We all know that feeling of having jet lag (or simply exhaustion from traveling) take away from the first few days of an otherwise great trip. Catching up on sleep and trying to get into a rhythm in a new time zone after a long flight can take a few days — precious days that you could be using to explore and enjoy yourself! When I take a long international flight, I have a little jet lag trick that I use as often as possible: I book a session in a float tank immediately when I land at my destination. If I do a 60-90 minute float upon arrival, it always makes my body feel rested and rejuvenated from the long day (or days) of travel, and significantly reduces the recovery time I need to feel like myself again.
Float tanks are opening up all over the world as people start to understand and experience the health benefits, and it’s becoming easier than ever to find a float tank in most major cities. One of the most celebrated benefits of the float tank is getting deep, deep rest — some say that one hour in the tank is more restful for your body than a full night of sleep!
What is a float tank?
Float tanks, or sensory deprivation tanks, are typically pods or small pools filled with water and Epsom salt – so much salt that your body floats effortlessly. “Sensory deprivation” is the goal – to be stimulated as little as possible so your body can focus on rest and recovery. It’s completely dark (unless you prefer to keep the lights on), there’s no sound (you wear earplugs in the tank), and the water is set to body temperature so you really can’t feel a thing. The result is that your body completely relaxes, while you’re soaking up the healing magnesium from the epsom salts.
Without any stimulation from the outside world, your stress levels are significantly lowered, and there’s no pressure at all on your joints so it allows your entire body take a break. This means your body’s energy resources can be used completely for resting and healing. With nothing to focus on but your mind and breath, being inside the float tank can easily drift you into a state of deep meditation. Putting yourself into this relaxed state can majorly reduce the effects that the stress and lack of sleep from travel have on your body and mind.
What else does floating help with?
One of the reasons many people swear by float tanks for jet lag is the significant reduction on stress, anxiety and fatigue – and the way it promotes deep relaxation. But others float to relieve chronic pain, recover from sports injuries, battle insomnia, get into a deep meditation, generate creative ideas, experience enhanced problem solving, boost the immune system, and more.
What can you expect during your first float?
When you get to the float tank center, you’ll have your own private float room with a shower. The first time you float, you may need a little time to get relaxed inside the tank. Expect the first 15-20 minutes of your float to be dedicated to settling in and letting your mind and body truly relax. It will be very dark and quiet, but don’t worry – you can keep the light on or the door to the tank open if you need some extra time to ease into total sensory deprivation. After that, you’ll ease into a state of complete relaxation. When your float ends, music will begin playing in the tank, or jets will turn on inside the tank to wake you from your dream state if you fell asleep.
To find a float tank near you, simply put “float tank” into your map on your phone and see what your options are, or check out FloatationLocations.com. When you have a long flight ahead of you, I suggest heading to the float tank directly from the airport and get at least 60 minutes in the tank to get a head start on beating that jet lag!
For more on the float tank experience: What It’s Like Inside A Sensory Deprivation Float Tank
Have you been in a float tank before? What was your experience like?