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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Stepping Away from Sensory Deprivation: An Analysis of Floatation-REST Research


Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulus Technique/Therapy), more commonly known as sensory deprivation, is a technique for relaxation and stress reduction that is quickly growing more popular due to the many benefits it seems to provide for its participants. Floatation-REST is a mild form of sensory deprivation/isolation in which the participant floats in a tank of saltwater (magnesium sulfate) which has been heated to skin temperature (35.5-36℃). The buoyant saltwater allows the participant to relax in a supine position, and they experience complete darkness and silence within the tank. Many studies have shown this technique to be beneficial in treating ailments such as anxiety, chronic pain, and other conditions associated with stress and muscle tension. However, Floatation-REST has much stigma surrounding it due to the negative histories associated with the term ‘sensory deprivation’, and many of those who experience anxieties that could be helped by Floatation-REST are put off by the idea of it and experience anxiety about the idea of the technique itself. It is necessary to de-stigmatize Floatation-REST and for it to be presented as a more accessible, viable option for those with severe anxieties, chronic pain, and other conditions which could benefit from this technique.

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