Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Floating Your Way To a Healthier You… Long Term Use of Anti-Anxiety or Sleep Medications Could Increase Dementia Risk over 50%
DEAR FLOAT DOCTOR: Help! I have been using sleep aids on and off for 2 years now. I’ve also been taking Xanax for anxiety for the last 12 years. I saw on BBC that long-term use could increase my potential risk to develop Alzheimer's. I also ended up seeing this on other reputable websites when I looked into it more. This makes me very concerned and kinda scared as I had two grandparents with this horrible condition.
So, I decided to stop taking them and now I can’t even count on getting 3 hours straight of sleep. I am very restless and have increased bouts of anxiety about taking anything now. I need to do something to treat my insomnia and help me manage this anxiety better. It seems to be affecting so much in my life, my work and my relationships. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I am very tempted to take the pills, but I don’t want to increase my risk of losing my mind, though I feel like I am already losing it by not taking them. Urgh… I heard floating is a natural therapy that can improve sleep and reduce anxiety symptoms. How does it work? Can it help me? --Desperate for Answers
DEAR DESPERATE: You are not alone in your struggle. Roughly 30 percent of the population battles with insomnia at some point in their life. Research reports that nearly 3 million individuals each year get help with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Anxiety is even more common affecting 40 million people. There are medications for these issues, and they come in many different classes. What you are referencing relates primarily to benzodiazepine drugs. Long-term use is generally defined as “3 months or more,” though there are many different views on this. We highly recommend that you discuss these concerns with your prescribing physician.
Regarding your question about how floating helps, I can tell you from experience that people fall asleep all the time at the center while floating. Depending on how wound up a person is, it may take some time to decompress. There are techniques to achieve the “down shift” that comes with floating, which allows you to get the results you want, both inside of the tank and beyond.
Floating is also referred to as sensory deprivation because there is no light or sound present so that the user can get to a point of not even noticing his or her body. Upon entering the cabin, you will find that you float effortlessly in the solution, which consists of 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical grade Epsom salts and 250 gallons of water.
Let me briefly explain what happens to the mind and body during a float therapy session:
➢ The brain turns off vestibular and proprioceptive functions which may inform you to reposition because your arm is not getting adequate circulation, or your blankets need adjustment because you feel hot or cold. These brain processes occur when you sleep and are more vigilant when you are awake.
➢Since there are no pressure points perceived while floating and the temperature is set at “skin-receptor neutral” those processes release their control while floating. This is the “reset” that occurs in the body and mind, which is akin to restarting your phone. This is the unique anti-gravity experience and sense of overall calmness to help you sleep more soundly and have reduced anxiety symptoms.
➢ A shut down of 15 minutes or more resets your inner frequency to a relaxed state so your body and mind begin to quiet. Some people achieve this the first time they try, and others may take 3 to 5 sessions, depending on their level of anxiety. Most people may shift in and out of this shut down several times. The longer a person can stay in the shutdown state, the more refreshed a person will feel afterwards and the longer the effects outside of the tank.
➢ Putting these functions “on standby” may take some practice to get the lasting benefits. With regular float practice you will teach yourself to calm naturally.
➢ The “turning back on” of the senses restores some of the default operations to reestablish functioning to a more manageable level. This will reset you to a more relaxed “normal” that can last for days.
Simply go into the treatment as if you are about to take a bath. Once you are in the cabin:
1 Take slow breaths.
2 Release thoughts that pop into your awareness.
3 Let the magic happen...
We advise you to “let everything go.” Dump anything out of your mind that does not assist in obtaining a relaxing state. In a float tank you will discover that you are so much more than the thoughts in your head and the body you move around. Connect to the real inspiration and purpose that is inside of you. Set the responsibilities and expectations free.
The reality is that we just don’t realize how jacked up we are until we get into a float chamber. We normalize our anxious state to do what we think we need to do every day. Floating is essentially a time to perform some maintenance on the mind and body similar to how we shut off the engine to refuel our car. If we don’t make time for our car needs or personal health needs, we will be forced to do so at perhaps a less convenient time with potentially more problems than if we had addressed it more regularly and proactively.
Floating truly is an amazing tool to improve overall health and inspire creativity. It is useful for chronic pain conditions, detoxifying, reducing inflammation and migraine relief. I know I can’t get into everything that floating does in this response but feel free to check out our website for more information. There are some great videos to help you better understand floating at: www.floatdr.net. Find yourself at Float Doctor!
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