Scientific Reports (2021-01-01)

A pilot study on essential oil aroma stimulation for enhancing slow-wave EEG in sleeping brain

  • Li-Wei Ko,
  • Cheng-Hua Su,
  • Meng-Hsun Yang,
  • Shen-Yi Liu,
  • Tung-Ping Su

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 1 – 11


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Abstract Sleep quality is important to health and life quality. Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health issues and reduce in daytime function. Recent study by Fultz et al. also indicated that sleep is crucial to brain metabolism. Delta power in sleep EEG often indicates good sleep quality while alpha power usually indicates sleep interruptions and poor sleep quality. Essential oil has been speculated to improve sleep quality. Previous studies also suggest essential oil aroma may affect human brain activity when applied awake. However, those studies were often not blinded, which makes the effectiveness and mechanism of aroma a heavily debated topic. In this study, we aim to explore the effect of essential oil aroma on human sleep quality and sleep EEG in a single-blinded setup. The aroma was released when the participants are asleep, which kept the influence of psychological expectation to the minimum. We recruited nine young, healthy participants with regular lifestyle and no sleep problem. All participants reported better sleep quality and more daytime vigorous after exposing to lavender aroma in sleep. We also observed that upon lavender aroma releases, alpha wave in wake stage was reduced while delta wave in slow-wave sleep (SWS) was increased. Lastly, we found that lavender oil promote occurrence of SWS. Overall, our study results show that essential oil aroma can be used to promote both subjective and objective sleep quality in healthy human subjects. This makes aroma intervention a potential solution for poor sleep quality and insomnia.