ESSENTIAL TO HEALTH AND WELLNESS, SLEEP is often taken for granted by those who drift off the moment their heads hit their pillows and slumber peacefully through the night. For millions of Americans, however, it is a frustrating struggle that can affect both physical and mental capabilities. According to the World Health Organization, "Inadequate rest impairs the ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system, and moderate emotions." With sleep playing such a vital role in overall health and well-being and so many people experiencing trouble getting adequate shut-eye, it should come as no surprise that many spas are introducing various sleep therapies to help spa-goers overcome their sleep issues.
"Sleep disturbances are the number-one health problem in the U.S. today," says Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., director of sleep programs at Miraval (Carefree, AZ). "Although most spas generally emphasize relaxation programs, they fail to meaningfully address the key role of sleep. In the end, the quality of our daily waking lives depends on the quality of our nightly sleep." With that in mind, Miraval has created an optimal sleep environment in which sleepless spa-goers can be evaluated and treated. An inviting setting in which to doze off, the Natural Sleep Lab features an all-natural and organic bed, noise attenuation, air filtration, light management, and other sleep-promoting products. Considered a pioneer in integrative sleep and dream medicine, Naiman oversees the lab, which is just part of Miraval's multifaceted sleep programs.
"The basic philosophy behind Miraval's sleep programs is the same philosophy that underpins the entire Miraval experience," says Naiman. "It is the philosophy of mindfulness—a belief that cultivating awareness enhances our personal sense of health and happiness." Incorporating that way of thinking, Healing Sleep and Dreams is a 90-minute group presentation that helps guests understand what may be preventing them from getting a good night's rest.
Sleep-deprived spa-goers can also opt for a variety of individual sleep consultations (50 or 80 minutes). Especially helpful is the Sleep Assessment & Recommendations consultation, which tackles a range of sleep concerns, such as insomnia, the use of sleeping pills, and unexplained daytime sleepiness. Guests can schedule follow-up telephone sessions upon returning home, if needed. A consultation is also available for those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which the afflicted person stops breathing while asleep. Guests are first evaluated using a sleep strip sensor that monitors their breathing patterns throughout the night. They're then given recommendations for addressing the problem. For stressed-out insomniacs, there's Biofeedback Sleep Induction, a session utilizing biofeedback and guided imagery to assess how an individual falls asleep and guidance in surrendering to sleep. Dream Assessment & Interpretation is ideal for those concerned about nightmares or curious about unusual dream experiences.
According to Naiman, approximately 100 guests participate each month in Miraval's individual and group sleep services. Garnering a positive response from participants, Naiman plans to expand the spa's sleep services to broaden its focus and support a greater number of guests.
At Mayflower Spa (Washington, CT), sleepless spa-goers can take advantage of the Deep Focus Program, which is designed to teach guests better sleep habits and techniques. Stress Management, Nutrition, Hypnotherapy, Dream Analysis, Sleep Yoga, and Sweet Surrender massage are just some components of the program. Guests are also given an MP3 player loaded with sleep-inducing programming. According to spa director Helen Brown, the program was an important offering from the get-go. "We noticed that a large number of the people we spoke with as part of our research prior to opening the spa had sleep issues, so we wanted to make sure that we were able to offer guests a variety of tools to try out while they were here," says Brown. "We wanted to include simple suggestions that could be immediately incorporated by anyone, as well as lesser-known services like Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy, Sound Therapy, and our specially created Mayflower Sweet Surrender treatment."
At Chiva-Som International Health Resort (Hua Hin, Thailand), it was only natural to offer a sleep program. "We were noticing in the initial health consultation that an increasing number of guests were answering in the affirmative to experiencing sleep disorders of some description," says Sue Davis, health and vitality development manager. "Guests were regularly quoting sleeping times of four to five hours of broken sleep versus a much needed seven to nine hours. With the negative impact this has on our guests, we felt it was important to help them overcome their sleep disorders with a program of mixed modalities suited to the individual."
