Suffering from regularly disrupted sleep? Float Therapy could be your ticket to a peaceful slumber.
It's official: Australia is in the grip of a sleep deprivation epidemic. According to research published by the Sleep Health Foundation, between 33 to 45 per cent of our nation's adults are either sleeping poorly or not long enough most evenings. And this is making a significant impact on not just our moods, but our health.
Tiffany Dunk counts herself amongst those numbers. So when she was offered a chance to trial a therapy promising a deeper, more restful sleep, she jumped at the opportunity. Here's what she found when she gave Float Therapy a go.
Like many people I know, sleep and I haven't always got the best relationship. And in times of stress that relationship breaks down even further. Recently, I've been anxious about a few things which have seen me not only struggle to go to sleep in the first place but ping awake at 2 am and lie stewing for what feels like hours before finally drifting back off into a fitful slumber.
I'd heard people mention Float Therapy as a possible cure for my periodic insomnia. And Ben Lucas, owner of Flow Athletic and Flow Revive in Sydney jois those in advocating for a treatment.
"Floatation therapy is a form of sensory deprivation therapy," he explains of the treatment which sees you lie inside a completely lightless, soundproofed and enclosed bath filled with room temperature salt water for 75 minutes."This means it removes external stimuli such as sight and sound from the body to help you mentally de-stress and experience a deep sense of calm.
"Many of us experience alert, overactive minds and floating encourages the brain waves to go from Alpha (alert and active) into a Theta state, which is your entry to sleep. The peaceful environment allows your mind to unwind and the anti-gravity effect of the tank from the Epson salt bath solution helps the muscles to relax, a common problem faced by insomnia sufferers."
What to expect
Upon arriving at Flow Revive, I filled in a form with both my medical history and my goals of what I wanted to achieve from my float before being ushered into a private room where the tank awaits.
Filled with 40 per cent Epsom salts, the concentration of the water means you float effortlessly - and if you fall asleep (more on that later), it's impossible to sink or even inadvertently turn over. After taking a shower to remove any make up, moisturisers or other body products, I pop in some earplugs (an optional choice, I just didn't want to get water in my ears) and slide into the tank. While you can wear swimwear, like most "floaters" I chose to go naked as the Epsom salt solution is said to be beneficial for both your skin and hair.
For those nervous about being in pitch darkness, the good news is you completely control your entry into the tank. There's a light inside the tank which you can switch on and off at will. Plus you close the tank yourself when you are ready to immerse yourself in the experience. You also open it at the end of your treatment.
Given there was no clock or any way of telling time inside the device, I was nervous that I wouldn't know when to emerge. At Flow Revive when your 75 minutes is up they play some gentle music to let you know it's time to emerge. If you can't hear it or have fallen asleep, then they will make some gentle waves in the water to rouse you. A few minutes after that, the light inside the tank will go on. However, it's important to note that you can get out of the float tank at any time you choose.
After easing myself into the water, turning off the light and closing the tank it took me maybe five to 10 minutes to get into what felt like a completely comfortable position. At first, I was panicking I wouldn't float properly (despite the assurances). Then, once I'd accustomed myself to feeling like a floating cork, Ibobbing on the surface, I kept touching the walls for reassurance as to where I was in the tank. But primarily I found it really difficult to turn my brain off. It's not uncommon according to Ben, who offers this advice for fellow first-timers.
"Everybody will have a unique experience whether that’s going into mediated state or staying totally aware," he says. "Before entering, have zero expectations of how the float will be and let your body surrender to the experience. You may feel that analysing a certain situation in your life during your session will bring a greater acceptance and understanding or you may prefer to completely block out and take a break from any daily stresses."
Once I had laid inside the tank for around 15 minutes, I started to really relax into the experience. While my mind still wandered a little, mostly I just focused on the utter sense of weightlessness and relaxation. After a really busy week, it felt like the height of indulgence to literally not think or worry about anything. And then I'm pretty sure I fell asleep because the next thing I knew gentle music had started up and it was time to exit the tank.
I wrapped up my float at around 7.30 pm and the relaxed feeling lasted not just all the way home, but throughout the evening. It's advised not to eat prior to your float so I had a light dinner and then found I had to struggle to stay awake until what felt like a reasonable bedtime hour.
Once my head hit the pillow though, I was almost instantly asleep. And that feeling has lasted over the following few days. However Ben says another session shouldn't be out of the question to continue my improved sleeping pattern.
"Regular float sessions are greatly beneficial for anyone that experiences disturbed sleeping patterns," he says. "It would be recommended to book in a session every once or two weeks for maximum results. This would allow you to dedicate time simply to de-load and de-stress on the current week to help aid a regular sleeping pattern."
And a good sleep and stress relief isn't the only thing you can expect from Float Therapy.
"It is also great for pain relief from symptoms such as back pain, inflammation and arthritis," adds Ben. The anti-gravity float removes the pressure on your muscles and joints allowing them to lengthen. This release of pressure increases blood flow to the area in pain. The Epson salts are also amazing for post workout recovery as well as for your skin and hair."
To find out more or to book a float at Flow Revive, click here.