By Art of the Float
The benefits of 7-8 hours of sleep are well known, and much has been written in recent years explaining how it can affect a whole range of physical and emotional processes. After a long day most of us are looking forward to a good, restorative night of sleep, but we’ve all experienced restless nights spent tossing and turning. The following day often results in looking forward eagerly to sleep and then staring at the ceiling when it’s finally time to rest again. What can we do if we already follow all the recommended sleep hygiene tips? Can floating help us to more easily access that deep level of relaxation needed for restful sleep?
Can float therapy help you?
A review of the current research turned up a Swedish study from 2010. Anette Kjellgren, Hanne Buhrkall, and Torsten Norlander researched the effectiveness of floating for sufferers of “burn out syndrome”. If you are currently dealing with burnout syndrome, are just dealing with a stressful week at work, or are an athlete feeling beat up from hard workouts, the results are still fascinating and show that floating may help you get better sleep. The study had four women and two men enter a 10 week program of floating and conversational therapy, floating twice a week for 45 mins each time. Following this treatment the researchers found that:
“Clients reported generally improved sleep during the course of treatment, in particular, during nights that followed flotation-REST.” 1
Benefits that last in time
It’s important to note that while the effect was more pronounced on days when they floated, the benefits still extended to the days where they did not float! This is an encouraging data point for most of us who can’t float twice a week like the study participants. Not only did they report improved sleep quality, but they found that they had an easier time relaxing in bed.
“The clients experienced an effortlessly relaxed state while lying in bed, as well as a deliberate and unintentional ability to influence the level of relaxation by imitating the resting body position experienced in the tank and composing their respiration” 2
This suggests that long term floating helps us extend that incredible relaxed feeling we may be familiar with during a float to other areas of our life! And that heavy fatigue that we sometimes feel after a rough night of sleep? Participants reported “feeling more rested, with more energy in the mornings.” 3
Taking all of this together as a whole, it is strong evidence that floating can help with overall quality of, and ability to get to sleep. So if you’ve made other changes in your sleep hygiene and are still struggling to drift off at night, or even if you don’t struggle to find rest, but would still like to experience the “effortlessly relaxed state”4 the study participants described, floating may help provide you with the right tools to drift off to a peaceful night of rest.
1,2,3,4 Kjellgren, A., Buhrkall, H., & Norlander, T. (2010). Psychotherapeutic Treatment in Combination with Relaxation in a Flotation Tank: Effects on “Burn-Out Syndrome.” Qualitative Report, 15(5), 1243–1269.