It’s a common question, something that sparks anxiety for an experience that’s otherwise supposed to be meditative and calming. Can you sleep overnight in a float tank? What happens if you fall asleep? Is it possible to sleep too long in a float tank? What are all the possible side effects?
Whether you’re new to floating or a long-time floater, there’s really nothing to fear. Yes, it’s possible to fall asleep in a float tank, but it doesn’t happen as often as people think. You might nod off now and again as your brain enters into a state of hypnagogia (the interesting state between wakefulness and sleep). This “lucid consciousness” you enter into while in a float tank can cross the line between being awake or dreaming, but is part of the meditative substance and attraction of float tanks.
What Is A Float Tank?
Float tanks are pods that contain up to a half-ton of Epsom salts, allowing your body to float effortlessly in a natural environment. By matching the temperature of your skin and the air, float tanks give you the feeling of complete weightlessness. Oftentimes float tanks will also be silent and pitch black, but you can also keep the lights on and listen to music.
By freeing you from sensory input, float tanks relax the muscular-skeletal system and the sympathetic nervous system to provide a deep sense of serenity. This deep relaxation helps heal the mind and body while replenishing nutrients lost from stress and lack of sleep.
The average float lasts for about an hour, with some music at the beginning to help you relax. You can request music for the entire experience, and you also have control over opening or closing the pod as well as turning the interior light on/off. Most places also use music to signal the end of your float.
Most float tank centers feature pod rooms with private showers and complimentary toiletries. The chief component of a float tank session is relaxation, and that includes both the beginning and end of your float. Reflection, mindfulness, and ease are all a part of the float experience.
Float Tanks and Sleep
Float tanks present an extremely meditative environment, and the natural want of your body is to seek sleep. Many floaters use tanks as a way to explore consciousness, with everyone from artists to insomniacs seeking relief from their waking minds. Floating causes your brain to operate at a lower frequency, where it produces the theta waves it needs to create a heightened sense of presentness. The creativity and problem-solving that naturally comes to the forefront through floating isn’t always active, and your sleeping mind and waking mind are not combatants toward one another.
This state between waking and sleeping is the threshold of consciousness, a boundary between conscious and unconscious states. You may fall asleep in your float tank, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even if you dip in and out of wakefulness, your mind might be trying to reach a natural equilibrium of meditative states.
These questions are common and welcome. If you’re new to floating, of course, you’re wondering about how you’re supposed to handle the experience, and what you personally bring versus what the float tank brings to you. Some people might even ask if sleeping is “wasting” their session—this couldn’t be farther from the truth. No float session is a waste, and there is always something your mind and body glean from the experience. Floating provides transcendent physical and mental benefits and requires no conscious input for function. Stay awake, meditate, and even nap; you never know how the experience will affect you overall.
The Benefits Of Floating
Because the salt water is so naturally buoyant, the muscles in your body will relax toward their natural state. This relieves any tension and muscle tightness you’ve been building up because of home life, work life, stress, etc. This experience is extremely difficult to recreate under any other condition, and this “zero gravity” effect on your muscles helps them reach an uncommon equilibrium.
As your muscles relax and you enter a state of pure meditation, your skin absorbs the benefits of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate is essential for more than 300 different chemical reactions in your body—everything from regulating your heartbeat to dissipating lactic acid to strengthening your bones, hair, and nails. Whether or not you’re awake in the tank, these beneficial effects will take place. It’s impossible for your floating session to be a waste even if you fall asleep because your body is absorbing all of this helpful goodness.
Is It Unsafe To Fall Asleep In The Float Tank?
Not at all. New floaters might worry about potential risks and have safety concerns, but each floating tank is only filled with one foot of water—it’s not so different from a bathtub. With the half-ton of Epsom salts dissolved in the tank, your body is so buoyant that you don’t have to worry about falling in or tipping over. Also, all tanks are built to be safe. You can sit up and nudge the door, as all float tank tech is designed for safety first. You can always elect to leave the tank if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
Floating in the tank is not only possible, but it’s safe and encouraged. So what happens if you sleep overnight in a float tank? If a float tank is so great and healthy, shouldn’t we ditch our beds and all adopt float tank lives? There must be mental and bodily benefits to sleeping for six hours if there’s a benefit to sleeping for one.
Yes, all-night floats have benefits—but regardless of these benefits, sleeping in a float tank doesn’t contain all the benefits of a natural sleep cycle. Regular floaters will tell you that they feel properly energized after a float and that their bodies might need to wind down and relax even after their meditative session. While floats do promote more regular sleeping patterns and can even help with insomnia, they work best in conjunction with natural sleep and not as a replacement for it.
Floating and sleeping are sides of a coin. One helps the other, and this state of meditative consciousness and low-frequency relaxation can help your body naturally repair itself over time. Even if you fall asleep during a float, remember that you’re entirely safe and not wasting your session. Your body is still absorbing all that goodness, and your mind is reaching for exactly the thing that it needs. Floating can improve your quality of sleep, and your quality of life, and lead you toward more holistic wellness.