Balanced, Cross Over, Single Blind Designed Trial to Assess Whether Melissa Essential Oil is an Effective Treatment for Insomnia for People with Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


IntroductionDisturbed sleep affects 50% of those with dementia. It is also highly prevalent in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Given the unwanted side effects noted with standard treatment hypnotics, and reports of successful interventions with aromatherapy, this study examines the sedative effects of melissa essential oil using objective and subjective measures. MethodFourteen male and female participants (65-85 years) with MCI or mild to moderate dementia and mild to moderate insomnia as screened by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, took part in this crossover design study with a balanced treatment order and minimum 2 day washout period, followed by blind analysis.Treatment was with 1 drop (0.29ml) of melissa oil administered to bed clothes at home over 2 nights by the partner or carer, compared to massage base oil (placebo) and included a no treatment control. Wrist actiwatches (CamNtech(R)) provided objective data whilst Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaires assessed sleep and residual side effects. ResultsThe significant differences (P<0.05) included an increase in mean actual sleep time with melissa compared to both the no treatment control (45min) and placebo (35min). No subjective, next day residual impairment was found although subjective sleep could not be reliably assessed.ConclusionMelissa was well tolerated and found to be a safe and beneficial treatment for mild to moderate sleep disturbance for community dwelling individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Date of Award18 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRoy Jones (Supervisor)


  • melissa essential oil, sleep, insomnia
  • dementia, mild cognitive impairment
  • aromatherapy

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