Summary of “Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis”

In Research by Estelle Carr

A meta-analysis of 27 studies covering REST was published in 2005 by Dierendonck and Nijenhuis to evaluate the effects of flotation REST as a stress-management tool and focused on three aspects:

  1. The first aspect was complementing positive outcomes of other relaxation techniques through lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.
  2. The second aspect was the effects on reduction of heightened emotions through the profound muscle relaxation and reduction of heart rate.
  3. The third aspect was the positive effect on physical performance through the stabilization of sympathetic (emotional) arousal. The central aim of this meta-analysis was to investigate the extent to which flotation REST could be useful as a stress-management tool.

The results showed that REST has positive effects on outcomes relating to physiology (such as heart rate and cortisol levels), well-being (your overall sense of wellness), and performance. Flotation REST appeared to be more effective than other stress reduction techniques which included relaxation exercises and biofeedback. The enhanced effects of REST on well-being found in the long-term studies suggest that the effects of REST become stronger through repeated events, which indicate that the beneficial effects remain after the REST session has ended (Dierendonck and Nijenhuis, 2005).

According to Dierendonck and Nijenhuis, 2005, the findings suggest that flotation REST is a valuable alternative to other stress-management techniques. It has relaxing, mood-, and performance-enhancing, effects that seem to be more profound than those of other relaxation techniques. In the realm of emotional burnout and chronic fatigue, flotation REST has great practical use due to the lowering of cortisol levels connected with fatigue and stress.

Dierendonck, D.V., and Nijenhuis, J. T. (2005). Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Health 20(3): 403-412. Taylor and Francis.