If you’ve ever looked into scientific research for float tanks, sensory isolation, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (as the kids are fond of calling it), you’ve almost definitely come across one of the earliest resources we put out at Float Tank Solutions: our Free Scientific Research List.
When we first released this list back in 2011, it was as close to a comprehensive list as we could create. It was put together in an effort to illustrate that sensory isolation was a thoroughly studied practice and there was scientific evidence for the health claims we were making. Many float centers adopted this list for their own uses and put it on their sites, spreading the information and making it more available.
Some articles that were posted in the original research list were duplicates, some weren’t directly related to float tanks, and some couldn’t actually be verified. So we’ve taken the last few months to give it a big, loving update.
If you compare this list with our previous one, you’ll notice a few big changes:
For starters, you’ll notice additional categories in the spreadsheet. The original list had just four categories: Author, Title, Source (if applicable), and Year.
The updated list has Author, Title, Source, Year, Type, Country, and Category. Each entry into the list has been thoroughly researched so you’ll no longer find blank cells for sources or the year the study was done.
Type refers to the type of publication that it is. Most of them are research articles, some are books, a handful are doctoral dissertations, and there are a couple that are called “scientific reports”. These reports were papers delivered to an organization but weren’t published and available for the public. These were included in the list as they provide an important insight into the conversations that were happening around sensory isolation research as it was just starting to take off in the 1960s.
We included country of origin for the research for each entry. This was done because some people may wish to quickly see a compiled list of everything to come out of Sweden or Canada, specifically for the collection of researchers doing work out there.
Category of research is one of our favorite additions, although it requires a bit of explanation. Most of the studies that float research is based on are the old sensory deprivation studies that started in the 60s and 70s. To differentiate from the controversy of “sensory deprivation” they started calling their research “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” or REST. When researchers in the 80s started using float tanks to achieve similar sensory reduction benefits, they called that type of research “Float REST” and the older style of research became known as “Chamber REST”. A handful of studies have also researched the benefits of a float tank with a membrane over the water, so as to not require immersion and making it a generally cleaner research condition. However, there is a chance that submersion in a saltwater solution has health benefits, so it was important to make the distinction. There are also a handful of other studies that aren’t directly related to float rest but still merit being on the list because the benefits are related. The major benefit to this new category is that it’s now incredibly easy to see, at a glance, research that only relates to float tanks.
The next major thing you’ll probably notice is a second tab at the bottom of the list that says “presentations”. This includes scientific presentations from the recent Float Conferences, as well as a much more complete list of all the research presented at the International Conferences on REST. It was important to differentiate between studies that were only “presented’ some place as opposed to others that were published, but there are several entries that you’ll find on both lists.
Another detail you may notice is that this list appears to have fewer entries than the old list. This is for a few reasons, the most important being that several of the entries in the old list were duplicates, sometimes having different titles for the same article. Others weren’t relevant to floating, and still others were more appropriately placed under the presentations tab. This time around, we individually researched each entry to verify its contents, making sure that it was pertinent to floating and accurately presented.
Some things that you almost definitely didn’t notice about this (but are still really cool):
- All of the article and publication formatting is now consistent.
- All of the researchers’ names are formatted consistently.
- For any article that was published in multiple publications, we went with the earliest publication and omitted the other ones.
We hope that you all finds these updates useful. A good deal of effort to make this resource the most comprehensive and accurate list of research that currently exists. Enjoy!