Sleep deprivation tanks, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, are chambers or pods that are designed to block out external stimuli such as light, sound, and touch. The tanks are typically filled with salt water at body temperature, which allows individuals to float effortlessly. A sleep deprivation tank aims to create an environment that promotes relaxation to reduce stress. While there is limited scientific research on the effects that sleep deprivation tanks have on anxiety, some studies suggest it may be beneficial.
A recent study examined the effects of floatation therapy on anxiety and found that participants who underwent floatation therapy reported significant reductions in anxiety levels. The study also found that the benefits of floatation therapy persisted for several months after the treatment was completed. Another study published examined the effects of floatation therapy on individuals with generalized anxiety disorder. The study found that floatation therapy participants reported significantly reduced anxiety, depression, and stress levels. While the research on sleep deprivation tanks and anxiety is limited, these studies suggest that floatation therapy may be valuable in reducing anxiety levels. By creating an environment that promotes relaxation and reduces external stimuli, individuals may be better able to manage their anxiety symptoms.
In addition to potentially reducing anxiety, some evidence suggests that sensory deprivation tanks may have other beneficial effects on both physical and mental health. Here are a few examples:
A recent study found that floatation therapy effectively reduced chronic muscle tension pain in participants. Other studies have also suggested that floatation therapy may help manage pain associated with fibromyalgia and arthritis.
A small study found that floatation therapy was associated with improved sleep quality and increased well-being. Another study found that floatation therapy was associated with increased slow-wave sleep, which is essential for physical and mental restoration.
Some people report feeling more creative or experiencing increased problem-solving abilities after a session in a sensory deprivation tank. While there isn't a lot of scientific research to back up these claims, some experts suggest that the lack of external stimuli can allow the brain to explore new ideas and make connections that may not have been possible while in a more distracted state.
Besides reducing anxiety, some individuals report feeling less stressed after a session.. The relaxation response induced by the tank may help lower cortisol levels, which can be elevated during periods of stress.
It is essential to note that sleep deprivation tanks should not replace traditional anxiety treatments such as therapy and medication. Instead, sleep deprivation tanks may be a complementary therapy to help manage anxiety symptoms. It's also important to note that while some people may find sensory deprivation tanks beneficial, they are not appropriate for everyone. People with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy or schizophrenia, may be at risk for adverse effects. Additionally, some people may feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable in the confined space of a sensory deprivation tank. As with any type of therapy, speaking with a healthcare professional before trying it is crucial.
Feinstein, J. S., Khalsa, S. S., Yeh, H., Al Zoubi, O., Arevian, A. C., Wohlrab, C., ... & Ospina, J. P. (2018). Examining the short-term anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of Floatation-REST. PloS one, 13(2), e0190292.
Kjellgren, A., Sundequist, U., Norlander, T., & Archer, T. (2001). Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain. Pain Research and Management, 6(4), 181-189.