Infinity Float sensory deprivation tank
- Sensory deprivation tanks force you into a meditative state by eliminating sound, light, and touch.
- Multiple studies have shown sensory deprivation tanks relieve anxiety and depression.
- I tried one at New York City’s Infinity Float and felt like it reduced my anxiety.
Sensory deprivation tanks, or float tanks, are shallow pools of water in an enclosed, sound-proof space that allow users to spend time without hearing, touching, or seeing anything.
Multiple studies have shown sensory deprivation tanks aid in lowering stress and alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. They’ve become a beacon for wellness-adjacent folks who are looking for a science-backed way to relieve anxiety while having fun.
I visited Infinity Float in Manhattan, New York to try a space frequented by athletes, businesspeople, actors, entrepreneurs, families, and general wellness enthusiasts. Here’s how it went.
How sensory deprivation alleviated my anxiety
Infinity Float sensory deprivation tank
I suffer from anxiety, and I’ve had elevated levels of anxiety for weeks due to personal reasons — at times so bad I could not eat or sleep.
The morning of the sensory deprivation float my anxiety was very elevated: I felt on edge and tense all day before my 2 p.m. appointment.
Before heading to the tank, an Infinity Float employee discussed the steps to take before entering. I had to put in wax ear plugs and shower for a few minutes. Though I brought my bathing suit, Infinity Float suggests you swim naked.
Infinity Float adds a high concentration of epsom salt to the tubs, which works as a natural anti-microbial and antiseptic. The company provides petroleum jelly to apply to cuts and scars so the salt water does not irritate your skin.
The door to the tank connected to the shower, so when I was done rinsing off I stepped into a large bathtub surrounded by walls and filled with about a foot of water.
Infinity Float recommends customers shower before and after using the sensory deprivation tank.
I got into the tub and used a floating head rest to get myself in position. As a first time floater, finding a comfortable position felt awkward and unnatural, but the weird feeling went away after a few minutes. The sensory deprivation tank was sound proof aside from soft, calming music playing on a speaker. There was also a blue lightbulb inside the water and lights that mimic stars on the ceiling. I kept the music and star lights on and began my hourlong float session.
The first five minutes of floating continued to feel awkward as I worried about whether I was doing it correctly and whether I’ll get bored in the hour. But 10 minutes into the experience my thoughts started to drift away and I felt fully focused on the star lights and soft music.
I struggle with meditation because I tend to get easily distracted, but I found the sensory deprivation tank forced my body into a meditative state. I had never experienced that level of mindlessness: My body slowly loosened up, and the anxiety that had kept my heart rate elevated and mind racing melted away.
I stared at star lights for most of my time in the Infinity Float sensory deprivation tank.
About halfway into my float I decided to try full sensory deprivation and turned off the music and lights. Unfortunately, as I got up to do that, salt water got in my eye and I had to leave the tank to wipe my face with a towel.
I didn’t like the full sensory deprivation experience as much as with the music and star lights. I felt bizarrely embarrassed by the fact I was laying down naked in the dark, and it was difficult to reach that relaxed state. After a few minutes, I decided to turn the music and star lights back on for the remainder of the hour.
The best part of the sensory deprivation experience was being away from my phone, my computer, and my personal responsibilities. I had a lot going on in my life, but inside the tank I was able to get away from my worries and realize they are not as unmanageable as I had been feeling.
Though I couldn’t check the time, after what felt like 50 minutes I felt myself starting to get slightly bored and wonder when my hour was up. Finally, the music got louder and the larger light bulb turned back on for a few minutes before jets turned on in the water, signaling the end of my session.
I immediately got up and felt euphoric: The anxieties and worries I had prior to the tank were not taking up all my energy anymore. Better yet, something about the sensory deprivation tank gave me a rush of positive emotion and joy that I hadn’t felt in weeks.
I showered for a recommended 10 minutes after the tank, washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner and using body wash to get dried salt off my skin.
As I left Infinity Float, I decided I will use sensory deprivation the next time I feel overwhelmed with anxiety. The experience costs $99 for an hour, which, for me, is well worth it for the benefit it had on my mental health.