Insider's Guide to Spas
Tara Grodjesk

Timeless Truths of Spa: Sleep

Tara Grodjesk Talks Sleep Solutions

Mary Bemis

The topic of sleep continues to make headlines, and more and more spas are adding targeted treatments to their menus to help consumers chill out and get a better night’s rest. But there’s one spa pro I know who has been addressing sleep issues through spa protocols for nearly ten years. I sat down with Tara Grodjesk, founder of Tara Spa Therapy and a founding board member of the Green Spa Network, to talk shop.

Sleep programs and treatments at the spa are on the rise, yet, I know that you’ve been creating protocols around this for some time. When did you first launch your Sleep Solutions products—and why?

I’ve been offering Sleep Solutions, one of my Wellness Solutions programs, for at least eight years—both in treatments and through home spa products. Over 17 million Americans suffer from sleep-related disorders and spas have an opportunity to provide their guests with products and services that help to induce deep rest and a good night’s sleep. Yes, massages are relaxing, but if we can enhance the massage with therapeutic essential oils that are known to encourage deep rest then we are able to provide a more wellness-focused approach to spa treatments. And my Sleep Solution is a treatment-to-home spa approach, so there is a small collection of products that support deep rest and sleep that can be used after the massage, to continue the benefits and incorporate into daily rituals.

Yes, massages are relaxing, but if we can enhance the massage with therapeutic essential oils that are known to encourage deep rest then we are able to provide a more wellness-focused approach to spa treatments.

I have always taken a wellness approach to spa services, and I wanted programs that really support health, balance, and wellness. We know now from all the research that sleep is critical to our weight balance, nervous system resilience, brain function, and overall wellbeing.

Why do you think it has taken spas so long to catch on?

Because spas have been more focused on esthetics services that address the condition of the skin—to exfoliate, hydrate, and nourish the skin so that it will be smooth soft and radiant, etc.—and massages have been focused on general stress relief and sport or deep tissue modalities.

Spas are now embracing authentically therapeutic wellness approaches. And treatment experiences can be created that support deep rest in a very profound way that will allow the central nervous system to shift from “fight or flight” to restoration and recovery mode. This is a very powerful shift in healing the whole being and restoring optimal performance of all vital organ functions, via changes in neurotransmission from the brain to the rest of the body.

Do you have a sleep ritual, or tips that you practice?

There is nothing more therapeutic than a bath soak using minerals and essential oils and herbal extracts that act like mild tranquilizers (our Restful Sleep bath salts, for example). After a soak, I massage my Relaxing oil onto my whole body and apply Restful Sleep Roll-on Remedy to temples, forehead, and pulse points. I lie down and place my eye pillow over my eyes to reduce light stimulation and to relax my computer-weary eyes. Then I focus on breath awareness and practice shivasana (corpse pose) from yoga. This is a special ritual that helps to unwind the overstimulated nervous system and begins to quiet the mind.

The main objective is to slow down the reaction of the nervous system so that we are not in defense mode, but are feeling safe to let down the defenses. I personally avoid caffeine, overstimulation from the internet and smart phone activity, and practice unplugging in the evening.


Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.