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DrasticDreamer's avatar

Sensory Deprivation Tank experience?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23983points) November 7th, 2014

Is there anyone here who has used a sensory deprivation tank? I was thinking it might be a potentially great experience for me, due to the rib injury I have. Even the idea of weightlessness gets me excited, because my rib hasn’t felt normal for even a day, in at least three years.

I’m also pretty darn depressed right now but I’m having massive reservations about seeing a therapist (I know it can be very beneficial, please, no lectures), and I thought that a sensory deprivation tank might be calming and at least somewhat therapeutic.

So, if anyone here has experience in this area, I would love to hear what you have to say.

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11 Answers

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dabbler's avatar

For the depression, I’ll observe that the benefits of sensory-deprivation are approximately the same as for more common forms of meditation.
Even if you go for the float, I suspect you will get a lot more out of it with some meditation practice ahead of it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dabbler Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Even if it only directly helps my ribs feel better, that would also probably help with my depression at least somewhat, since my constant pain is definitely a contributing factor to my depression.

I knew it was a long shot, but that’s why I was hoping some people on here might have personal stories they could share with me. I’m not really expecting it to fix all of my problems, just hoping that it might help, even if it’s only for a while.

JLeslie's avatar

Why not just go swimming? You can float, relax, and it wouldn’t be so confining. I guess if it is difficult to find a pool with hours that have very few people in it it might not work for you. A bunch if kids doing laps for swim team won’t be relaxing.

If you get a water aerobics belt you can put it on your waist and just hang in the water suspended.

I don’t know how much the sensory deprivation costs. If it is the same as a gym membership that has a pool the gym might be money better spent. Try a yoga class, Zumba, water aerobics. My old gym I could go in a back room midday and basically be alone. Late morning the pool usually had only one or two people in it.

You can certainly try it once and see how it goes.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@JLeslie The buoyancy in sensory deprivation tanks can’t be matched, and the water is supposed to be almost exactly the same temperature as your body, so it doesn’t even feel like you’re in liquid. The idea behind it is to disconnect you from everything, so it’s just your consciousness. It’s supposed to be like meditation, but in a way that removes every distraction possible.I know it might be hyped up, but on the off chance, I wanna give it a shot.

However, swimming is a good idea and it’s something that I’m also going to look into. I think swimming would be a really good way to gently build my injured muscles back up, so that I (hopefully) don’t keep tearing the scars too badly.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer What are the negatives of sensory deprivation that would make you reluctant to try it?

About the swimming. Water temperature does matter. In any pool if you are comfortable in the water you will not feel the water if you are very still. It’s weird. You don’t have to be completely submerged. It happens to me if I am up to my neck in water and I have my head out to breath.

If you check out a few indoor pool places 84” is a good pool temp usually to not be shocked when getting in the water. Some pools are kept at 82” which still is ok, but usually cold at first and might be too cold for your goal. Once in a while pools are maintained at 86 degrees. Usually in places that are for older people. You can ask the front desk or the people who give you a tour what temp they maintain the pool at.

I don’t know your exact injuries. Most of the time the water is helpful. Once in a while movement in the water aggravates an injury. Joint pain is usually helped. Joint pain from injuries like overextending might feel bad in the water, because the water causes a drag. Switching movements quickly from side to side might aggravate it. It will give you weightlessness if you just want to be in the water without worry of swimming or exercising.

I wear a swim shirt, it’s called a rash guard, to stay warm in the water. It’s basically made from bathing suit material.

Do you live in a sunny place? I feel like a few weeks in the sun would be helpful to you. Not just the vitamin D, but a place to rest and remove some stress. I guess no matter where you live the weather just moved out of summer and you would know if it’s helpful. That is if you were able to rest and if you actually spent some time in the sun. Sun has some negatives too of course.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@JLeslie The only reason I’m hesitant to try a sensory deprivation tank is because of the cost. However, I was looking into local areas that have the tanks and one of the encourages you to stay in as long as you want if no one is booked after you, so I thought that was pretty cool. Other than price, I have no hesitation trying it. Accept that some people do say it can be rather odd, depending on where your mind takes you – but I can’t imagine it being much different that deep meditation. From all of the reading I’ve been doing, people seem to love the tanks, even more so than massage, and tons of people use them when they’re feeling stressed. I think I’ll probably try it at least once, just to see what the hype is about.

And no, it’s mostly only sunny where I live for three months of the year. Otherwise, we’re known (Pacific Northwest) for being dark any rainy all the time. Probably why I’m so deficient in D to begin with.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I kind of remember now you had a Q about vitamin D. Or, it came up in a Q. Can you take a sunshine vacation? Is your D level up above 40 now?

I actually think I would like the sensory deprivation tank, so I’m not negative about it. I assume I would like it because I love being in the water and I am pretty good at shutting off my mind. Where I live now it’s hard to find a pool over 5 feet deep. I think there is something to not being able to touch the bottom, I assume those tanks are over 6 feet deep.

Massage is difficult for me, because if they push too hard it hurts since my muscles tend to be sensitive. Plus, you aren’t alone, it’s a different experience. My gym has a water message machine in a semi-private area. That’s kind of neat for ten minutes. I don’t let it go on my head mainly because of the noise.

How much does the sensory deprivation cost more or less? How long does a session usually last?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@JLeslie I haven’t had my D levels checked again yet, which is dumb and something that I need to get on top of. I really hope the levels are up now.

Actually, you’d be surprised to know that most sensory deprivation tanks don’t usually have more than 10½ inches of water in them! :) I know it seems crazy, but there’s so much salt and extreme floating going on that you can’t tell, at all, how shallow the water is. They’re usually pitch black inside (again, completely sensory deprivation is the point), but some of the newer models of tanks have dim lighting as an option.

As far as I can tell, the price can vary anywhere from $50 for 90 minutes, to $65—$70 for 60 minutes, but it probably depends on where you live. There’s a place I found in my city that offers $50 for 90 minutes, but encourages people to stay in the tanks as long as they want if no other clients are booked after you, which I thought was pretty cool. 90 minutes seems to be the average length of a session, but a lot of places offer varying lengths.

JLeslie's avatar


dabbler's avatar

Early isolation tanks were developed for LSD research. I think I’ve seen descriptions in “Electric Koolaid Acid Test” and in some book by Timothy Leary.
They aren’t very deep, as one’s expected to be floating lying prone as still and relaxed as possible. In their research their tanks were made for a couple dozen hours’ usage (including provisions for excrement…).

In general, most tanks aren’t designed for more than a couple hours use, which is plenty for most users.

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