below is an article published in the Detroit Free Press on January 4th about Flotation Tanks in which I was interviewed and quoted.
(or you can read below)
It looks like a pod and holds 144 gallons of water permeated by 900 pounds of Epsom salt. Step inside, close the hatch and lie down. You're in the dark, defying gravity as you float in a foot of water. Your thoughts are your only company.
This is flotation, and proponents say it helps with stress, sleep disorders, chronic pain and muscle soreness. It's easier than meditation, they say, and it doesn't have the side effects of drugs. An hour-long float costs about $65-$70, although packages can lower the price of an individual session.
Growing numbers of Americans are discovering flotation's benefits. The largest U.S. manufacturer of flotation tanks — Indianapolis-based Royal Spa Manufacturing — built 75 in 2012, its first year, and is now up to almost 800 annually.
One fan is Patricia Scott, a retired schoolteacher turned life coach from West Bloomfield. Scott, who suffers from insomnia, tried flotation at the NeuroFitness Center in Southfield, one of three places in Michigan that has flotation tanks, after a friend recommended it.
During the hour-long session, she let the salty water support her body and coat her skin. She hovered between sleep and wakefulness. And she relaxed. Really relaxed.
Afterward, she was hooked.
David McCullar, owner of NeuroFitness Center in Southfield, added a flotation tank after sessions at Great Lakes Flotation in the Flint area.(Photo: Romain Blanquart, Detroit Free Press)
"It's not a natural thing to lay back and trust," she said. "But once you do it, it's amazing. It truly feels like nothing."
After a session, Scott said she sleeps better, and the benefits appear cumulative, lasting longer the more she floats. Her sleep is now deeper for up to a week after a float.
Proponents of floating say some of the benefits come from the magnesium in the Epsom salt, while other benefits come from floating in the soundproof tank.
In addition to NeuroFitness, which has one tank, Great Lakes Flotation in the Flint area, with two tanks, and Delta Floats outside Lansing, with three tanks, also offer flotation.
Bob Dapper, owner of Royal Spa Manufacturing, said most of his company's tanks are sold to float tank operators — at a cost of $22,500 each. Some go to chiropractors and a few to private homes. One buyer was a couple in Florida who installed the tank in the living room of their apartment to help the husband, who suffered from chronic pain.
Dapper said bacteria and other icky things cannot grow in the float tank because the buoyancy of the water pushes everything to the surface. Plus, the tanks are equipped with skimmers and purified with ozone and ultraviolet light. Some owners also may use chlorine.
"It's impossible to get a cootie from a float tank," said Dapper, whose company also manufactures hot tubs, saunas, spa pools and baptismal tanks for U.S. military chaplains.
Patricia Scott of West Bloomfield uses a flotation tank for insomnia.(Photo: Romain Blanquart, Detroit Free Press)
Dapper, who has a tank at his home, said he is convinced the high concentration of Epsom salt, which is absorbed by the skin, "gives your body the nutrients to do maintenance on your nervous system. ... It is recharging your batteries."
"Your nervous system gets frayed by overuse and tension and anxiety, and this product puts you in a position to restore your frazzled nervous system. It allows to you repair your wiring," Dapper said. "If you're able to sleep better, great. If you work through the stresses plaguing you, super. But you cannot promise that. Everyone has a different experience in a float tank. It allows you to open yourself to calmness and relaxation."
Dr. David Grimshaw, an Okemos physician who treats patients with chronic illnesses, arthritis, lupus and head and other injuries, said he checked out flotation after a patient who had been severely injured falling off a horse made a remarkable recovery and attributed it to floating.
"She not only got better, but ended up a lot healthier than I ever imagined," Grimshaw said. He now recommends floating to certain patients, those "who are looking for healing in a bigger way. ... I think about it as helping people along who are trying to do a lot themselves to improve their health and I've gotten some great feedback from the folks I've sent."
Polly Baker, a Fenton physical therapist, also has recommended flotation, especially for patients who have been in car accidents. She said it helps them deal with the trauma of the accident "so they can better handle the rehabilitation process for their injuries."
"If I can calm their nervous system, they can handle pain better," said Baker, who has done flotation herself for deeper relaxation. "You end up getting in a meditative state. It helps you get in touch with a calmer state."
David McCullar, owner of NeuroFitness, said he decided to get a float tank in May after floating at Great Lakes Flotation.
He said his first try was "pretty rocky" but after the second time, "I was blown away by how I felt. I felt so relaxed, at peace and calm."
McCullar said some first-time floaters are afraid that they will feel claustrophobic in the tank, but he assures them that a gentle push is all that is needed to open the door, and they can turn on lights or music with the push of a button. He said the water is buoyant enough to support people who weigh as much as 400 pounds.
Terri Stangl, owner of Great Lakes Flotation, said that for most people, the first float "takes a little longer to unplug." By the second or third float, "they're able to settle in much more quickly and really enjoy it."
"It's not like running a tanning booth," she said. "People often come out of a float session and have questions and want to talk. They're thinking about stuff going on in their lives, thinking about changes they want to make, things they'd like to resolve with their families. When they float, they think and find results."
Wendy Johnson, owner of Delta Floats, opened her business in August 2013. She said it has grown steadily and is "as busy as I can handle it."
"Almost all of my clients are word of mouth and referrals," Johnson said. "For the most part, people are looking for stress relief, to get a break from all that stress, or to resolve some of what is causing the stress in their lives."
By Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press