Evaluating effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep in children with autism: a pilot study
Williams, T. I. (2006) Evaluating effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep in children with autism: a pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 3 (3). pp. 373-377. ISSN 1741-427X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1093/ecam/nel017
Previous studies have found beneficial effects of aromatherapy massage for agitation in people with dementia, for pain relief and for poor sleep. Children with autism often have sleep difficulties, and it was thought that aromatherapy massage might enable more rapid sleep onset, less sleep disruption and longer sleep duration. Twelve children with autism and learning difficulties (2 girls and 10 boys aged between 12 years 2 months to 15 years 7 months) in a residential school participated in a within subjects repeated measures design: 3 nights when the children were given aromatherapy massage with lavender oil were compared with 14 nights when it was not given. The children were checked every 30 min throughout the night to determine the time taken for the children to settle to sleep, the number of awakenings and the sleep duration. One boy's data were not analyzed owing to lengthy absence. Repeated measures analysis revealed no differences in any of the sleep measures between the nights when the children were given aromatherapy massage and nights when the children were not given aromatherapy massage. The results suggest that the use of aromatherapy massage with lavender oil has no beneficial effect on the sleep patterns of children with autism attending a residential school. It is possible that there are greater effects in the home environment or with longer-term interventions.
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