Floatation Therapy using a sensory deprivation flotation chamber is one method Chiva-Som uses to treat insomnia. "Floating in the tank for a minimum of forty minutes is equal to at least four hours of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep time," says Davis. Herbal therapy is another option, with valerian being the most commonly used herb of choice for insomnia. The spa's naturopaths may also prescribe passionflower, lemon balm, skullcap, lavender, and hops to be used in combination with valerian. Other recommended therapies include Ayurveda, massage, energy healing, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Because a good night's rest plays such a key role in anti-aging, Chiva-Som's anti-aging programs include a look at the dangers of sleeping pills and the importance of establishing good bedtime habits. Hormone deficiencies, which can contribute to insomnia, are also considered. According to Davis, approximately 35 percent of guests each month seek help for their sleep-related disorders.
Although sleep programming is in line with the overall mission of destination spas to encourage healthy habits and positive lifestyle changes, resort and hotel spas are also introducing inventive packages that speak to the topic. For instance, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island (FL) recently launched a spa turndown service to encourage pleasant dreams. The Cloud Nine Slumber Therapy ($235, 45 minutes) includes an in-room reflexology treatment, which is performed to the sounds of a soothing CD. Guests are provided with an eye mask to promote relaxation and are invited to take the CD and eye mask home with them. As an added bonus, they also receive a $20 gift certificate that can be used toward purchases of $100 and more at the Spa Boutique. For those who want more, there is the Cloud Nine Slumber Therapy Deluxe ($470, 60 minutes). In addition to the reflexology treatment, it includes a scalp massage as well as a second therapist who acts as a bath butler, drawing an aromatherapy bath and lighting candles to create the perfect setting in which to wind down after a long day.
At The Fairmont Washington, D.C., guests can sleep easy with the Dream Green package ($269 for single or double occupancy), which includes accommodations, an organic sleep smoothie, lavender cookies, and a complimentary CD of slumber-inspiring music from Sleep Garden. Available Thursday through Sunday, the package offers the promise of a soothing night's sleep in a luxe hotel committed to protecting the planet. "Environmental stewardship is an important part of Fairmont's culture," says general manager George Terpilowski. "Pairing initiatives with the sleep experience seemed like a natural for us. This way we are promoting relevant movements within our industry—improving sleep and the promotion of sustainability." The hotel recently introduced a Sleep Concierge and Sleep Menu, which includes a variety of snooze-inducing goodies, such as an in-room Neck Massage (15 minutes), an in-room Yoga Sleep Class (30 minutes), bath amenities, and a sleep smoothie with lavender cookies. Menu items range from $8 to $30.
Not exclusive to destination and resort spas, sleep-related treatments are even showing up on menus of various day spas. Suddenly Slimmer Wellness Center & Day Spa (Phoenix) offers both Acupuncture for Sleep Improvement ($125, 80 minutes for initial visit; $95, 60 minutes) and Meditation for Deep Sleep ($165, 60 minutes). The spa also promotes its Indian Head Massage ($90, 50 minutes; $145, 80 minutes) as an ideal treatment for inducing a good night's sleep.
As further evidence of the growing interest in sleep-related programming, spa-like facilities promoting rest and relaxation with a variety of do-it-yourself options, such as Retreat Self-Care (Glendale, CA) and Yelo (New York City), are opening across the country. Complete with private napping pods and Zero-Gravity Chairs, these siesta-promoting destinations even offer memberships to soothe stressed-out urbanites.
Introducing sleep-inducing treatments or rituals to your menu is part and parcel with the well-being spas espouse. Just as your clients shouldn't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep, neither should you underestimate the benefits of helping them get it. It's certainly a great way to add a new element to your treatment menu. Tara Grodjesk, president of Tara Spa Therapy, suggests adding oils that encourage relaxation to an aromatherapy massage or introducing a treatment focused on sleep therapy that is multi-sensory and includes aromatherapy, massage, a bath, music, and a homeopathic remedy. "We take very basic services and give them a new twist by giving them a focus or intention," says Grodjesk. "For spas, it doesn't necessarily require a new protocol or training but rather choosing products specifically formulated for sleep remedy." With so many exhausted spa-goers out there, today's host of sleep-enhancing treatments are guaranteed to ensure sweet dreams.