Generally no…. most floaters do not experience negative side effects from floating. There are however, a few circumstances that might be uncomfortable. Although these situations are generally avoidable, here are some potential scenarios, and strategies to keep in mind to help you to get the most out of your float experience.
It’s common to hop in a float tank for the first time and wonder “Okay, now what?”. Although removing all outside stimulus is the point, having nothing to do can sometimes make us anxious or restless. This is okay! We don’t often get the opportunity to be bored and that can be very beneficial, even if, at times uncomfortable. Although you are able to hop out of the float tank at any time, we do encourage you to welcome the boredom and try to work through any initial feelings of restlessness.
Clearing your mind is never easy. Many frequent floaters find that even the most simple meditation techniques can help to calm and focus the mind while you’re settling in to your float session. These tools come in many different forms ranging from deep controlled breathing to visualization exercises. We recommend trying out different methods until you find the right one that works for you. And remember, it’s OKAY to be bored!!
Most floaters do not experience nausea while floating. This is an uncommon reaction that happens occasionally to those who are already prone to suffer from motion sickness. If you believe that you might be in this category there are a few things you can do to help minimize these symptoms.
Those with a severe sensitivity to motion, typically already have a go-to strategy and/ or medication to help mitigate the symptoms of nausea but there are inexpensive over the counter motion sickness medications that could be taken before a float session to ensure that this sensation won’t interfere with your float experience (as always, check with your health care professional first!).
Most reports of nausea happen during someone’s first float. This is typically because it is a new environment where you’re just getting acquainted with this new sense of buoyancy (remember, all of the tools your body uses to keep its place in the world are a minimized in the float tank: you’re floating, there’s less gravity pulling against you, your ears are under water, the lights may be off, maybe your moving around a bit and rippling the water surface, etc!). Once acclimated to the float experience, most people find they tend to stay more still (steadying yourself with a hand against the side or bottom of the float tank is a quick way to encourage your body, and the water surface to be still, if you notice you’re moving around a lot during your float), and even the most motion sensitive can have an enjoyable experience.
Please keep in mind that this is not a common occurrence and is manageable with the right medication or with more float experience. In the event that you do feel nauseous, we do keep some peppermint tea on hand to help settle the stomach post-float, so please let us know if this is something that you experience.
Burning and irritation
I think we are all familiar with what happens if you pour salt into a wound… so getting into a float tank filled with over a thousand pounds of epsom salt is not much different. You might find little nicks and scratches or irritated skin you didn’t even know existed. Even the smallest micro abrasions caused by shaving can cause some initial discomfort. The same goes for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis. While epsom salt can be incredibly beneficial in the healing process, this might be momentarily uncomfortable. Typically, the irritation experienced when first submerging into the salty solution is short lived and dissipates quickly but we also provide a&d ointment which can be applied to any areas of concern to act as a protective barrier from the salt water.
Very few, but some women have reported a vaginal burning sensation. This can be caused by a variety of reasons ranging from recently waxed (we recommend waiting 48 hours post wax before your float), recent sexual activity, the PH of your body chemistry (which changes throughout the menstrual cycle) or recently giving birth can make this area highly sensitive. Most women report this sensation to subside quickly. Our bodies are constantly changing, if you do experience discomfort, we encourage you to try floating again at a time where your body might be less sensitive to external environments as it is not often a consistent reaction.
We generally don’t recommend floating for people who have ear tubes. Although the earplugs are helpful in keeping salt water out of the ear cavity, they have the potential to leak, resulting in a very painful experience for someone with ear tubes. We have had a few guests with ear tubes float successfully by using an inflatable pillow (a secondary pillow option available on request) and being very careful to keep their ears completely out of the salt solution, though it can certainly be harder to relax into your float when you are hyper focused on keeping your ears dry. Ear tubes is the one exception to these uncomfortable situations that can’t always be successfully managed.
Although these situations are uncommon, removing all other sensory stimulus can amplify discomforts. We encourage floaters to use breath exercises or meditation strategies to help settle into your float, as most people find this helpful in managing these sensations.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with more specific questions or concerns. We’re here to help facilitate your best float experiences!