For most of us, stress is part of life. From the cars probably honking outside your window right now to the pressures of next week’s board meeting to the physical strain of your morning workout, each day brings myriad reasons for your brain to jack up the cortisol production.
But what if there was a way to…shut it all off?
Enter the world of Restricted Environment Stimulation Technique (REST) or float pods. Also called “sensory deprivation chambers,” these shallow pool pods and rooms have been popping up across the island as the hottest way to get away from it all.
Inspired by physician and neuropsychologist John C. Lilly’s research into isolation tanks in the 50s and 60s, modern day float tanks create a relaxing environment that removes all stimuli from the subject’s senses and effectively shutting off the brain’s “fight or flight” impulse. The result is an activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of deep relaxation.
Floating has been used to treat anything from muscle tension and high blood pressure to insomnia and anxiety. Some users even credit it with stimulating new parts of their brain—the almost meditative state induces theta brain waves, typically credited for increasing creativity.
Here’s how it works: After thoroughly showering, floaters enter either a float tank or pod (typically in the nude). The water is heated to almost the exact same temperature as skin and treated with extremely high levels of magnesium sulfate, or Epsom salts, to create a weightless environment. From there, users can opt to turn out the lights and float in an entirely stimulus-free environment. Don’t worry—you can also keep on the lights, leave the door open, or even play relaxing music of your choosing.
Most float sessions last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Afterward, floaters shower again and are then welcome to relax in rooms specially designed to ease the transition back into the real world, or they can simply head back to whatever is next on their schedule.
The sensory restriction of floating promotes a higher production of dopamine and reduces stress hormones like cortisol. The zero gravity effect reduces joint and muscle pain, increased blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. Even users who don’t report significant physical changes typically feel more relaxed than they did when they went in. The salts are also absorbed through the skin and aid in treating fatigue, inflammation and muscle tension.
Even better, floating comes with virtually no negative side effects, and almost anyone can try it. The only people who should take a pass are epileptics, anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and those with infections, diseases or open skin wounds. Additionally, many spas do not allow menstruating women to use the tanks.
Here are four Long Island float places made for de-stressing:
The Float Place, Patchogue & Deer Park
The Float Place in Patchogue or Deer Park features two float rooms and one float tank. The rooms are filled with 250 gallons of water and 1,400 pounds of Epsom salt for a completely buoyant environment. The tank is filled with 175 gallons of water and 900 pounds of salt—but don’t worry, at a spacious 4-by-8-feet, it’s anything but cramped. The Float Place divides the potential benefits of floating into three categories: salt benefits (including softening skin, expelling toxins and reducing soreness), zero-gravity benefits (reducing joint and muscle pain and increasing circulation), and sensory deprivation benefits (increasing creativity and reducing stress). After you float, hit up the post-float room to gently return to reality before heading back to real life. Patchogue Phone: 631-627-6161 | Address: 73 North Ocean Ave. | Deer Park Phone: 631-487-0424 | Address: 2005 Deer Park Ave. Suite 2 Click to float
iChill in Bellmore says stepping into their float tank is as simple as stepping into the bath—but with a lot more benefit. The magnesium-enriched water is perfectly heated to match the temperature of skin for minimal stimulus, and clients have the option of closing the tank for complete darkness and silence, or keeping the door open and playing relaxing music if they prefer. As deep relaxation sets in, the brain begins producing theta waves, similar to what happens during deep meditation or before falling asleep, and many users report an increase in creativity. Phone: 516-557-2020 | Address: 2782 Merrick Road Click to float
R.E.S.T. Float Spa, Rockville Centre
By minimizing stimuli, R.E.S.T. Float Spa in Rockville Centre says floating will reduce levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and free the skeletal system of gravity and aching joints. Like most floating spas, R.E.S.T. requires clients to shower before and after their float, so each tank and pod has its own private room with a rain spa shower for maximum comfort. And don’t worry about germs—the high concentration of Epsom salt prevents and microorganisms from growing and the pod is cleaned before each session with a water filtration and ultraviolet light sterilization process. Phone: 516-600-9301 | Address: 442 Sunrise Highway Click to float
Hope Floats, Williston Park
Hope Floats in Williston Park touts their floatation therapy as a luxurious way to heal the body from life’s stress by escaping all stimuli. Their tanks provide a treatment that promotes relaxation, eases arthritis, detoxifies your system and even helps to overcome addictions, phobias and depression. Clients typically float in 6-12 inches of sterile water for 60-90 minutes in a dark, peaceful environment completely isolated from light, sound and stress. Hope Floats especially recommends their services to athletes who can benefit not only from stress relief but also from the physical benefits of the weightless salt soak. Phone: 516-307-1560 | Address: 52 Hillside Ave. Click to float