Most humans require 9 – 10 hours of sleep for optimal health, according to sleep research James Maas, PhD. Very few people in our fast-paced culture sleep anywhere close to 9 hours.
What can you do to improve sleep?
A recent study suggests lavender essential oil improves the quality of sleep.
Seventy-nine college students who reported having sleep issues participated in this double blind intervention study. All seventy-nine students were coached on good sleep hygiene. For five nights one group wore a patch with 55 μl of lavender essential oil and the other group wore a blank patch.
Sleep quantity was measured using a Fitbit(®) tracker and a sleep diary.
Sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the NIH Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) sleep disturbance short form.
Two weeks after wearing the patches, the lavender and sleep hygiene group demonstrated better sleep quality and woke feeling refreshed. The sleep hygeine-only group also had better quality sleep, but to a lesser extent than the lavender group. Sleep quantity did not differ between the two groups.
Lavender and sleep hygiene together improved sleep quality for college students with self-reported sleep issues more than improved sleep hygiene alone. Using the lavender for five days had lasting effects, i.e. the improvement continued two weeks after the students stopped using the lavender essential oil.
Lillehei AS1, Halcón LL, et al. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jul;21(7):430-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0327. Epub 2015 Jun 2.
For more information on natural medicines: The Green Medicine Chest book AND The Green Medicine Chest Training are excellent resources.