Floating is proven to improve health, decrease stress, and detox the mind. But what exactly is going on in the brain when we float in a floatation tank? Visual cortexes become active, different senses are activated, and vasodilation improves overall brain functionality. There is science behind why people feel better mentally after a floating session. The following are a few of the ways the brain is affected from floatation:
- Increased blood flow. The body temperature water that surrounds one during a floatation session serves to expand blood vessels throughout the body, increasing blood flow to every extremity and getting oxygenated blood to the brain more quickly and with less effort. The heart rate slows down as well, providing oxygenated blood with the slow, powerful beats associated with good health. This stronger blood flow to the brain helps promote more efficient mental activity, and the lower heart rate calms the body and relieves physical, emotional, and mental stress.
- Increase in Theta waves. This is one of the most consistent findings of floatation studies. Theta waves are also shown to be more prominent during meditation and during REM sleep, and are indicative of drowsiness. Theta waves are also associated with the vivid lucid dreams and imaginings of the time just before falling asleep and just after waking up, as well as the vivid brain activity of deep sleep.
By encouraging the brain to fall into a Theta rhythm, floatation can help to inspire creativity and imagination and provide an enjoyable and restful experience. It can also maintain Theta waves, which many scientists have trouble doing, as the period between being awake and sleeping is typically very short.
- Decrease in stress symptoms. Three of the hormones commonly seen in stress responses, cortisol, ACTH, and epinephrine, were all shown to decrease during time in the floatation tank, as well as for some time after the floating experience. Corticosteroids, which are produced in higher volume during stressful situations and have been linked to stress-related illnesses, have also been shown to decrease during floatation.
By decreasing the levels of stress-related hormones in the brain, one can guard against a variety of issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and various physiological problems. Floatation has also been shown to decrease chronic pain and improve mental health conditions like addiction.