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Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is well known for its deep relaxation benefits on the body and mind. Float therapy reduces stress, improves sleep, treats anxiety and depression, relieves pain in joints, muscles, etc. Less is known about the impact of a session on creativity. Being out of time and space in a float tank has immediate consequences for creativity and ingenuity. And this creative state of mind is not reserved only for artists.


The float tank was invented by a neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Lilly, to study the behaviour of the brain when it has no external stimuli. As the first guinea pig of his uncomfortable machine at the time, he emphasised a state of relaxation close to deep meditation.

A few years later, scientists would prove him right.

Since his time, float rooms have changed a lot. Spacious, with optimal sound and visual insulation, and with water at the ideal temperature, concentrated with Epsom salt, the pod allows the senses to be truly hidden. And above all that of touch: the body is not only in a state of real weightlessness, but the person inside does not even feel the water on his skin.

In a few minutes, the state of sensory isolation creates total relaxation, the ease of use makes it an ideal device to study our brain.


Brain waves, cortisol and dopamine

When active, the brain has a measurable electrical frequency. Beta brainwaves symbolise action, alertness. We are constantly analysing the world around us, the noises and other sensory alerts, we think, we think, we make decisions. When the beta brain rhythm is high, the person is in a state of disorder, anxiety, stress.

During a float session in a sensory deprivation tank, all these stimuli disappear, the world of action is far away, the sensors of the senses are asleep… The rhythm of the cerebral activity changes to a rather low frequency: theta waves.

They are found in the encephalograms of people who have been trained in meditation for a long time, such as Buddhist monks. But also in people in a state of hypnosis. They are much more present in the daily lives of young children to promote learning.

This is not only the brain rhythm of deep relaxation, but also of the famous mindfulness meditation. The theta rhythm is also the rhythm of the slow wave sleep phase, of daydreaming, as well as of creativity, learning and deep emotions.

Floating for a few tens of minutes leads easily and smoothly to this particular state of the brain. There is no need to retreat to the farthest reaches of Tibet or to find a good hypnotist.

At the same time, there is a significant drop in cortisol in the body: a hormone linked to adrenaline and stress.

Instead, your body will release dopamine and endorphins. This cocktail of ‘happy hormones’ is also conducive to creativity.

People who come to float in our centres find themselves in such a space of safety, tranquillity and relaxation that, detached from the outside, they focus on their inner, subconscious self. And find new sources of inspiration, new ways of approaching a problem, in short, unfettered creativity. But also a new self-confidence, the basis for inventiveness.

Active float for artists… and others

Lilly, the father of sensory isolation tanks, had the first ‘comfortable’ versions tested by a particular audience who were keen on new experiences. Artists and intellectuals are part of his environment, we are in the middle of the American ‘cultural revolution’. And if athletes contribute a lot to its publicity, artists and musicians seem to enjoy it.

So much so that a researcher, for an experiment on floating and creativity, took jazz musicians as guinea pigs.

Robin Williams, Peter Gabriel and John Lennon, for example, are on the list of float therapy users.

However, artists are not the only ones who are creative: we all are a little bit, almost every day.

In our daily lives, we have to make choices, analyse a situation and solve it, etc.

Of course, some people are more dependent on creative processes: researchers, scientists, business leaders, journalists, restaurant chefs looking for new tastes, etc. Finally, creativity can be found at any time.

And while it is difficult to ‘test’ creativity, some researchers wanted to know more.

Studies have been conducted at the University of British Columbia and the University of Vermont on the impact of flotation on the search for new ideas in “simple” office work. Both studies showed that the “floaters” group had more original, effective and creative solutions than the others.

Another well-known experiment is that of a group of researchers around Dr Norlander. Its test includes many well-defined questions: verbal logic, visual puzzles, basic questionnaires, brainstorming, etc. Result: there is a real link between floating and the originality of the answers. In contrast, the float group performed less well on the visual logic tests.

In addition to the benefits for chronic pain and general well-being, regular float sessions in sensory deprivation have effects on :

– mental clarity,

– concentration,

– motivation,

– the ability to learn, to reason,

– the synchronisation of the right (creative) and left (analytical) lobes of the brain.

In addition, its positive impact on sleep is also proven. The impact of fatigue on cognitive performance is also known.

Whether you come to float just for a moment of relaxation or to treat physical or mental illness syndromes, float therapy energises your brain.

As engineer G. Perry, the first to develop personal chambers, said (see our page History of sensory deprivation float) : « My senses were heightened. (…) It was fantastic, I felt in an incredible state. »

So are you ready for an effortless journey into creation?

Make an appointment now in one of our centres in Bordeaux or Lyon for a first discovery session!