Crocus sativus L. (saffron) has been traditionally used for the treatment of insomnia and other diseases of the nervous systems. Two carotenoid pigments, crocin and crocetin, are the major components responsible for the various pharmacological activities of C. sativus L. In this study, we examined the sleep-promoting activity of crocin and crocetin by monitoring the locomotor activity and electroencephalogram after administration of these components to mice. Crocin (30 and 100 mg/kg) increased the total time of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep by 60 and 170%, respectively, during a 4-h period from 20:00 to 24:00 after its intraperitoneal administration at a lights-off time of 20:00. Crocetin (100 mg/kg) also increased the total time of non-REM sleep by 50% after the administration. These compounds did not change the amount of REM sleep or show any adverse effects, such as rebound insomnia, after the induction of sleep.
© 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.