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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 740813, 8 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Autonomic Nervous System in Midlife Women with Insomnia

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
3National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Taipei, Taiwan
4Graduate Institute of Integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, No. 365 Ming-De Road, Beitou, Taipei 11211, Taiwan

Received 29 December 2010; Accepted 6 June 2011

Academic Editor: Adair Roberto Soares Santos

Copyright © 2012 Li-Wei Chien et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The objective of this study is to determine the effects of 12 weeks of lavender aromatherapy on self-reported sleep and heart rate variability (HRV) in the midlife women with insomnia. Sixty-seven women aged 45–55 years, with a CPSQI (Chinese version of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) greater than 5, were recruited from communities in Taiwan. The experimental group ( 𝑛 = 3 4 ) received lavender inhalation, 20 min each time, twice per week, for 12 weeks, with a total of 24 times. The control group ( 𝑛 = 3 3 ) received health education program for sleep hygiene with no intervention. The study of HRV was analyzed by time- and frequency-domain methods. Significant decrease in mean heart rate (HR) and increases in SDNN (standard deviation of the normal-to-normal (NN) intervals), RMSDD (square root of the mean squared differences of successive NN intervals), and HF (high frequency) of spectral powers analysis after lavender inhalation were observed in the 4th and 12th weeks of aromatherapy. The total CPSQI score of study subjects was significantly decreased in the experimental group ( 𝑃 < 0 . 0 0 1 ), while no significant difference was observed across the same time period ( 𝑃 = 0 . 7 7 6 ) in the control group. Resting HR and HRV measurements at baseline 1 month and 3 months after allocation showed no significant difference between the experimental and control groups. The study demonstrated that lavender inhalation may have a persistent short-term effect on HRV with an increase in parasympathetic modulation. Women receiving aromatherapy experienced a significant improvement in sleep quality after intervention. However, lavender aromatherapy does not appear to confer benefit on HRV in the long-term followup.