase the release of the endorphins, which leads to elevated mood states and alleviation of anxiety, depression, and negative mental habits.
There are a lot of Pregnant women who love floating! There is even a special position you can float in that can potentially relieve all of the weight of the baby off of the mother’s body which can be a great help to those suffering from lower back pain. If you are in your third trimester, or have any concerns, please consult with your physician before coming in.
It’s a combination of the sensory deprivation, no sound, touch or site, feeling totally weightless combined with magnesium sulfate which is a mineral known to help people relax. However some people on their first float are so unfamiliar with this environment they have trouble settling in. That’s why we recommend most people float at least 3 times when starting to get the hang of it.
Most plans that cover Massage also include Hydrotherapy under that category. Floating falls under Hydrotherapy when under the guidance of an RMT. If you are unsure, ask your provider if you are covered for Hydrotherapy with an RMT.
Our tanks are state of the art Pro Float cabins that you can actually stand up in. Once you’re comfortably in, being in the tanks is more like floating in outer space than being shut in a box. You’re always in control of your environment, and even people with extreme claustrophobia have reported having no problems during their time in the tank. If you still feel uncomfortable you can also leave the door open as long as you like.
Book a Float Session
Want to reduce stress? How about optimize your mental and physical performance? Just want to relax? We can help!
What We use to Keep Our Water Crystal Clear, Clean and Safe.
Our pods & open concept tubs have 1000+ lbs of High Grade USP Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) in 10 inches of water! This brings our salt concentration to nearly 30%. The effects of high levels of salt for sanitation have been known for hundreds of years.
“No pathogenic organisms can survive salt concentrations above approximately 10 percent”. Our pods & tubs concentration exceeds this 3 times over!
All the water in the pods & tubs is circulated 24/7 and multiple times between users to pull out any organic impurities in the water through UV and Ozonator Filters. In addition we treat our water with hydrogen peroxide (h202) to help break down the organic matter so the filters do an even better job of keeping the water sparkling clean. This is just an extra precaution required to ensure that all bacteria is killed.
Our water is tested several times daily to balance and maintain proper Alkaline & PH levels. We’re here to ensure your that your float experience is completely relaxing and soothing.
“The only organisms that could possibly live in this environment are halophylic or halo tolerant bacteria that have adapted to high salt concentrations and are found in the environment at places like the Great Salt Lake or the Dead Sea. These organisms are not pathogenic and do not pose a threat to humans.”
While we ask that people shower and wash makeup, oil, etc from their body, sometimes it still gets in the water. In addition to the natural cleansing properties of Epsom salt, we also have an extensive filtration system.
3x Filtration – The entirety of the water is filtered through a 1-10 micron filter a minimum of three times after each float. Skimmers are used to keep the surface completely clear.
UV / Hydrogen Peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant in the tanks – a non-toxic alternative to chlorine and bromine. High powered UV light units are attached to the pump system for added sanitation.
Proper Chemistry – We rigorously measure and maintain the pH, alkalinity, specific gravity, and temperature of the tanks. The water in the float tank is about 30% epsom salt, which is a difficult environment for a lot of bacteria to live in (the Dead Sea is named that for a reason). Our tanks are likely to have some of the cleanest water you’ve ever been in.
How is the tank water cleaned?
It may come as a surprise to our clients but float tank water goes through a treatment process similar to drinking water. Once the floater has exited the tank, the filtration system is turned on. The entire body of water is then filtered a minimum of 3 times before the next float session.
Stage 1 Pumping: When the filtration system is turned on, the water is pumped out of the float tank cavity.
Stage 2 Large Material Filtration: First, the water passes through a fine screen to remove large particulate matter e.g. hair or small earplug pieces.
Stage 3 Micro-filtration: After larger particulate matter is removed, the water is then pushed through a 1-10 micron filter to remove any additional suspended material or large bacteria.
