Lately I’ve been sleeping deeper, waking easier. There are a few things at play: I’m being much more protective of weekends and for the last few haven’t opened my laptop to do any work; I’ve just read ‘The Life-changing Magic of Tidying’ and had a huge clean out in my bedroom; also read ‘The Soul Searchers Handbook’ and feng-shuied my room (just a touch – don’t want to freak my very left-brain husband out!); and taken a soul-igniting, filling-my-cup leap (more on this later). But the most body-altering influence, I think, must be a series of three float pod sessions I’ve had in the last month.
I say “I think” and “must be”, because I can’t categorically say these sessions have caused my sleep to improve. But there’s undoubtedly a correlation – and plenty of people who do swear by it.
“Since having Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune condition) and more recently adrenal fatigue I have really struggled with good quality sleep. Some nights is a real struggle to actually fall asleep and on those nights I do, I would usually wake up wide awake at 2am with the energy that I seriously lack during every day. Floating is now my go-to way of shutting off from the world and taking a really good quality hour for myself. I find sleeping so much better now!” (Ange Plowman)
If it can aid our sleep mummies, then I’m all for sharing it with you. Here’s the low down…
Think big futuristic-looking bath, the shape of an egg, filled with water kept at body temperature, that’s been infused with 500kg of epsom salts – which is magnesium sulphate. This ratio of water:salt creates buoyancy and allows you to float, unaided; totally still, in the water. (It really is the most unexpected thing to get into a bath of water and without effort, just float!)
The outer experience:
Here’s what you do: You get nude and get in. You close the lid of the pod and if you wish (it’s recommended), turn off the light. Darkness. Quiet. Peace. All external stimuli is eliminated and you’re with your body and thoughts only. Gentle relaxing music plays for 10 minutes to soothe and settle your mind, and then: Silence. For 40 minutes, before the same music rouses you and your session ends.
The inner experience:
Here’s what you really do: Your body relaxes and your mind tethers on the theta state; deep meditation – without really even trying. How? Magnesium is one of the minerals that helps our body get into REM sleep which is the deep restorative sleep phase when healing takes place. Theta is the brain state of REM sleep. The combination of magnesium, directly absorbed through your skin, plus sensory deprivation takes your body into a state of tranquility and very deep relaxation while conscious. Your body, in this cocoon, feels safe; there’s no fight or flight response going on, as is so often the case in our busy lives, so you’re free to just be. 1 hour in a float tank is the equivalent of up to 8 hours sleep. Hello mummies! How much do we need this!?
But wait there’s more:
You can actually get a kind of out-of-body experience. I’m serious. In my first float my mind was focussed more on the environment of this new experience. The second time, knowing what it was all about, I let myself go totally into my mind. Because the water is body temperature and you float so still, I literally didn’t feel it anymore and in my mind I was vertical (not horizontal) floating in the darkness of outer space. Sounds trippy, I know. It was. And so, so relaxing that next minute, my body jolted… awake – I’d fallen asleep! When I told Emma afterward, the owner of White Spa & Float Lounge in Auckland, she smiled knowingly and shared the science behind my experience: Science says that theta waves are accompanied by free association, creative inspiration, a feeling of serenity and ‘oneness with the universe’.
In our busy lives, to take an hour to be cocooned in a womb-like state, safe and sound, serenely at one (if not with the universe then just with yourself) is simply bliss.
I wrote recently in an article about me-time being not a fix, nor a cure, but a preventative:
“Motherhood is a responsibility; a job for life. But with this job, there’s no contract, no start and finish time (if only!), no performance review or bonus, no holiday leave. As women we are hardwired to please, and as mothers we hold a lot of store in harmony. So we tend to say ‘yes’ a lot. We make ourselves available to other people – our children, partner, colleagues, friends. We wear so many hats, and it can wear us out and sap our energy so that often we find ourselves running on reserve.”
Me-time is a necessary preventative for mums so that we don’t burn out. Floating is the ultimate me-time. Noone can get to you. You’re at complete rest, and the benefits continue long after the session. It’s certainly changed me for the better: for the first day or two after I’ve floated I literally feel like I’m floating; more serene, more at ease as I gently move through my days and nights. Beyond that, there’s a latent calmness in me – whether that’s the build up of magnesium continuing to work it’s magic, or whether that’s my memory and a shift in perspective (ie. a bit more psychological – afterall, our minds tell us stories, as I talk about in my book), or whether perhaps it’s a bit of both. Whatever it is, I like it. So does Ange: “During my floats I manage to reach an amazing meditative state. I can’t even begin to explain the insane state of calmness that you feel afterwards.”
We like it, and we think you will too.
Learn more at White Spa & Float Lounge.
Righto, it’s 9.30pm, time to float off to bed. Nigh night xx