Float Therapy for Beginners: What to Expect in a Sensory Deprivation Tank

When I first scheduled my float therapy and massage at Heal by Touch, I told my four year old that I was going to go lie in a salty bathtub to relax. If you’ve never tried (or heard of) float therapy, her response was probably a lot like yours – “uhhh. That’s weird.”

Let me just say – I LOVED IT.

Thanks to Heal by Touch – Massage and Float Therapy for sponsoring this post and hosting my experience. As always, opinions and story are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses who support this blog!

What Is Float Therapy?

So no, float therapy is not exactly like I explained to my preschooler. But, it is pretty straightforward!

Clients relax in a private suite containing a shower, changing area, and of course, a 7ft x 5ft therapy pool. The water is heated to 96℉ to match approximate body temperature and contains 1,400 pounds of epsom salt. The addition of salt enables the floater to experience weightlessness and to feel as if they were “floating through space.”

One hour of float therapy can equal up to 4 hours of R.E.M. sleep in its ability to help your body relax, heal, and recover. Pretty awesome, right?!

Float Therapy Benefits

So besides feeling amazingly relaxed and refreshed, float therapy can also:

  • reduce muscle tension and feelings of stress or anxiety
  • treat migraines and headaches
  • act as an anti-inflammatory for the whole body
  • improve sleep, insomnia, and jet lag

As a busy mom of two, being told to relax and float by myself sounded pretty magical.

My Relaxing Retreat at Heal by Touch

I was impressed with Heal by Touch’s facility as soon as I walked through the door. The lobby smells heavenly (I’m not sure how to describe it besides spa-like, but if that can be a scented oil fragrance, I guess that’s an accurate description 😊) and the soft music quickly put me at ease.

Heal by Touch is a holistic facility, not just “some massage place.” Their therapies help to heal your mind, body, and spirit. Owner, Ashley Tinker, explained to me that float therapy (also known as sensory deprivation therapy) fits perfectly with their mission because it suspends the senses of sight, sound, and touch simultaneously.

Simply by removing the effect of gravity and all other sensory stimulation, the psyche

starts the process of rapid stress release and deep relaxation.

Heal by Touch

Pre-Float Instructions

To get the most out of your float therapy session, Heal by Touch has put together a list of pre-float instructions. The receptionist will go over all instructions prior to your float and make sure you’re comfortable, but they’re also written down in case you can’t remember them all.

Here are a few you’ll want to know before you schedule your float therapy session:

  • Do not shave the day of your appointment.
    • seriously, don’t. The water is super salty and you won’t be able to relax if your shaving nicks are burning.
  • No spray tans or dyed hair 2 weeks prior to your scheduled appointment.
  • Provided: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, towel, wash cloth, shower shoes, robe
  • Optional to bring: deodorant, hairbrush, makeup, swimsuit

Part 1: Float Therapy

After being led to my private suite, I was instructed to take a shower to remove any lotion, makeup, etc. After putting in earplugs (keeps out any extra noise and salt water) and covering any cuts with a thin layer of vaseline, I stepped into the tub.

Float therapy private suite. Sensory deprivation tank.

Take a 360° tour of the float suites here.

I was surprised at how shallow the water was – only about to my mid-shin!

After sitting down, I slowly reclined and started to float. Soft music and starry lights marked the beginning of my session and lasted about 10 minutes.

In all honesty, I was a little concerned that I would feel claustrophobic or uneasy being in total silence and darkness. If that’s you, don’t worry, you have the option to keep the lights and/or music on throughout your session.

The darkness is real – like when you visit a cave at a national park. There is no light whatsoever. But because I had those first few minutes to adjust and settle in, it really didn’t bother me like I was afraid it would.

Each tank has a rack with these items available during the session – a clean washcloth, spray bottle of fresh water, and a head support. If I accidentally got water near my eyes, I would easily be able to reach the washcloth and spray bottle. Some people have a hard time relaxing their neck and find the support useful. I was surprised at how “supported” I felt without it and didn’t need to use it.

Let’s Float!

Someone once told me that the “corpse pose” in yoga is one of the most challenging (you know, the one where you lay perfectly still on your back) because people may clench their jaw, cock an eyebrow, or hold tension without realizing it. With that in mind, I visualized relaxing every part of my body from my head to my toes.

After the water had settled, I couldn’t tell if certain parts of my body were in or out of the water. It really did feel like I was totally suspended! I probably cheated myself out of some relaxation by wiggling my fingers and toes to see if they were out of the water or not, haha.

I found it very easy to relax my body…it’s my mind that I couldn’t turn off (duh, this is why I write, haha).

Towards the end of the session (I’m guessing because there’s no concept of time), I started to settle in and feel like I was on the verge of falling asleep. My scheduled session was for 30 minutes (recommended for beginners), but I think that 45 minutes would be my sweet spot.

When the lights and music returned, I knew my time had come to an end. It was a lovely way to “wake up,” similar to an ambient alarm clock. But truthfully, the time had flown so much that, at first, I thought it was a mistake and looked for a button to restart the tub!