Stage 4 Disinfection: Immediately following the filtration stages, the almost-clean-water passes through a UV light. As the UV light passes through the water, the energy (wavelength) is absorbed by the microorganisms and breaks down pathogens’ DNA. DNA is the code that tells the organism how to reproduce. Without being able to reproduce, it cannot cause infection or illness.
In addition to UV light treatment, hydrogen peroxide is added daily to the water to assist with disinfection. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down microorganism cell walls, removing any potential threat from undesirable pathogens. Hydrogen peroxide is a non-toxic chemical alternative to chlorine or bromine, is completely water soluble, and does not produce harmful residues or gasses.
Stage 5 Water Quality Testing: To ensure that the filtration and disinfectants are functioning, water quality tests are conducted by the float specialist on duty. The tests include: hydrogen peroxide levels, pH, alkalinity, and temperature. We also regularly measure the specific gravity and tank water depth to ensure you will float with ease!
We are also inspected on a random basis by public health to ensure our tanks are meeting their standards.
Float Prep Tips
Preparing for your float
Here are some helpful tips that we’ve learned to make your float the best it can be.
Avoid shaving (or waxing) your body 12 hours before a float, although men who regularly shave their beards can shave 6 hours beforehand. Epsom salt stings!
Just follow through on your normal daily hydration. Even brains need water!
Eat a light meal no sooner than an hour before you float. If you are either hungry or too full you may be distracted and unable to relax in your float.
Before you shower and before you float, use the washroom one last time. Can you imagine if nature called halfway through your float?
Avoid that last minute caffeine fix. Stimulants and floating just don’t mix.
If you can, don’t give into that craving just before you float. Too much stimulation. Who knows, by the end of your float, that craving might have disappeared.
Getting active before your float is a great idea. Yoga, running, and resistance training are all activities that pair well with floating. Our infrared saunas are also an amazing pre float combo. Your muscles and fascia will be loose and flowing with blood which helps to cleanse and repair your tissues. By using up any excess energy, your body will naturally ease into a deeper state of relaxation and meditation. Think of your float as the ultimate Savasana!
Before your Float
- You can book your float by calling us, through our website or our app.
- Show up about 5-10 minutes before your float. If this is your first float, come 15 minutes early for your orientation session so we can walk you through the whole process and answer any questions you may have.
- Use the bathroom if you need to before you enter the float room.
- Make sure to turn off your phone.
- Remove any makeup, jewelry or contacts you’re wearing, and brush your hair. If you need to put on a hair cap provided.
- Shower using the shampoo and body wash we provide for you. Do not use the conditioner before your float.
- Dry out your ears and securely place the earplugs we provide.
Enjoy Your Float
- You can start by sitting in the center of the tank and slowly lean back into a floating position. You can use the head ring to rest your head on.
- Try to calm your breathing, relax, breathe slowly and deeply as you move into deeper states of relaxation.
- Find YOUR floating position (arms across your body, at your sides or behind your head are 3 common options, or find a position unique to you!)
- Be still – the less you move the more you will relax. Also moving may splash water into your face and eyes which may sting. There is an eye spray bottle just outside each tank with fresh water to rinse your eyes in case of contact.
- Try to be present sit there in the absence of stimuli and just be. Let any thoughts that arise melt away.
- Float until we wake you!
After your Float
- Music will slowly fade into your float chamber as your session ends to gently wake you.
- Take care when you step out of your chamber and into the shower to rinse off the salt water. We provide shampoo, body wash and post-float conditioner. Feel free to bring your own as well.
- Feel free to use our two private changerooms after your float. You’ll find hair dryers, other equipment, and toiletries there for your use.
- Join us in the Lounge for a post-float tea before you leave.
There is a lot of scientific research on the benefits of floating, some of which can be found on our site. Here we summarize the main benefits.
Whether you are a student, an athlete, a creative artist, a meditator, or a member of the business community, floating can really help you. The best part of floating is that it requires so little effort, but its effects are often both immediate and long-lasting.