Floatation originated in the 1950s as part of the scientific research of John C. Lilly M.D. who designed his own floatation environments to explore the effects of reduced stimulation on the brain.

The original premise was that by shutting down outside stimuli one could shut down brain function. However, the initial surprise was that the brain did not in fact shut down but instead became more open, creative and (some would say) more powerful without the need to process external stimuli.

This created a field of scientific study around the numerous effects and benefits reported which continues to this day and led to a refinement of the floatation tank design to what we have today.


Commercial Centres

It wasn’t until the late-1970s that the first commercial centres opened. Since then, interest has grown as studies have continued to reveal more benefits for body and mind and customers have had the opportunity to enjoy the unique experience of floatation for themselves. Now it’s your turn, Manchester! 

There are now annual global floatation conferences and new floatation centres opening all over the world with as many as 700 centres now worldwide as the need for mental and physical relaxation in our hectic modern lives grows ever more necessary.

With advances in technology, floatation tanks are now state of the art, sleek and spacious and at Float Level, we have the most advanced floatation pod available for you to enjoy: The I-Sopod.



Scientific Research

Scientifically referred to now as REST (Restricted Environment Stimulation Technique), the focus of floatation research shifted in the late 1970s to 

  • its therapeutic use for psychological and physiological ailments
  • its use to increase cognitive performance and creativity
  • its ability to elicit a uniquely deep relaxation response

This research has continued to this day with hundreds of articles and papers being published on the subject. 

Below are just a few examples of the summary findings of recent scientific research into a handful of areas:


Stress Management

(Subjects) participated in a total of twelve floatation REST sessions.

Results indicated that pain areas, stress, anxiety and depression decreased while sleep quality, optimism and prolactin increased. Positive effects were generally maintained four months after treatment.
— Bending and Mending the Neurosignature - Frameworks of Influence by Floatation-REST upon wellbeing in patients with stress-related disorders, Bood, S.A. 2007
The Subjective Stress Scale (Berkun et al., 1962) was administered before and after floating. This measure presents adjectives and adjectival phrases, of which the respondent chooses the one that best describes his or her emotions at a specified time.

There was a significant reduction in Subjective Stress: before M = 33, during M = 22, after M = 14 (Total 58% reduction). The level of stress after the float was therefore significantly lower than before.
— Water Immersion and Floatation: From Stress Experiment to Stress Treatment - Suedfeld, Ballard, Murphy, 1983

Sports Recovery

Floating can speed up the recovery process enormously. What normally takes a long period of time – days, usually to recover from a marathon – is compressed into a number of hours. You are giving your muscles total rest, they do not have to do anything. Then there are the biochemical changes: All those biochemical amines that rev you up are being decreased in an accelerated manner whilst floating, so you are speeding up your recovery from prolonged and vigorous effort. Floating offers a wonderful opportunity for the body to heal itself.”
— Dr. Mel Thrash, Improving Athletic Performance from The Book of Floating - Hutchison 1984
The participants completed 2 exercise and recovery protocols: a 1-hour flotation REST session and a 1-hour seated control (passive recovery). After isometric muscle strength testing, participants were fatigued with eccentric isokinetic muscle contractions of the nondominant knee extensors and flexors. Blood lactate, blood glucose, heart rate, OMNI-rating of perceived exertion for resistance exercise (OMNI-RPE), perceived pain, muscle soreness, and isometric strength were collected before exercise, after treatment, and 24 and 48 hours later.

The results indicate that flotation REST appears to have a significant impact on blood lactate and perceived pain compared with a 1-hour passive recovery session in untrained healthy men. Flotation REST may be used for recreational and professional athletes to help reduce blood lactate levels after eccentric exercise.
— The acute effects of flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique on recovery from maximal eccentric exercise - Morgan, Salacinski, Stults-Kolehmainen, 2013


The present study was designed to evaluate directly the potential contribution of floating to creativity enhancement as measured by the Guilford fluency test and other measures. Float subjects showed significant increases on the Guilford test from pre- to post-float and meaningful increases on other thinking measures as compared to non-floating control subjects. Floating was associated with a decrease in anxiety/tension, depression, hostility, and fatigue, but with an increase in vigor and a maintenance of curiosity scores, and it is speculated that the creativity benefits may be a result of these state changes.
— Creativity Enhancement Through Floatation Isolation - Forgays & Forgays. 1992

Pain Relief

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether the floating form of the restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) may be applied within the field of pain relief. The results indicated that the most severe perceived pain intensity was significantly reduced.

Flotation-REST treatment also elevated the participants’ optimism and reduced the degree of anxiety or depression; at nighttime, patients who underwent flotation fell asleep more easily. The present findings describe possible changes, for the better, in patients presenting with chronic pain complaints.
— Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain - Kjellgren, Sundequist, Norlander, Archer. 2001

General Wellbeing

Patients reported far more relief from anxiety and stress from flotation than any other modality. For depression, flotation was equal to counseling at near 70%, with relaxation training at 53% and physical therapy and medication at 20%. Patients also claimed to have reaped a variety of other benefits from flotation, reporting improvements in sleep (65%), mental concentration (77%), energy (46%), interpersonal relationships (54%), ability to work (35%), ability to cope with pain (88%), ability to cope with stress (92%), and feelings of well-being (65%) resulting from flotation REST.
— Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology - Fine and Borrie 1997

Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Floatation REST was consistently associated with improved Range of Motion and Grip Strength and decreased pain both within and across sessions in all subjects, with all but one subject reporting no pain post session in several instances. Subjects experiencing eight Floatation REST sessions subjectively reported pain relief for 24-48 hours after a given session.
— Effects of Floatation REST on Range of Motion, Grip Strength and Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis - Turner, DeLeon, Gibson, Fine 1993

Blood Pressure and Hypertension

The results of this experiment demonstrate reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure of a clinically significant magnitude occurring across treatment and fol- low-up sessions for all subjects. These results are particularly impressive considering that: (1) the REST relaxation program did not involve any daily practice of a relaxation exercise frequently utilized in other relaxation paradigms for blood-pressure reduction: and (2) (one of the subject’s) previous failure to maintain a lowered pressure after biofeedback-assisted relaxation training.
— The Effect of Brief Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy in the Treatment of Essential Hypertension - Turner and Fine, 1982

Sleep Disorders / Insomnia

The use of Floatation-REST has been compared to relaxation training in treating the stress-related disorder, primary psychophysiological insomnia. Sleep onset latency of 36 patients referred by a sleep disorder clinic was measured by subjective report and by an objective sleep assessment device. During the two weeks following a 2-week baseline measurement, subjects received four sessions of floatation-REST, autogenic training or a combination of the two over a 2-week period.

Three months after the end of the treatment, those who had floated showed statistically and clinically significant decreases in sleep latency by either subjective report or objective measure.
— Health and Therapeutic Applications of Chamber and Floatation REST - Suedfeld and Borrie, 1999


Floatation centres in 5 countries recruited 81 people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and donated 3 float sessions to each of them. In return the participants were asked to complete uniform questionnaires regarding their illness and their floatation experience. The data were collected and analysed to produce compelling evidence that Floatation REST can have a beneficial impact on Fibromyalgia.

Results demonstrated that Floatation REST provided significant temporary reductions in pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety and sadness, as well as significant increases in relaxation, feelings of wellbeing, energy and ease of movement. There was also significant improvement in the quality of sleep.
— The Effects of Floatation REST on the symptoms of Fibromyalgia - Schneider, Russell and Borrie, 2012


Have a look at The Float Level Blog for posts about the benefits of floatation and the research which has uncovered and proven these benefits.