Float Therapy: The Ultimate Relief for Jet Lag and Travel Tension

It’s true: people love to travel. There’s just something deep inside many of us that gives us an undeniable wanderlust. Whether it’s the drive to experience new things, a desire to return someplace you’ve loved, or just the whim to pick a direction and see what’s out there, most people feel that pull sooner or later.

Still, while travel can be an amazing adventure, it sometimes carries stress along with it. One of the most insidious and dreaded forms is the phenomenon known as “jet lag.” Or, the fatigue that comes from experiencing a significant shift in time zones. But even if you’re flying straight north or south without needing to reset your watch, tiredness from travel can be a real bear to deal with.

Let’s start with the time zone pickle. Domestically, the effects of traditional jet lag can be noticeable, but mild. If it’s noon in Los Angeles, it’s only 3 p.m. in New York. Usually, a quick coffee is all you really need in that case.

But what about international travel? That same noon in LA is 8 p.m. in London. 11 p.m. in Moscow. And in Tokyo and Sydney, it’s already tomorrow. So, whether traveling for business or leisure, adjusting to a completely different schedule can really cramp your traveling style.

Even staying within the same time zone is no guarantee you won’t de-plane pretty wrung out. It takes just as much time to fly from Miami to Toronto as it does to jet from Chicago to Las Vegas. So even though you’re not necessarily messing with your perception of the hour when you land, it can still be a pretty exhausting day of travel.

There are a lot of theories as to why travel tension happens, and how to alleviate it. Some health experts have suggested that extended time spent at elevated altitudes may be partially to blame. There’s even a school of thought gaining momentum that says strolling around barefoot in the local earth may help literally ground us, and “reset” certain electrical charges in the body.

Thankfully, there’s a significant range of evidence that indicates floating can be very effective in re-orienting your internal clock to promote improved restfulness. Since some studies suggest that an hour in a float tank can be equivalent to a 5-7 hours of sleep, many travelers report some success with using floatation therapy to “reboot” their topsy-turvy sleep schedules.

So...how does it work? 

Sleep may be something we all do every night, but the science of how and why we sleep still holds many mysteries. However, one thing science does seem to agree on is that we all have a personal, interior set of sleep-regulating patterns referred to as “circadian rhythms.”

These rhythms are a complex set of deep-seated brain-wave patterns that govern when we sleep and how deeply. They can be affected by many things. Stress, diet, work schedules, habits, and - of course - travel all factor in to the maintenance (and/or disruption) of the circadian cycle.   

And when this happens, many jet-setters swear by floating as a means of helping to “nudge” their sleep cycles back into a workable state. 

Supermodel Elle MacPherson reportedly cites floating as the ideal way to keep herself in top runway-strutting shape no matter where she travels in the world. So does her friend and fellow model Jessica Hart, who touts tank time as a means of “resetting” her baseline sleep cycle, saying, “afterwards you feel super chilled and rejuvenated.”

Actress Naomie Harris agrees, having recently told Balance Magazine, ”I’ve discovered that the only way to combat the effects of traveling is to immerse myself in a dark pod, filled with salt water and float for an hour. It’s all about sensory deprivation and works a treat. I go straight there from the airport, but my dream is to have my own tank at home.”

Still not convinced? Health coach and wellness blogger Jenny Sansouci points to floating as the best way to beat the jet lag blahs, saying that “one of the most celebrated benefits of the float tank is getting deep, deep rest.”

“When I take a long international flight, I have a little jet lag trick that I use as often as possible: I book a session in a float tank immediately when I land at my destination. If I do a 60-90 minute float upon arrival, it always makes my body feel rested and rejuvenated from the long day (or days) of travel, and significantly reduces the recovery time I need to feel like myself again.”

Still need more? CNN recently listed floating as an effective jet lag therapy, alongside melatonin supplements, and Japanese water massage. They write:

“New treatments such as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), also known as isolation tanks or flotation therapy, could also provide some perks for frequent travelers due to its ability to recalibrate your internal clock. In Europe, REST flotation tanks have been a popular practice since the 1980s. They are used for relaxation, encouraging creativity, and treating problems such as anxiety, swelling, insomnia and jet lag.” 

Of course, none of this is to suggest that you NEED to have traveled recently in order to stop in to Float Milwaukee. Still trying to catch up on lost holiday sleep? Burning some midnight oil hours to make up for time off of work? Or are you still having a tough time adjusting to Daylight Saving Time messing with your schedule? Hey, we’ve got you covered. Just book a tank trip, and get the rest you need on a schedule.

And even if you’re headed out somewhere (as opposed to back home), we’d still suggest you find a float center upon arrival - especially if you’re traveling internationally. There are countless float centers around the world that would be more than happy to help you get your rest cycle back into shape, so you can better enjoy your trip.

And of course, the next time you step off a red-eye back home feeling a little bent up from dealing with cramped bathrooms, tight seats, and a stiff neck from fitful naps against the window, we’ll be happy to help you take a load off, and get back on your feet...fast.

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