Floatation tanks are a special type Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), invented by John C Lilly in the 1960’s. From his experiments, Lilly determined that such external stimuli as gravity, light, sound and touch accounted for 90% of the central nervous system’s workload. He found that implementing Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy lowered stress levels.

From the article on Sensory Deprivation, from the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine:

Without environmental stimuli to process, the central nervous system’s level of activity drops dramatically, and provides an unparalleled level of relaxation. The elimination of the affects of gravity on the body allows the muscles and joints to release tension and heal more rapidly. Freed of the stimuli, the brain begins working more efficiently. This change provides the floater with an accelerated ability to learn, process information, and use his or her creative mind.

An added benefit of Floating stems from the use of Epsom Salts. (According to the Archangel Vitamin, Health, and Nutritional Center’s Health Newsletter, “Epsom Salt draws toxins from the body and sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles and is natural emollient (an exfoliative).”

With the reduction in stimuli, there is a transition to the theta brainwave, which typically occurs right before sleep. Says Wikipedia: “Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enchanced creativity and problem -solving or for superlearning. The more often the tank is used the longer the theta period becomes.”

Positive findings have been found from many studies and have led to floataion tanks being used all over the world. Not only in medical and health care programs, but in a wide range of fields. The Australian Sports Commision recommends Floating to their athletes to reduce stress and prevent burnout. For business people they use it as a tool for problem solving and goal setting.