Sensory deprivation can be experienced when floating in an isolation tank, created to remove external stimuli: sound, sight, smell and touch. Another way floating is referred to in research studies is “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique,” or floating-REST.
Float tanks, float rooms, float pods, are used for inducing sensory deprivation or more so sensory enhancement as one becomes more aware of their own thoughts and sensations in the body. The tanks are filled with a magnesium-rich salty solution that matches the temperature of the floater’s body, along with high amounts of Epsom salt ( magnesium sulphate), allowing one to remain restfully floating at the water’s surface in complete silence and stillness.
During the entire session, floaters generally feel light and peaceful, without needing to exert any effort to stay afloat.
As you’ll learn below, floatation-REST’ has positive effects that impact one physiology, including lowering levels of cortisol, lowering blood pressure and promoting positive feelings of well-being. Studies show that increased mindfulness and decreased stress during a sensory deprivation tank float session reduce markers of bodily distress syndrome (BDS).
Researchers often use the term ‘BDS’ to describe negative physiological changes that take place when someone is under a lot of stress. These BDS signs are now tied to things like fibromyalgia symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome and somatization disorder.