At first, without any sound, smell, touch, and in complete darkness, people tend to fear the idea of floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Although it may be a very new experience, there is nothing about it that warrants being fearful. In fact, an analysis in 1997 of over 1000 people who participated in sensory deprivation, concluded that more than 90% of subjects found it deeply relaxing.
Studies Show Enhanced Creativity
To test the effects of floatation on creativity, five university professors conducted a study where they underwent six 90-minute float sessions . They found that six 90-minute float sessions inspired more “creative” ideas, coinciding with an increase in free imagery and remote associations. In a similar study with 40 university students, their scores on a standardized test used to measure creativity were increased after only a single hour of floating.
Studies Show Enhanced Athletic & Musical Performance
Another well-researched effect of flotation is enhanced performance in numerous athletic and musical tasks including basketball, tennis, archery and jazz improvisation. All of these require high levels of concentration and visual-motor coordination, and all were improved with sensory deprivation. A study with 13 jazz students suggested lasting benefits when four sessions in a floatation tank enhanced their technical performance a week after their floatation experience.
Why Does it Benefit Creativity and Performance?
Although further research is still needed, pioneering psychologist in the field of sensory deprivation Dr. Peter Suedfeld speculates that enhanced creativity and performance come because the act of floating while deprived of all senses is similar to that experienced during sleep or meditation.
We know that during states of rest the brain consolidates recent knowledge for long-term storage and repeatedly rehearses newly acquired skills. Compared to sleep or meditation, says Suedfeld, these “twilight” states are more easily achievable without prior training or conscious effort via flotation. Further study using brain imaging techniques can help us understand on a deeper level how sleep and meditation compare to floatation at a neurological level.
Flotation is Making a Comeback
The act of floatation has a broad range of scientifically verified effects. The studies and mystique behind floating in complete darkness while deprived of all senses have re-enlivened interest in this form of spiritual and physical therapy.
As Dr. Suedfeld has pointed out, “There is a resurgence of the research since the 2000s”, and more fascinating discoveries regarding floatation are to come in the future. As for right now, we have enough evidence to show that floatation can significantly improve the quality of your life. The next step is to make these available at an affordable price for in-home use