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I Tried It: Sensory Deprivation Tank


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Photo by Jenny Siegwart

You try it!

Flōt Spa
1202 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
$40 for 1-hour float; $60 for 2-hour float

I have a tough time winding down to sleep. That’s why Flōt sounded appealing. The spa offers sensory deprivation tanks, enclosed chambers containing 12 inches of water with 1,000 pounds of dissolved Epsom salt—a treatment meant to cleanse the mind. I hoped it could be a new way to quiet my chatty brain.

When I arrive, I watch a slideshow about what to expect during my float. In the room with my private tank, I undress to take a pre-float shower, a measure that keeps their filtration system in check. Once in the shallow chamber of 95-degree water, I get on my back, center myself by pushing off the sides, and let my body rise with the buoyancy of a cork to just under the surface, leaving only my face above water. The five-by-eight-foot chamber is pitch dark and enclosed but not airtight, so I can take deep breaths and avoid feeling claustrophobic.

No need to worry about falling asleep and drowning; if you roll over, your wake-up call would be salt burning your eyes. The solution is many times saltier than the ocean, and as I soak I become acutely aware of an unhealed blister and a cuticle tear—I’d forgotten to apply the Vaseline they offer beforehand to protect broken skin. Earplugs are also available upon request for another level of sensory deprivation.

The hour-long float was deeply relaxing, and the zero-gravity sensation relieved any pressure in my joints. Post-float, I took a second shower to wash away the excess salt, which left my skin feeling very soft. Shower products are complimentary, but bring your own comb or dryer if you have further plans for the day.

I had a hard time quieting my thoughts, but would probably benefit from additional sessions to get more comfortable with the experience. With practice, I could see how the conditions would be just right to help that constant inner monologue drift away.

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