Can Floating Improve Digestion?
Floating or sensory deprivation is not new, in fact it has been around since the 1950’s and was developed by a neuroscientist John Lilly, MD. The goal was to get the brain into a deeply relaxed state, the state right before you fall deeply asleep. Think of it like the most effective form of meditation you can do, because the only distraction is the beating of your own heart. Why do I love floating? It is great for the digestive system and disrupting the stress cycle that never lets our digestion heal.
Stress and Digestion
Finding an effective way to manage stress is just as important as the foods we eat and the supplements we take. When we are under constant stress, our bodies are always accessing the sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight mode. In this state our adrenaline is pumping, our adrenals are releasing cortisol and sensations are heightened. I also like to call this the get shit done state. The problem is you can’t stay in this state for long periods, however, our current lifestyle creates a constant state of fight or flight. We are never shutting down into our rest and digest phase or accessing the parasympathetic nervous system. This is not only bad for our waistline, it is terrible for our digestion. Constant stress impacts motility, the amount of digestive enzymes our body makes and the permeability of our intestinal lining, all detrimental for healthy digestion.
Have you ever traveled and felt like your digestive symptoms go away? Did you ever think about the type of stress you are under when you are traveling? I bet it is not as much as your day to day life and guess what, as a result, better digestion. Also you are eating different types of food which can impact digestion, that is a topic for a different day!
How does Floating Help?
In this day and age, we have to find a way to disrupt the stress cycle or the constant churning of our fight or flight state, especially for those of us who are suffering from digestive issues. Floating provides a solution for some of the following:
•The water you float in is loaded with epsom salt which contains magnesium. Magnesium can penetrate your skin and calm your muscles and can also help ease digestive issues, especially constipation.
•Gets your brain more quickly into a theta brain wave, which is the state you are in right before sleep. In this state your brain is receptive to new information (this has been used in Navy Seal training to enhance memory and retention of new information and language)
•Can be a part of the treatment plan for anxiety, depression and PTSD by helping to decrease cortisol and adrenaline, therefor decrease stimulation to the hypothalamus.
•Improves muscle recovery by moving lactate out of the body more effectively. This creates less pain and allows you to bounce back from a workout more quickly.
What happens in a float tank?
There really isn’t much to it. You take your clothes off, rinse your body, and step into a pod or a small, enclosed pool, lay down and your body is supported by all the salt in the water. You push a button and the lights go out. The only thing you have to do is relax and let go. It can be scary at first. I held onto the light switch for dear life and thought if I let go I would float away into the abyss. But you get use to it, less afraid and eventually I let go. The air
temperature in your float tank is the same as your body temperature along with the temperature of the water. After a few minutes you can’t tell where the water starts and your body ends. Its like you are floating in space with nothing touching you and all you can hear is the beating of your heart. Everyone once in awhile you can hear your stomach churning or your muscles relaxing.
Floating is a very special experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to disconnect and do some serious relaxing. Some side effects include feeling more relaxed, a better nights sleep, decrease in muscle soreness and an improvement in digestive imbalances. Sound good? Give it a try!