What happens if I fall asleep in the float tank?
It’s one of the most common questions we get asked. Trust us when we say there’s nothing to fear…
Alongside that other frequently asked question, this old chestnut is something we often hear from newbie-floaters. The short answer is yes – falling asleep in a float tank does happen, although it’s much less likely than you think. And even if you do nod off, the chances are your brain is in a state of hypnagogia – that is, the state between clear-headed wakefulness and slumber. It’s a lucid state of consciousness – and it can be difficult to distinguish whether you’re awake or dreaming.
For many meditators, creatives and people looking to explore their own consciousness, this state is almost the Holy Grail. We’ve spoken about how floating causes your brain to operate at a lower frequency – producing theta waves – and this in turn creates a heightened sense of presentness, creativity, and even problem-solving. This state is often referred to as the threshold of consciousness, because well, that’s exactly what it is – that boundary between the conscious and the unconscious. So the short answer is yes – you can fall asleep in a float tank, although you may be mistaking nodding off for reaching a deep, meditative state!
Still, it’s common to have questions. Especially if you’re new to floating. We’re sometimes asked if sleeping through a session is a waste of your float. Firstly, we’d hesitate to call any float a waste – even half an hour in the tank can help ease muscle tensions and mental anxieties. In fact, floating provides so many physical benefits that require no conscious input whatsoever, so nap away!
Due to the buoyancy effect of the salt water, all the muscles in your body are allowed to relax into their natural state, relieving tension and muscle tightness. It’s an experience you’d be hard-pushed to recreate in another situation on planet earth, and it’s the closest your muscles will experience to zero gravity.
Meanwhile, your skin is absorbing all the goodness of the magnesium sulphate in the water, which is essential for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. That includes everything from dissipating lactic acid, to regulating your heartbeat, to keeping your bones, hair and nails nice and strong. This all happens whether you’re awake in the tank or not, so we’d hardly call a sleepy float a total waste!
Along with this, new floaters will sometimes worry about the safety of falling asleep in the tank. For starters, each tank is only filled with about a foot of water – similar to your bath tub. And because there’s 1,200 pounds of Epsom Salts dissolved in every tank, you’re as buoyant as a tourist on the Dead Sea. Nevertheless, our i-sopod tanks are built with safety in mind. So if you’re ever worried in the tank, just sit up and give the door a little nudge. It’s all very modern and techie, so it opens with a gentle push – and you’ll be out of the tank in a flash.
So we’ve established that sleeping in a float tank is possible, safe, and even encouraged. But what happens if you take it all one step further? With an hour’s floating offering up similar physical and mental benefits to a six-hour sleep in a bed, the logical next step is for us all to replace our beds with tanks, surely?
While all-night floats can have incredible benefits, it’s not a viable replacement for natural sleep. Regular floaters will often find themselves energised after a float, and need a few hours to allow their body to wind down before hitting the hay. This does, however, promote much more regular sleeping patterns, as anyone who’s floated will tell you!
Floating and sleeping, then, are certainly intertwined. One can help the other, and it’s the similar states of low-frequency consciousness that allows your body to repair and rebuild whether floating or napping.
But if you take our word on one thing, it’s this: if you fall asleep during a float, you’re perfectly safe, and still reaping the benefits of the unique environment.
For further reading, find out why floating can actually improve the quality of your sleep outside of the tank – whether you fall asleep during your session or not!