April 30, 2023
Insomnia, a condition that affects 6-20% of the population in different countries, refers to the disturbance of sleep onset, maintenance, or quality. Unlike primary insomnia, secondary insomnia is a sleep disorder caused by underlying medical, neurological, or psychiatric conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, including depression, Parkinson’s disease (PD, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia. The behavioral disturbances in dementia patients include insomnia, general tiredness, lethargy, irritability, and concentration or memory problems. The two most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, characterized by a general loss of neurotransmitters.
Hypnotic drugs such as benzodiazepine are used to manage insomnia. However, prolonged use of these drugs may lead to drug dependence, tolerance, bad sleep, rebound insomnia, deterioration in recognition function, and reduced effect. However, alternative remedies are being employed to overcome these challenges. In aromatherapy, kava-kava, valerian, chamomile, ylang-ylang, melissa, hops, and lavender oils are being used to improve sleep. These oils have mild sleep-inducing effects without negative changes and a low rate of side effects. Hypnotic drugs like benzodiazepines are used as a short-term therapy, whereas EOs can be used for an extended period.
A clinical study evaluated the effects of valerian, lavender, and Roman chamomile essential oil (25.9% 3-methylpentyl angelate) on neurotransmitters levels in people with dementia. Each oil was massaged on the participants diluted to 3% in jojoba oil. Lavender significantly decreased urinary free cortisol (a sign of decreased stress), valerian significantly increased serum serotonin (supports mood and healthy sleep patterns), and Roman chamomile significantly increased urinary norepinephrine (involved in healthy sleep-wake cycles). Valerian also promoted better quality sleep. Based on the results, the researchers evaluated three separate blends of the three oils (also at 3% in jojoba). The highest levels of serotonin were achieved with a 2:2:1 blend of valerian, lavender, and Roman chamomile.
To follow this study, add 5 drops each of valerian and lavender, and 3 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil to a roller bottle and fill the rest of the bottle with carrier oil (jojoba was used in the study). Roll this blend onto the chest and bottoms of the feet 15-30 minutes before going to bed.