There is a new term to describe the different lifestyle and health improvement methods that have started gaining popularity in the era of internet connectivity and social media. The word is “Biohack”. With the increasing use of wearable technology that lets you monitor your body’s health parameters in real time and the growing scientific research on diet and health, people have started advocating the new and unusual ways to lead a healthy life.
Sensory deprivation tanks are one such biohack that has gained popularity in the last 6-7 years.
What are sensory deprivation/isolation tanks?
Sensory deprivation tanks or Isolation tanks are designed with an intention to cut off all sensory inputs to an individual. The intention is to induce a state of deep relaxation and meditation of the brain.
While experiencing a Sensory deprivation tank, an individual gets into a tank full of room-temperature water infused with Epsom salt that keeps him or her afloat. There are earplugs and the room is sound-proof which cuts off all external noise.
Lights are switched off to cut off all visual cues. Floating on water with no signals from the external environment, individuals are forced to confront their own thoughts and consciousness. A typical session lasts anywhere from between one hour to one hour thirty minutes.
How did it start?
As unbelievable as it sounds, Sensory deprivation tanks have been around since the 1950s when scientists and psychologists started experimenting with the state of the human brain devoid of any sensory inputs. But that was the also the time when sensory deprivation earned a bad name since the results of the experiments were not very positive.
It was in the 1970s that Dr Suedfeld and later Dr Borrie conducted another round of experiments that led to the discovery of the positive side of Sensory deprivation like lowering blood pressure, hypertension, chronic pain etc. through a state of deep relaxation of mind and body. In fact, a new term REST- Restrictive Environmental Stimulation Therapy- was also coined to replace the negative sounding term of Sensory Deprivation.
Does the experience in a sensory deprivation tank help?
There are mixed reviews around the benefits of Sensory Deprivation therapy. There are those who claim to have achieved a deep sense of calm and relaxation from it. Others have had life-altering visions and insights while lying in the tank. There are people who have got relief from chronic pain and lowered hypertension or blood pressure. Such people swear by the benefits of Sensory Deprivation therapy and undergo it regularly.
Then there are the people who have found the experience not worth the hype. At best, such people have reported only a temporary fall in blood pressure and hypertensions symptoms and at worst they have reported no change whatsoever.
Whatever the outcome, it deserves a try since it really depends on the individual on how they experience Sensory Deprivation. At least it will allow you to cut off from the distractions and busy environment of your life and force you to relax.