Lavender essential oil improved sleep in residents of a memory care assisted living facility [poster]
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Background: People with dementia often have problems with sleep including difficulties falling and staying asleep. Aromatherapy is a form of complementary medicine that uses fragrant oils extracted and distilled from plant material, known as essential oils, for altering mood or behavioral health. There is limited evidence that the use of lavender oil can improve sleep and behavioral symptoms in people with memory loss. The purpose of this study was to determine if lavender can be an effective tool to manage sleep disruption in patients residing in a memory care assisted living facility. Methods: Twenty-two residents from memory care units in the Deer Crest assisted living facility (Red Wing, MN) were enrolled in this blinded, randomized-controlled cross-over trial of lavender oil versus placebo oil. Results: The average participant was 85.7 yr, 29% male, with a Montreal Cognitive Assessment score of 7.0. As expected, there was considerable variation in sleeping patterns across subjects. The total minutes of sleep per night with placebo oil was 408 minutes (sd=86). This significantly increased (p=.01) by 41 minutes (95% CI: 44.7, 38.35) during the week they received lavender. There was not a significant effect of time or the order in which oils were applied. Conclusions: The use of lavender shows promise as a non-pharmacologic alternative for management of sleep disturbance in people with memory loss.