The Science Fiction of Floatation Tanks in Altered States

Altered States

We all know that science fiction movies aren’t real. That’s the point, right? To explore imagined worlds and consider things that would be otherwise impossible.

No one would be tempted to call the 1980 sci-fi cult classic Altered States realistic. It rests squarely in the science fiction genre, with limited grounding in actual science. Nevertheless, Altered States was one of the first creative portrayals of sensory deprivation, making it an entry point into popular consciousness.

There’s a lot to critique (or even laugh about) in the films depiction of floatation. But despite its fantastic leanings, Altered States makes some interesting—and surprisingly accurate—points about the effects of floatation on memory, hallucination, and sensory overload.

The Plot

Altered States follows Dr. Eddie Jessup (played by William Hurt), a Harvard scientist, as he conducts experiments on himself in an isolation chamber. He believes he may be able to reveal previously unattainable states of consciousness by combining psychedelic drugs with stints in a sensory deprivation tank.

Alarmingly, these experiments cause unexpected altered states – not only of consciousness, but of physical being. Dr. Jessup begins to devolve and nearly disappears before his wife brings him back to reality.

Truth in (Science) Fiction

When Dr. Jessup enters the floatation tanks, he experiences intense hallucinations. While the disturbing nature of his hallucinations is the stuff of science fiction, the fact of them is real.

Many people engaging in floatation experience visual or auditory hallucinations. This is because the lack of external information creates a blank canvas on which the brain may project interpretations of internally occurring sensations. Unlike Altered States, people experience floatation as a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.


Another somewhat accurate element is the film’s correlation between memory and floatation. Dr. Jessup’s regression to a primitive state is supposed to be a kind of memory regression through the evolution of humanity.

While the character’s assertion that we have “more than 6 billion years of memory in our minds” isn’t scientifically sound, we do hold many memories we don’t access during the course of our ordinary lives.

Floatation actually promotes a sharper, more accurate memory. While this is hardly the same thing as “remembering” your way back to the dawn of creation, there’s certainly a correlation between memory and floatation.

Moving to Reality

Interested in trying floatation for yourself? Contact Northwest Float Center to schedule a real-life experience, and see what all the hype is about.

Original author: Alex Ziegler

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How Floatation May Improve Cognition


The brain is extraordinarily complex. Many researchers maintain that our unconscious minds process the equivalent of 11 million bits of information per second. Our central nervous systems coordinate the activities of every part of our bodies.

Given how much we expect our brains to handle, it’s no wonder we need to recharge. Sleep is one way to rest and regroup, but how else can we rejuvenate the brain?

More Restful Than Sleep

Floatation can produce a more profound state of relaxation than sleep. Floatation may therefore improve cognition by recharging your brain in a way sleep can’t.

What factors make floatation different from sleep?

  • Many people sleep in an environment filled with distractions. Lights, sounds, and uncomfortable sensations can disrupt restorative rest.
  • Stress from the workday may bleed over into sleep time, disturbing sleep patterns and making it difficult for a person to feel fully rested.
  • In floatation, the lack of stimulation helps floaters disconnect from their stress. This helps the floater enter a deeper state of relaxation.
  • Along with reduced external stimulation, floatation produces a feeling of weightlessness, which reduces any internal distractions – such as chronic pain and discomfort.

Floatation Can Improve Sleep

While floatation doesn’t replace sleep, it can improve sleep quality. Floatation reduces the stress hormone cortisol and increases prolactin, which aids in sleep. The result is deep relaxation during floatation, and with regular sessions, more restful sleep overall. Better sleep means improved brain function.

More Accessible Than Advanced Meditation

Meditation can produce similar cognitive benefits. Attaining the right meditative state, however, can take years of careful training. Floatation is something of a short-cut to a meditative state. By creating a distraction-free environment, floaters can more quickly access the state of consciousness required to restore full cognitive functioning.

Results of Research

Dr. Peter Suedfeld, a scientist and researcher, has made a career of documenting the positive effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapies (REST), such as floatation, on cognitive processes. He has researched the benefits of REST for decades and is a pioneer in the field.

Dr. Suedfeld’s research shows that REST can improve memory function, verbal processing, creativity, and musicality. One reason for enhanced creativity is that floatation produces a sense of “openness” in floaters, which enables them to approach tasks more creatively. Dr. Suedfeld notes that floatation can even enhance cognitive functions that sleep doesn’t.

Other researchers have studied the ways floatation can lower blood pressure, reduce pain, and alleviate depression and anxiety. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of deep relaxation through floatation, contact Northwest Float Center today.

Original author: Float

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The Journey to Here

JF journey to here image 640x372 copy

By: Annalisa Hefner, Co-founder Just Float, Inc.

It started with a miracle. Eight months pregnant with our long-awaited first baby, we sought out our first float. I emerged from a dream. I’d been weightless for over an hour and had somehow heard a sweet duet of my baby’s heartbeat and my own. Jim emerged into a dream. A lifelong entrepreneur with an amazing business partner, he immediately resolved to open a float center.

We thought we’d be open by her first birthday. In reality, it took a year just to find the right building. The vision was always to build a float center that would revolutionize the experience and the industry. That started with the perfect location: easy access, stress-free parking, one-story and few windows to create a true, quiet sanctuary. The building we found was perfect, but the chopped-up maze of offices and storage rooms meant we had to demolish everything and start over.