Client enjoy a float therapy session at Heal by Touch

Float Brain

I carefully exited the tub and took another shower to remove the salt water. Wait, you want me to take not one, but TWO uninterrupted hot showers?! Ohhh ok, if I have to 😉. I wrapped myself in a plush robe, and awaited the next phase of my pampering.

After my float therapy session, I felt extremely refreshed, similar to waking up after a nap. It was almost a “spacey” sensation. When Ashley came in to get me, I’m sure I had a goofy smile on my face from feeling so relaxed.

Part 2: Therapeutic Massage

Massage is a more well-known form of therapy, and it definitely enhanced my experience. Ashley and her team are amazing! Ashley listened to my problem areas and applied the perfect amount of pressure to work out all of my tired mommy muscles.

client enjoying a therapeutic massage

Because I had come directly from a float therapy session and hot shower, I was already very loose and limber and able to enjoy my massage more than if I had just walked in. Plus the heated table felt extra luxurious!

All good things must come to an end, and once I had dressed, I was greeted with a cool cup of water and told to take my time coming back to the “real world.”

Frequently Asked Questions About Float Therapy

What is float therapy good for?

Benefits of float therapy include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety relief
  • Sports recovery
  • Pain relief
  • To promote relaxation
  • Reduce headaches
  • Increased circulation
  • For more restful sleep
  • To learn to meditate
  • For moms craving a little quiet time
  • In particular, magnesium is known to help balance calcium levels in the body, reduce stress, balance hormones, normalize blood pressure, reduce risk of cancer and other diseases and much more.

Ashley mentioned that several people who participate in Ironman competitions make float therapy a part of their training before and after each race.

Should I float before or after a massage?

Typically, clients are booked for a float first, followed by a massage. I’ve done it both ways.

Floating first can be a great way to settle in and quickly relax for your therapy session. The pre-shower helps to transition from the outside world to your private therapy suite. After floating, you are much more relaxed and limber to get the most out of your massage.

If you do get a massage first, just take extra care to shower off any remaining oil or lotion before entering the float tank.

I don’t think you could go “wrong” either way on this one.

How often should I float?

Technically, you could float every day (wouldn’t that be a dream come true!). The more often you float, the better your results will be. There is an accumulative effect – meaning each time you come, your mind and body respond more easily and more powerfully to the float, so relaxation is more immediate and much deeper. You are more familiar with the people, procedure, and environment… so you feel more relaxed
and comfortable to start with.

Research has found that 3 floats within a 10-21 day period produces by far the best initial results.

After my first float, I experienced many of the benefits above. But after the second, the sensation was improved and I do think it was because I was more comfortable and knew what to expect.

Who should not float?

Float tanks aren’t for everyone, but most can be accommodated. However, if you have uncontrolled epilepsy, drug or alcohol intoxication, infectious disease, open wounds and serious psychological conditions, consult your physician or therapist before engaging in float therapy.

You may also want to consult your physician if you are pregnant.

Do you wear a bathing suit in a float tank?

Haha yes, the question we all really wanted to know…it’s up to you. If you are more comfortable in a swimsuit, by all means, wear one. However, since the therapy suites are private at Heal by Touch, it really is not “necessary.”

Remember though that the water and air are specifically heated to match your body temperature and eliminate your sense of touch. Wearing a bathing suit may hinder the experience from that perspective.

Heal by Touch Massage & Float Therapy Specials

The best way to get the most out of your float is to combine it with a massage. They go together like peanut butter and jelly! Massage and float therapy compliment each other in such a way to quiet your mind, body, and spirit and leave you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed to the max.

If a float therapy session sounds as appealing to you as it did to me, you have to check out Heal by Touch! They are the only sensory deprivation facility within 100 miles, which is pretty impressive for our small town in central Florida.

Semi-Annual Combo Package

Every May and December (perfect for Mother’s Day and Christmas! hint hint), the team at Heal by Touch puts together package deals so you can try both! Last Christmas, they gave a huge discount and booked a 30 minute float with a 30 minute massage for only $40! That’s a crazy good deal and perfect for beginners.

The best way to watch out for these packages is to follow their Facebook page. Follow Heal by Touch with the button below.

50% off in March!

The timing of my visit could not be any better! For the month of March, Heal by Touch is offering float therapy sessions at an amazing discount of 50% off. They also have membership and first-visit discounts. March is the perfect time to schedule a float therapy session and experience it for yourself.

Make sure you check out their Facebook page to keep up with all updates and promotions.

Contact Heal by Touch

When you’re ready to book your session, contact Heal by Touch directly below:



2531 US Highway 27 South
Sebring, FL 33870

My afternoon at Heal by Touch left me feeling rejuvenated – like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Ashley and her team took such good care of me and made me feel comfortable from the moment I walked through the door.

As I was driving home, I felt calm, peaceful, and ready to get back to “mom mode.”

I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have about my float therapy session or experience at Heal by Touch. Feel free to reach out to me at kelcey@okiesunshine.com.

You may also enjoy these posts from Okie Sunshine:

To The Mom Struggling With Anxiety

3 Simple Phrases That Help Me Be A Better Mom

Clip In, Sweat It All Out: Spin Class Workout Series

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