Effect of lavender aromatherapy on vital signs and perceived quality of sleep in the intermediate care unit: a pilot study

Am J Crit Care. 2014 Jan;23(1):24-9. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2014958.


Background: 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.

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

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

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

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aromatherapy*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lavandula
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Patient Care / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Sleep Deprivation / therapy


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil