How Flotation Therapy Affects the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Systems

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | November 5th, 2019

We know that flotation therapy provides a wide variety of benefits, both immediate and long lasting, to people all over the world . A dedicated float practice can affect every part of us, physically, mentally, emotionally – even spiritually.

Floatation Therapy Affects

So, what is it about the post-float glow that keeps us coming back? Why do we feel so great after an hour of nothing? Simply put, floating is the proven antidote to the stress-inducing overload of our modern times. Our systems are on sympathetic overload as technology races towards 2020. Floating can teach us how to naturally balance out using the parasympathetic response.

Understanding Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Systems


The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are two opposing parts of the autonomic nervous system. Without needing you to think about it, these systems regulate important bodily functions like breathing, digestion, your body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Our overactive sympathetic nervous system is the same system that allows animals (read: you), to react quickly to an imminent threat. When a lion approaches a wildebeest, the wildebeest’s brain floods with hormones to boost the body’s alertness. The heart rate escalates, pupils dilate and glucose is rapidly shot into the bloodstream for immediate energy. This is all so the animal can flee and escape, which is why it’s also called the fight-or-flight mechanism.

But, when the threat has passed, the opposing parasympathetic nervous system works to calm the body back down. Breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone flow returns to normal levels as the body settles into homeostasis. The two systems work together in this way to maintain optimal body function.

While the fight-or-flight response serves a purpose, you don’t want it switched on all the time. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t know the difference between an approaching lion and an approaching deadline at work. Our world today has more potential stress factors than ever and many of us are caught in sympathetic overload. When this system is out of balance we stop being able to digest our food correctly, lose sleep, and begin a downward spiral of physical and emotional challenges. The key to all of this is maintaining homeostasis. Floating has a unique way of helping, allowing us to escape the constant overthinking and crippling anxiety we feel when stress levels get too high. In the extremely relaxing float environment, our bodily systems are rebooted, and our minds are given a fresh opportunity to reach back towards homeostasis. The most recent studies are even showing that floating can help move the mind towards homeostasis in either direction!

Clinical Research on Floatation Therapy

Dr. Justin Feinstein, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, is conducting important research on floating’s effect on anxiety, depression, and PTSD. After the first clinical study of 50 patients with severe anxiety, he found, “We were 50 for 50 in terms of anxiety reduction. In the world of clinical research when it comes to psychiatric and psychological conditions, I have not seen something that works that reliably… and the more severe your anxiety the greater the decrease.” Feinstein is continuing his research into several hypotheses about the way floating may weaken the bond between cardiorespiratory sensations and anxiety over time, eventually retraining the cardiorespiratory response of anxiety to that of a response of peace, relaxation and tranquility. (

This research is critically important in our world today. The overstimulating buzz of our smart phones and their constant information feeds is leading to increased levels of anxiety, stress, tension, and loneliness. The global happiness index is on a decline as technology use rapidly increases. The float spas of today are true healing sanctuaries, where we can recover from high-stress environments and stimulus overload. We are committed to making that difference. We believe in the Science of Feeling Great.

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