Sleep deprivation in hospitalized patients is common and can have serious detrimental effects on recovery from illness. Lavender aromatherapy has improved sleep in a variety of clinical settings, but the effect has not been tested in the intermediate care unit.


To determine the effect of inhalation of 100% lavender oil on patients’ vital signs and perceived quality of sleep in an intermediate care unit.


A randomized controlled pilot study was conducted in 50 patients. Control patients received usual care. The treatment group had 3 mL of 100% pure lavender oil in a glass jar in place at the bedside from 10 pm until 6 am. Vital signs were recorded at intervals throughout the night. At 6 am all patients completed the Richard Campbell Sleep Questionnaire to assess quality of sleep.


Blood pressure was significantly lower between midnight and 4 am in the treatment group than in the control group (P = .03) According to the overall mean change score in blood pressure between the baseline and 6 am measurements, the treatment group had a decrease in blood pressure and the control group had an increase; however, the difference between the 2 groups was not significant (P = .12). Mean overall sleep score was higher in the intervention group (48.25) than in the control group (40.10), but the difference was not significant.


Lavender aromatherapy may be an effective way to improve sleep in an intermediate care unit.

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