How Float Therapy Can Improve Sleep
If, like our cell phones, our bodies just simply powered off abruptly when our batteries were depleted, we might take better care to ensure we weren’t running on empty. As it is, many of us are wandering through our lives functioning well below our optimal performance levels because we lack the “juice” that comes from being well rested.
The reality is that sleep deprivation is an epidemic worldwide. While experts recommend eight hours per night, Canadians average just 6.9 hours. What’s worse is the average number of hours that people sleep is declining each year and there seems to be a negative correlation between hours of sleep and cell phone use.
Even mild sleep deprivation can have negative impacts on an individual’s health. It can contribute to high blood pressure and poor cardiac health and can increase an individual’s likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes or suffering a stroke.
University students often “pull an all-nighter” convinced that they do their best work under pressure, but it turns out that Mom and Dad were right – being even slightly sleep deprived impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving.
If all of this isn’t enough to convince you to make getting more zzzz’s a priority, consider the fact that fatigue is to blame for many common accidents. Not having slept for 20 hours or more creates a level of impairment equal to being legally intoxicated. Too bad police aren’t able to dole out a DWE (driving while exhausted) to drivers who stayed up too late binge watching Netflix the night before.
While the prevalence of sleep deprivation is serious, the good news is that the sleep is free for the taking. And unlike lunges and planks, it actually feels good. It’s just a matter of making it a priority in our lives (and saving that next episode of Orange is the New Black for tomorrow night).
But for many people, getting good sleep is a challenge because they have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. For insomniacs, our brains are our worst enemies – just as we know we should be falling asleep, we find ourselves re-hashing a conversation with a co-worker or thinking about our to-do lists for tomorrow.
Float therapy can help with this because the warm salt water supporting our bodies and the silent, dark environment removes any distractions, making it so much easier to focus on the breath, to focus on the present. You might think of float therapy like training wheels for mindfulness. The more we float, the stronger our minds become, allowing us to focus on the present and not be distracted by stray thoughts. No more “monkey brain”, no more sleepless nights and groggy mornings. This is your brain on float therapy.
The best thing about float therapy is that the effects are long lasting. It’s not about the hour of rest you get while floating – it’s about the sense of centered calm that you carry with you for days. It’s also cumulative – the more you float, the more you get out of it. Frequent floaters are able to get into that “sweet spot” within minutes and to replicate some of this mindfulness outside of the float pod as well. Which can be very useful at 11 pm when you know you should be getting some shut-eye.