With such a wide range of possibilities for rest and rejuvenation, the sauna and the float tank are two popular alternatives. Saunas have been used in many different cultures for thousands of years and have a deep historical background. In contrast, float therapy is an emerging field that has seen significant growth in recent years. There are some key differences between sauna and float therapy that can help you decide which one is best for you.

In the following guide, I’ll go over what sauna and float therapy are, compare the benefits, and then look at what makes them different.

What is a Sauna?

Typically, a wood stove or electric heater is used to achieve the high temperatures found in a sauna. Sweating, which is said to have many health benefits, is induced by heat, steam, or infrared light.

The Finnish, Russian, and Turkish sauna traditions each date back thousands of years. For instance, in Finland, saunas play an integral role in daily life and are revered as a sacred spaces for rest and rejuvenation. In addition to the health benefits of sauna use, many cultures also use them as a place for socializing and unwinding.

What is Float Therapy?

John C. Lilly, a neuroscientist, created the first float tank in the 1950s. Lilly built the first isolation tank to investigate the impact of sensory deprivation on the brain. Since then, float therapy, or sensory deprivation therapy, has become widely used to alleviate stress and mental health issues like depression and chronic pain.

Float therapy consists of doing nothing more than floating in a tank of salt water. The tanks are made to be completely dark and devoid of any outside noise or light. When the water is heated to body temperature, it’s like floating weightlessly in space. It’s practiced to provide a tranquil setting for mental and physical rejuvenation.

Comparing the Benefits

BenefitsSaunaFloat Therapy
Improved CirculationYesNo
Improved Skin HealthYesNo
Improved SleepYesYes
Increased CreativityNoYes
Pain ReliefYesYes
Better Mental HealthNoYes

Differences Between Sauna and Float Therapy

While both saunas and float therapy have their benefits, there are some key differences between the two. Here are a few things to consider when choosing between sauna and float therapy:

  • Heat vs. sensory deprivation: Saunas rely on heat and steam to create a relaxing environment, while float therapy relies on sensory deprivation to achieve the same effect. If you don’t like the feeling of being in a hot, steamy environment, float therapy may be a better choice for you.
  • Physical vs. mental benefits: Saunas are known for their physical benefits, such as detoxification and improved circulation, while float therapy is known for its mental health benefits, such as reduced anxiety and improved sleep.
  • Time commitment: Saunas typically require a shorter time commitment than float therapy. A typical sauna session can last anywhere from 10-30 minutes, while a float therapy session can last up to 90 minutes.
  • Price: Saunas are generally less expensive than float therapy, as float therapy requires a specialized tank and other equipment. You can buy a home sauna for less than $2,000.


Ultimately, the choice between sauna and float therapy comes down to personal preference and what you are looking to get out of the experience. Both options offer a relaxing, rejuvenating experience that can improve your overall health and well-being. Consider trying both options to see which one resonates with you more.