The Journey to Here_1

Hard became our mantra. When none of the float tanks on the market met our needs, we designed and built our own. When a three-month permit fight with the city threatened the dream, we expanded our plans to create the only ADA-designed tank in North America. When contractors had never even heard of floating, let alone how to build what we wanted, we taught them. Every step has been a monumental fight, but the result is a space that epitomizes peace.

Journey to Here_2

When we finally open our doors September 29th, you’ll be welcomed into our dream: A state-of-the-art float center that combines technology, comfort and healing. Each of our 11 private float rooms offer handcrafted bamboo benches, a spa-like shower and a custom-built float cabin that is spacious, noise-proof and technology-rich. The lights, audio and filtration systems are all part of an intuitively designed automation system that allows our clients to experience the ultimate float. The lights and music fade in and out in response to your movements and wishes. The four-step sanitation system assures every guest absolutely pure and safe water. Each float cabin sits upon vibration-absorbing pads that allow for a truly distraction-free float.

We’ve learned and cried and made many, many mistakes. We share your frustration at how long this has taken, but the time has finally come to invite you to join us. When you arrive, you’ll be warmly welcomed into a beautiful, serene place where your only goal is to relax. We wholeheartedly believe in the power of floating to improve every life. Now all we need is you. (Just try something new. Just leave your expectations at the door. Just be, just breathe, Just Float.)

Whether you’ve floated 100 times or never, we invite you to visit us in Pasadena. We’re offering new customers 50% off your first one-hour float therapy session when you sign up for our email list. If you’ve already signed up, expect to receive your discount code by email in the coming week. Today, we’re opening up our online scheduling system to the world. Be one of the first to float with us by booking your session online now!


Jim Hefner



Do You Want Radiant Skin? Then Float

look radiant

It happens all the time. Someone walks out of the float tank and they are glowing. I often tell people when they come out of their float sessions, “You are glowing.” One of our clients, Grayson, recently gave a video testimonial where she talked about how she looked ten years younger after her first float. Having radiant skin has many benefits. For example, a recent article about, “How to Look Like a Millionaire,” indicates at the end of the article how important it is to have radiant skin. In other words, you can dress well but having radiant skin is as important as a beautiful suit or dress.

There are two main reasons for why floating helps you have better skin. The first is the increase of magnesium into the body. The second is the relaxation and stress reducing effect of floating.

Magnesium is absorbed into the body during a float session because the Epsom salt (MgSO4) is made of magnesium. In other words, when you float you are floating in a sea of millions of magnesium ions. The influx of magnesium helps your skin because magnesium is an important cofactor in biochemical reactions needed for skin repair (Livestrong, 2015). The book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” writes about a study in which cells that were deficient in magnesium were twice as likely to experience attacks from free radicals, thereby increasing wrinkles. The upshot of the study was that increasing magnesium reduced wrinkles. Magnesium also reduces skin allergies. If someone is low in magnesium it increases production of histamines, which can lead to skin reactions such as blotches. If you want to reduce skin allergies come float and get your magnesium.

Another important reason why floating helps people have radiant skin is the increased mental relaxation and reduction of mental stress. Stress impairs the immune system, which hinders the skin’s ability to heal itself. Some research also indicates chronic stress can reduce the skin’s ability to regulate the inflow and outflow of material. The skin normally prevents the influx of harmful substances into the body. However, research suggests chronic stress might reduce the skin’s ability to keep out toxins, which can lead to skin disease (Harvard Health Publications, 2015).
If you want to look great for work or for your friends and family (maybe even for a special event), you should come in and float. The increase in magnesium and the reduction in mental stress will make you look younger and create a radiance that will make you feel and look fantastic.

Original author: David Conneely

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Free Your Schedule, Free Your Mind

free schedule free mind

Our society is filled with ideas around, “I can do anything,” and, “The sky’s the limit.” As a result, people are often running around trying to squeeze as much out of life into each day. They run around from one activity to another trying to “get the most” out of their life. However, sometimes people spend too much time on doing things instead of what is going on within themselves. They also do not always examine how their intensely booked schedule is taking a toll on them. Chronic fatigue and anxiety are rampant and our fast and furiously booked schedules contribute.

It is important to balance activity with non-activity. One can see this concept in the yin-yang symbol. The yang represents activity. The yin represents inactivity. They must be balanced in order for there to be harmony. In today’s world of busyness and speed a “discipline of slowing down” is required. Slowing down can come in the form of saying no to going out five days in a row after work and carving out a night to chill out at home and relax. It might mean saying no to the sixth exercise class that week and instead sitting at home enjoying a cup of tea with a loved one, or a gentle walk by the beach to be reminded of the beauty of nature.

Saying no to the overfull schedule frees up space in one’s life and it frees up space in the mind. It can allow deeper thoughts to come through. Those thoughts are important to express. It might result in you taking on a different point of view about your boss or child. The benefits of slowing down and taking on different points of view are enormous. Relationships are guaranteed to be enhanced and you are guaranteed to have more energy.

Don’t worry. The world is not going to fall apart because you missed that important art opening reception or the next book club meeting. In fact, the world might take on a richness and vibrancy that will make the next event and your relationships so much more meaningful and rewarding.

Original author: David Conneely

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