Sleep spas could fuel further growth

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sleep spas are popping up around the country, but unlike the oxygen bars of the 1990s, they may offer benefits for the sleep deprived and spur further growth in the sleep market.
Millennium Research Group (MRG) released a study in March of the U.S. market for respiratory and sleep management devices and noted an increase in the number of spas offering relaxation treatments for sleep problems like insomnia.
"If you're going to a spa program and you think something might be wrong, perhaps you will seek (sleep) treatment," said April Chan, an analyst with the Toronto-based MRG. "For those with mild sleep disorders, going to a resort might be the better sleep treatment than going to a full sleep clinic."
Spa-goers in need of a good night's rest can search to search for sleep-health management programs. The famed Canyon Ranch Spa, for example, offers a Sleep Enhancement/Insomnia Relief package on its Web site.
But sleep providers remain skeptical that relaxation therapy offered alongside Botox and acupuncture is a good idea.
"These spas are catering to a niche," said Fernando DaSilva, northeast sales and marketing for Woburn, Mass.-based Total Sleep Therapies. "They are trying to create this kind of aromatherapy approach. I have yet to hear of any type of actual testing being conducted."
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that approximately 40 million people suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Sleep diagnostics is a fast-growing market, projected to surpass $165 million in 2011, according to the MRG report.
Spas wouldn't take the place of traditional sleep labs. But by offering clients the chance to learn about healthy sleep habits, those with more serious sleep disordered breathing could seek further treatment, fueling growth in the sleep market, said Chan.
Anything that spreads the word on sleep is good, say industry leaders, especially if it appeals to baby boomers with extra income and a willingness to take care of themselves.
"Baby boomers are the ideal market," said Helen Kent, president of Progressive Medical in Carlsbad, Calif. "People go on sleep therapy, lose weight and start taking care of themselves. With a spa, you could push it further."
At any rate, sleep labs can probably rest easy that places like Canyon Ranch will not offer serious competition, said DaSilva. They would most likely be scared off by the logistics.
"Once they realized what they would have to do to provide a sleep test, it would no longer make it an attractive option," he said. "It would change the identification of what they are doing."