Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) is so prevalent in today’s culture that it’s almost become a throwaway reference—”She can’t sit through a whole movie ’cause she’s so ADD all the time” or “Oh, I can’t handle museums, I’m way too ADHD”.
This disorder has become shorthand for feeling overstimulated and unable to focus, but it’s a true disease—one that may affect up to 11% of American children and over 4% of adults. And in many circles, floatation therapy is becoming increasingly recognized as a supplemental treatment for ADHD/ADD.
When you consider the usual symptoms of ADHD, it seems like common sense that floating could help: individuals with ADHD can experience inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Floating can reduce stress, promote cognitive abilities like creativity and focus, and provides an instant break from overstimulation.
Unfortunately, little research has been conducted specifically on floating for ADHD; however, there a few existing case studies. Additionally, the benefits of floating do seem uniquely suited to alleviate many of the disorder’s most disruptive symptoms.
At Serene Dreams, we also have experienced the power of floating for ADHD/ADD firsthand. We have a few pre-teen and teen children who suffer from ADD or ADHD come and float with us on a semi-regular basis. Their parents are extremely grateful and have shared that in the following week after a session their children are more focused, easier to control, and less hyper; their teachers also report similar results when dealing with them after a recent float.
Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s the breakdown of the research & reasoning behind floating for ADHD:
Floating for ADHD Case Studies
Two primary case studies have been completed so far on the way floatation therapy can be used as a treatment for ADHD, both on young women.
In the first study(1), a 24-year-old Swedish woman diagnosed with ADHD participated in floatation therapy sessions on a regular basis for a year and a half. During interviews with researchers, it was concluded that floating helped provide the patient with significant enhanced quality of life, including sleep, self-esteem, socialability, and overall positive attitude.
During the second case study(2), a 36-year-old woman diagnosed with ADHD participated in float therapy sessions for a year. The researchers found that the patient experienced “positive development of arousal control, activity regulation, sensory integration and interpretation, cognitive functioning and emotional maturity”, which led to increased independence and a better quality of life. During interviews, the patient reported feeling less restless during her daily life, could focus more easily during reading and writing, and found emotional relief. She describes “I have gained this inner calm so that I can accept myself the way I am.?”
While case studies have their limits in the world of academic research, these two point to the huge potential floating may have for ADHD sufferers—and the authors of each strongly recommend more studies should be done, as their participants experienced great relief from floating.
Floating, Sleep, & ADHD
Both children and adults with ADHD tend to struggle with sleep(3), especially with insomnia and restless sleep…while many believe that children with ADHD need even more sleep than children without the disorder. Floating may help—studies have shown that floatation therapy can treat insomnia and improve overall quality of sleep(4).
Floating, Magnesium, & ADHD
Studies have shown that individuals with ADHD are likely to be deficient in a few specific nutrients, including magnesium…and that supplementing magnesium can lead to a decrease in hyperactivity symptoms(5). In a float tank, the water is saturated with magnesium-rich Epsom salts, so in addition to experiencing relaxation, individuals may experience the added bonus of absorbing additional magnesium through the skin.
Floating, Overstimulation, & ADHD
There’s a complicated relationship between children and adults with ADHD and electronics; many doctors recommend limiting screen time and video games for those who struggle with ADHD. The float tank is a place that’s tailor-made for unplugging, and while it might be a challenge at first to experience such quiet and lack of stimulation, the case studies mentioned above suggest that individuals with ADHD find a unique sense of calm during floatation that is hard to achieve in daily life.
If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD/ADD, spending time in the true peace and quiet of a float tank may help. Book a float online today, or check out our monthly and annual membership options to get the best pricing for a regular float routine.
1. Quality of life with flotation therapy for a person diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, atypical autism, PTSD, anxiety and depression. Anette Kjellgren, Hanna Edebol, Tommy Nordén, Torsten Norlander. Open Journal of Medical Psychology, 2013.
2. Enhanced independence and quality of life through treatment with flotation-Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique of a patient with both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Aspergers Syndrome: a case report. Hanna Edebol, Anette Kjellgren, Sven-Åke Bood and Torsten Norlander. Cases Journal, 2009.
3. The ADHD and sleep conundrum: a review. Judith A. Owens. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, June 2005.
4. The use of floatation rest in the treatment of persistent psychophysiological insomnia. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project, 1989
5. The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. B. Starobrat-Hermelin, T. Kozielec. Magnesium Research, June 1997.