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Northwest Floatation Center

The Science Behind REST and Float Tanks

The Science Behind REST and Float Tanks

Sensory deprivation tanks today are featured on popular media and are being used more frequently by average people looking to relieve stress, pain, and other chronic ailments. How did floatation therapy come into being? How does it work?

The first sensory deprivation tank was created by neuroscientist John C. Lilly. He was curious about what the effects the elimination of external stimulus would have on the mind. An LSD enthusiastic who believed in creatures from other dimensions, he had some particular expectations on the effects the tank would yield. This first tank had 160 gallons of water, and participants were submerged completely from the neck down. They wore a “blackout” mask to eliminate any light pollution. The temperature of the air and the water were tightly controlled to be the same as average skin at 34 degrees Celsius.

The tanks eventually morphed to become more like what they are today. The masks were done away with, and rather than facilitating complete submersion, newer tanks contained a high concentration of dissolved Epsom salts, allowing participants to float easily.

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Northwest Floatation Center

Autism and REST: How Floatation Therapy Can Help

Autism and REST: How Floatation Therapy Can Help

Having a child with autism means thinking outside the box. Depending on the severity of the condition, children with autism suffer greatly from situations others handle more easily. Autistic children often respond differently to social stimuli. They may avoid eye contact, not respond to hugs or know how to ask for help, and seem unsure how to relate to others in a way that they’ll be understood.

Autism is defined by a spectrum of conditions. One thing all autistic children have in common is their need to be treated with compassion and understanding, like any child. Feeling constantly overstimulated can be overwhelming for anybody, but is especially necessary for a child’s positive development. Overstimulated autistic children may respond with yelling or become despondent and unresponsive.

Fortunately, there are ways to help autistic children get relief from being overstimulated by day-to-day life. One method that studies have shown to be helpful is REST. REST involves laying suspended in a dark saltwater tank. The tanks were originally called “sensory deprivation” tanks – so it’s easy to see why they may help autistic children who suffer from being overstimulated.

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