The mental and physical impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drastic changes in our lifestyle is undeniable at this point. Those who have had trouble coping with these challenging times have begun to experiences symptoms of depression and anxiety.
These mental health conditions are proven disruptors of sleep. Aside from their serious impact on overall physical health, well-being, and quality of life, people with depression and anxiety will most likely experience sleep problems as well as an effect.
On the flip side, there continue to emerge new ways through which we can manage these. And no, this article is not about just drinking plenty of water as an oversimplified way to manage depression and anxiety. We will be talking about floating therapy and its specific impact on one’s sleeping patterns.
For those unaware, floatation rest is a new innovation in the sleep industry proven and tested to minimize sensory reception in the nervous system. Flotation rest is done by floating horizontally in a pool of Epsom salt or Magnesium sulfate water solution. The goal of this mechanism is that when you are floating on this solution, you will not be able to tell what part of your body is submerged or not, meaning your sensory abilities are reduced greatly.
This sensory deprivation is said to be a comprehensive remedy that not only improves the mental state by reducing stress and anxiety, but also the overall physical well-being.
While this might be the first time some may discover floating or float therapy, it has actually been practiced and studied since the 1980s. In 1989, a study involving four sessions of two hours of floatation over two weeks showed that this practices greatly subdued symptoms of insomnia among subjects. Findings showed that the subjects’ sleep latency significantly reduced, which means they were able to fall asleep more quickly. Beyond this, these improvements have been found to be in effect up to three months after the experiment, showing how long-term the possible effects can be.
Here are a few ways we found in our research that illustrates how floating can reduce stress and anxiety.
A study from 2017 using an EEG tool to measure brainwaves found that floating sessions were actually able to quickly and deeply shift the psychological state to a significantly relaxed state of consciousness.
Particularly, scientists found that brain activity in the middle of floating sessions was similar to brain activity when in Stage 1 sleep, which is the lightest phase in the sleeping cycle. This is due to its ability to lower cortisol and amp up low-frequency brain waves.
For people with high levels of anxiety, floating was found to greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension and blood pressure. With that, interoceptive awareness was found to have been boosted, which is essential in cushioning the psychological effects of stress, physical pain, and psychological trauma.
One study involved a single subject who had concurring mental health conditions, namely post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, anxiety, and depression. They initially took on the therapy to relieve headaches from the medications, but after a year a half of floating sessions, results showed significant progress in their treatment.
Burnout has become a common term nowadays because of the conditions under the pandemic and the major adjustments everyone had to catch up with. Floatation therapy was found to be able to increase a sense of well-being and productivity. This, in effect, has been able to improve the daily performance of subjects.
By Katie Pierce
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