Can Float Tanks Mimic Psychedelics Like Psilocybin?

You don't need psychedelic drugs to start seeing colors and objects that aren't really there.

Have you just recently heard about the use of float tanks as an intriguing and effective new therapy method called sensory deprivation? If so, then you may be surprised to hear that this isn’t a new method at all, rather float tanks have been around since 1954 as a way to study things such as dolphin communication, consciousness, and the effect of psychedelic drugs on a person.

The idea is that you float in a giant tank that contains at least 10 inches worth of salt water, and all your external stimuli are taken away. The temperature outside the tank is set to your skin temperature, which is done to help deprive your senses. A person wears earplugs and the room is kept very dark, and the end result is a rather unique experience to put it lightly. So, then the question becomes, are these float tanks actually able to mimic psychedelics like psilocybin? Let’s examine the question closer.

What are These Sensory Deprivation Tanks?

As mentioned, float tanks aren’t new, but they are enjoying a rather large amount of popularity at the moment. As soon as people hear you are floating in warm salt water in a dark room, one of the first questions that comes to mind is “are float tanks sanitary”? Are you just floating in the same warm bath-like water as the person before you, where bacteria and germs are sure to grow?

Obviously, each establishment will be different, but this is where the responsibility lays on you to ensure that the tank is sanitary. Some will use a magnetic drive filtration pump in order to clean the water and the room in general. UV lights can also be used to disinfect and clean the room so each person has a sanitary experience.

The Psychedelic Experience

Now as for how it can mimic psychedelics like psilocybin found in shrooms, all you have to do is look back to the creation and purpose of the float tank in the first place. When John C. Lilly, a psychoanalyst, neuroscientist, physician, psychonaut, philosopher, and writer from the United States developed the float tank, part of the reason was to examine how psychedelic drugs affect the nature of consciousness.

When a person uses a small amount of shrooms, it will already start to alter their mind and relax it. Larger quantities can totally alter their sense of sound, vision, and perception. These are the same sort of results that can happen during a float tank session.

So how long does psilocybin stay in your system? Typically, it lasts anywhere from three to six hours, but can last up to 24 hours in total. With a float session, the experts recommend that you give yourself about an hour of quiet and downtime following it, since you can feel a bit disoriented or off. So even though you can mimic that sensation while in the float tank, you won’t have it lingering in your system as long.

Convinced You Want to Give it a Try?

If your curiosity has now peaked and you’re convinced you want to give it a try, there are some sensory deprivation tank tips that you can use to ensure your session is successful.

  • Eat one to two hours before your session, but just a small meal
  • Do not wax or shave beforehand
  • Do not drink caffeine before you go in
  • Remove contact lenses if applicable
  • Use the restroom before
  • Shower before entering the tank
  • Expect to be in there for about 60 minutes
  • You can float naked if it helps you to relax
  • Give yourself downtime after so that you can relax

So, while float tanks themselves aren’t new, there are certainly plenty of reasons they have been around as long as they have, and why they are enjoying sudden popularity.