The science behind sensory deprivation

Dec 15, 2023 | Blog

Ozone Wellness

A sensory deprivation tank, also called an isolation tank or flotation tank, is used for intense relaxation by depriving the body of outside stimulants — sound, sight, and gravity. The tank is dark and soundproof, filled with a foot or less of salt water. But, you probably already knew all that. So, let’s shed some light on the science behind sensory deprivation experiences, and why they’re soothing for the body and mind.

The history

Originally designed in 1954 by an American physician and neuroscientist, Dr John Lilly, these tanks were initially designed as medical research tools. Lilly wanted to study the origins of consciousness, but was unable to do so amidst the business of brain. So, he cut off external stimuli with the tank to naturally quiet the mind.

In the 1970s, commercial float tanks were being mass produced, and began being studied for possible health benefits, rather than consciousness itself.

The science


Since the 1970s, there have been thousands of studies on the physical and mental health benefits of sensory tanks. These include muscle relaxation, a boosted immune system, improved sleep (both falling asleep and staying asleep), healing and decreased physical pain, enhanced creativity, and decreased stress and anxiety, and many more.

It’s all to do with allowing the mind to be truly uninterrupted and access something called “theta brainwaves”.


This process involves heating the Epsom salt water in the tank is to skin temperature, so you can’t really “feel” the water. The salts provide buoyancy so you float more easily, leading to that anti-gravity sensation. You enter the tank naked or in minimal clothing, are cut off from all outside stimulates — sound, sight, and gravity — and tank is closed. As you float weightless in the silence and darkness, the brain is able to enter a deeply relaxed state.

About 40-minutes into your float, the brain stops producing normal alpha-waves and starts producing theta-waves. These are responsible for that ‘between-waking-and-sleeping’ state — you make these naturally in the seconds before sleep. While it only lasts for a few moments in your bed, you can access a prolonged theta-state as you float, experiencing a sensation of being intensely awake yet extremely relaxed (although some people do choose to sleep as a part of their experience).

The benefits

Theta brainwaves produce deep mental and physical relaxation, leading to numerous benefits for the body and mind. Here’s an in-depth look at how your body accesses these benefits through float experiences.


The tank suppresses the functioning of the Sympathetic Nervous System (responsible for our fight or flight response), and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, responsible for relaxation, healing, and replenishment. You’ll notice a decrease in muscle tension, blood pressure, stress, as well as an increase in endorphins. You’ll also experience visual acuity, improved tactile perception, improved auditory sensitivity, and increased taste sensitivities after floating.

Pain management & enhanced healing

In addition to being rich in Magnesium, the density of the Epsom Salt solution creates an anti-gravity environment which lowers sensory stimulation. This provides relief from chronic muscular back pain, neck pain, and aches commonly experienced with chronic illnesses and conditions. Floating also increases blood circulation to extremities promoting greater elimination of metabolic by products, this boosts your healing process and reduces pain resultant from poor circulation.

Increased immune function

The immune function is enhanced by suppressing stress hormones, which not only weaken the immune system, but also suppress digestive and reproductive systems. Stress hormones affect regeneration processes, and decrease insulin sensitivity.

Magnesium absorption

Epsom Salts are absorbed through skin and can supplement your diet with Magnesium. This aids in preventing cardiovascular disease, regulates blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis, relieves menopause symptoms, provides PMS relief, create healthier bones and teeth, and detoxify.

Behaviour modification & super-learning

In a theta-state, the mind becomes hyper-suggestible. It can deeply absorb new material, with research showing improved performance in memory and recall activities after float tank experiences.

Floating also allows the left and right sides of the brain to communicate and synchronise. This can cause elevated states of creativity, greater non-linear connections, and deeper realisations. This allows visualisation to become very powerful. From athletes preparing for competition to public speakers rehearsing a presentation, the tank can induce the calm needed to perform at ones best. Mental rehearsal research has shown it to be just as practical as physical rehearsal.


Floating and the relaxation floods the body with endorphins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for relieving pain, enhancing our mood (decreasing feelings of depression to potentially generating feelings of euphoria), suppressing our appetite, and reducing anxiety.

Improved sleep

The change in physical and mental states may put your body and mind to rest much easier each night. One hour of sleep while floating is equivalent to up to six hours of deep sleep. So, if you pulled an all-nighter, suffer from insomnia, or have a baby who never lets you sleep, regular floating can help make up for any lack of sleep you may experiencing.

Book your experience

At Ozone Wellness, we have a Superior Float Room— an industry-top manufacturer of therapeutic floatation tanks and equipment. Or Float Room is one of the biggest float rooms in the world and is completely BPA free.

Our Float Room has 100% natural Epsom Salt that has been sustainably sourced in Germany; one of the few places where you will find naturally occurring and derived raw materials for Epsom Salts. These salts have no additives, mercury, artificial materials, and have not been manufactured or modified in any way. They also have lower levels of secondary salts than many Epsom Salts on the market, and are higher in purity as a result. Salts are FCC Food Grade Magnesium Sulphate.

To experience sensory deprivations for yourself — as well as the wellness benefits — book a consult today.