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aka What to Do when You’ve Got a “Sinker”

There are multiple ways to let your floaters know that it is time to get out of the tank. According to float lore, the first centers to open back in the 70’s used to wake people up by popping open the hatch and giving the floater’s big toe a little tug. Word is, some centers still do it the “old school” way.

What happens when you don't wake up from a floatThe float industry has come a long way since then, and now lots of tanks come with sound systems and lights built in that can be controlled remotely, and in general most centers rely on less up-close and personal methods of waking up their floaters.

As with many systems in the crazy and often unpredictable world of commercial floating, It’s always good to have a few back ups in place should your primary method of waking up your floaters prove ineffective . This will also help in dealing with “sinkers” as we shall soon see.

The method you use to wake up a floater has to be gentle. No one wants to get blasted out of their float with loud music or bright lights, this could totally ruin the natural float buzz they have going. A sudden, jarring sensation can cause the body to go into “panic mode,” producing a spike of adrenaline and cortisol, the opposite of what is supposed to happen in a float tank. Instead of relaxed and happy, they’ll be stressed and angry.


You want to softly lull your floaters back to reality. We like to wake our floaters up with music, but you could also use natural sounds like dolphin songs or ocean waves, or chimes, gongs, chants, and so forth. If you really want to drive the point home that a float is over, you could play recording of a voice saying “Your float is over.”

We like to start our music quietly and slowly increase the volume so that the floaters don’t hear it come on, they just gently come to the realization that they are hearing music and therefore the float must be over.


lighting in a float tank centerLights are also a good way to let a floater know their time is up. We recommend getting music controls and lights that you can fade up or down. If that is not possible, you can choose music tracks that fade in on their own. If your lights won’t fade in, you’re at least going to want them to be dim. You obviously don’t want to blast your floater right in the eyes with a bright light after they have just spent 90 minutes in utter darkness. Whether or not you have a dimmer, it’s a good idea turn on the music 30 seconds or so before turning the lights on. Let your floaters know that they will hear music and then the lights will come on so that they won’t be taken by surprise.

How to wake up Sinkers

If you’ve worked in a float center for even a short period of time, you are bound to have come across what we at Float On lovingly call a “Sinker”- someone who, for whatever reason, does not get out of their float at the appointed time.

They may be fast asleep. They might not be able to hear the music. They might hear the music, but think that it is a hallucination. They might have come to the conclusion, during the course of their float, that there is no such thing as time, and therefore it could not possibly be time to get out.

Regardless of the reason, you’ve got floaters that need to float, and they can’t do that until you get those sinkers out. What do you do, hot shot?

What. Do. You. Do?

music to end a float sessionAgain, it’s always good to have a multi-tiered plan of action in case one or more of your methods proves ineffective. You also want to be as unobtrusive as possible starting out, then gradually escalate the intrusiveness if you have to. You are, after all, dealing with a naked person who is mostly likely operating under the assumption that their privacy is not going to be disturbed.

Treat them kindly and gently. You do not want to startle them, embarrass them, or make them feel in any way ashamed for not getting out at the appointed time. (Remember, time is just an illusion anyways.)

Methods We Use

(in order of escalating intensity)

  1. First, we check to make sure everything is plugged in and working and increase the volume if it is not up all the way. Sometimes fading the music up and down a few times is enough to wake the sinker up.
  2. If the music we are playing is too mellow we play louder, more upbeat music. It doesn’t have to be Slayer, just something that says “time to get up and get moving!” “Eye of the Tiger” maybe?
  3. Next, we try knocking on the door of the room and calmly yelling out “Hey (floater’s name), just checking to see if you heard the music! Can you hear me?”
  4. If they don’t respond, we try again.
  5. If the Sinker has a trusted companion waiting for them, we’ll enlist their help in getting the Sinker out. Before sending in one of yours, send in one of theirs.
  6. If they continue to not respond, we knock and call out to them again, before slowly and quietly entering the room. If possible, we try to send in someone of the same gender as the person in the tank.
  7. Here’s where you can get creative: You are now inside their room and about to wake them up. How are you going to do it? With a boring knock to the side of the tank and a dull “Hey so and so, its time to get out?” Maybe, instead of that, you sing them a little song. Maybe you and your co-worker serenade them a capella. Maybe you go in carrying a musical instrument. Maybe you say it a ridiculous accent. Who knows? There’s no reason not to have a little fun with it, that’s all I’m sayin’.
  8. If all else fails, you’ve knocked on the tank and yelled and serenaded and they still won’t get out of the tank, then it’s time to open up the door of the tank. Try to avoid looking into the tank as you do it – there is afterall a naked person in there.
  9. If you open the door, calmly shout at them, and if they still do not respond, then you may or may not want to make actual physical contact. I hear a little tug on the big toe will often do the trick, but mainly if you are going to touch a naked stranger its probably a good idea to do so on a spot as far away from their private parts as possible.
GRAIN OF SALT: Do NOT run the pumps while a floater / sinker is in the tanks. Aside from this can be one of the most fear inducing things while deep in a float, there are also safety measures to take into consideration. Especially if that floater has long hair.

It may seem hard to believe, but it does occasionally go that far. Again, the key to handling the Sinker situation well is to treat them as gently and as unobtrusively as possible. Remember, its probably not the end of the world if the next floater gets in a little late. If a client’s float is cut short because of a Sinker, you might want to consider offering that person a free or discounted float. That can take a little pressure off to rush the Sinker out of the room.

You’ll find that Sinkers, if treated well, are some of the most grateful floaters you will encounter. It’s quite likely that the reason they have not gotten out on time is that they have achieved a level of relaxation in your float tank unlike anything they have experienced before and their body has decided to take full advantage of it. And sometimes that is more important than such trifling matters as exiting a room on time. If there even is such a thing as time.