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Tired? Maybe It's Time to Try REST
“Feeling stressed? Have back pain? Struggling with insomnia?” Mashable’s Kathleen Wong asks in this recent feature. Do these questions make you want to yell a desperate, energy-drained yes? Well, consider this new trend in meditative sleep: sensory deprivation pods. These futuristic sleeping vessels, deemed adult-sized wombs, cater to very adult-sized city-dwelling sleep deprivation. “Try lying naked and face-up in a pitch-black tank of water at a temperature that matches your own skin—about 94 degrees Fahrenheit. You see nothing. You hear nothing. You might feel nothing,” Wong writes. It’s an enticing proposition, straight out of a utopian sci-fi story where everyone is well rested and devoid of the physical signs of exhaustion.
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But, the technology behind these pods isn’t from the future. Restricted environmental stimulation technique (conveniently acronym-ed “REST”) has been available since the 50’s. But, it seems, we were all just too busy to pay attention. Thanks to celebrity endorsements from Fear Factor host Joe Rogan and former UFC fighter Pat Healy, REST is again gaining attention. If the promise of a restful hour or eight isn’t enough to convert you to the REST-ful mentality, the experience has also been associated with a decrease in depression and anxiety, as well as boosted creativity, reports Wong. And thanks to high levels of Epsom salt in the body-temperature regulated water, which apparently reduces blood lactate levels, some pod enthusiasts have reported an improvement in muscle pain.
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The science behind why these sleep-inducing pods work is still uncertain. But, most theories and what research is out there points to the pod’s simulation of the experience of being asleep. For some, even just an hour of using the pod is enough to satisfy their craving for rest. For others, a full eight hours of meditative sleep has become not just a habit, but a full-blown addiction.
Christina Pistone, the owner of a REST spa in New York called Vibrant Sea, told Wong that her patrons frequent the location anywhere from once a week to once a month. And, with hopes that REST will soon become much more than a mere trend, the “float community” predicts expansion and an ever-growing hoard of tired, sleep-seeking converts. “Look out: one of these adult-sized womb chambers might just be coming to a spa near you,” Wong warns. In New York, the threat of an abundance of relaxing, sleep-inducing pods sounds like an all-too-wonderful dystopia.