If you feel anxious, stressed, or have trouble sleeping, then you may want to consider sensory deprivation therapy. This therapeutic technique might support your overall health in a variety of ways – all simply by sitting or floating in a dark room.
The list of possible benefits and the processes are explained below. Check it out to see how sensory deprivation may help you.
What Is Sensory Deprivation?
The world is full of stimulation. Cell phones ding. Computer screens shine bright. TVs blare. It’s no wonder that your mind and senses might need a little break.
That’s where sensory deprivation therapy comes in. It insulates participants from external stimuli by placing them in chambers or rooms without any light or noise.
This pause from constant processing can give your brain and body a chance to reboot. Participants in one study reported that the effects of isolation supported mood, and helped them improve their sleep and anxiety.1
How Does Sensory Deprivation Therapy Work?
Sensory deprivation chambers block out lights, sounds, and images for extended periods of time in two ways:
Chamber Sensory Deprivation – Here you lie on a bed or flat surface in an unlit room without any sensory input. The duration can last anywhere from one to four hours.
Floatation Sensory Deprivation – This involves floating in a shallow pool of water filled with Epsom salt. The salt makes floating effortless, so your body and muscles can relax.
Additionally, the chamber is unlit and noiseless for total sensory deprivation. It’s sort of like meditation, except you don’t have to worry about phones ringing while you try to relax and unfocus.
The Added Benefits Of Weightlessness
A float experience might enhance your mental health and physical rejuvenation. This proved true for a study conducted on both men and women who suffered from stress-related strains and discomfort. Floating in saltwater helped lower their discomfort, stress, and anxiety levels.2
What Might Sensory Deprivation Help With?
Studies suggest that chamber and float sensory deprivation therapy can provide potential benefits. Here are a few things sensory deprivation may help with:
Anxiety And Stress
Sensory deprivation may be an efficient way to limit and reduce stress and anxiety. That’s good news for anyone who can’t take a beach vacation every time they need to unwind.
Instead, an hour or so in a sensory deprivation chamber may be all the downtime your senses need to leave you feeling fully restored.
Scientists found that participants who did one hour of float therapy reported feeling decreased levels of anxiety and stress.3
This could be because float therapy may reduce the production of cortisol, a hormone directly related to stress levels.4
Mindfulness And Creativity
Have you ever had one of those “aha” moments in the shower? That kind of inspiration and creativity can also come from the peace and quiet of a sensory deprivation chamber.
People who float in sensory deprivation chambers demonstrate higher scores on the Guilford test (a creativity test) after floating. This is likely attributed to their decreased anxiety and increased vigor.5
It turns out that taking a little break from gravity may help ease certain muscle discomfort. One study found that participants with severe back and neck pain noticed decreased levels of discomfort after floating in sensory deprivation chambers.6
Increased relaxation and decreased discomfort from muscle pain may support restful sleep as well. Participants who suffered from sleep deprivation showed an overall increase in sleep quality after float therapy.7
Participants also fell asleep faster for longer periods of time after floating in sensory deprivation chambers.8
Is Sensory Deprivation Right For Me?
This is a new and very unique type of therapy. As such, it may not be a viable option for everyone. Be sure to get approval from your doctor before giving sensory deprivation a try.
A study reported that some subjects experienced hallucinations during sensory deprivation.9 However, these visual hallucinations occurred only during very short periods of sensory deprivation and with people who had a history of hallucinating.
Still, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before participating in any new therapy.
Sensory Deprivation Therapy – An Exciting New Frontier
The novelty and continued evolution of sensory deprivation therapy keeps this treatment on the fringe for now. However, in a short amount of time, it has shown to help many people with feelings of stress and anxiety.10
The world is a busy and noisy place for the senses. Fortunately, it’s really easy to give them a break in a sensory deprivation chamber. It takes very little effort. Seriously. All you need to do is lie down and relax. This tiny break from thought and stimulation can go a long way to help you relax and feel better. It’s not that often that you can gain so much by doing so little.
And again, always consult with your doctor before receiving any new treatments, including sensory deprivation therapy.