Can valerian improve the sleep of insomniacs after benzodiazepine withdrawal?
PURPOSE: The authors studied the sleep of patients with insomnia who complained of poor sleep despite chronic use of benzodiazepines (BZDs). The sample consisted of 19 patients (mean age 43.3+/-10.6 years) with primary insomnia (DSM-IV), who had taken BZDs nightly, for 7.1+/-5.4 years. The control group was composed of 18 healthy individuals (mean age 37+/-8 years). Sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) of the patients was analyzed with period amplitude analysis (PAA) and associated algorithms, during chronic BZD use (Night 1), and after 15 days of a valerian placebo trial (initiated after washout of BZD, Night 2). Sleep of control subjects was monitored in parallel. RESULTS: Valerian subjects reported significantly better subjective sleep quality than placebo ones, after BZD withdrawal, despite the presence of a few side effects. However, some of the differences found in sleep structure between Night 1 and Night 2 in both the valerian and placebo groups may be due to the sleep recovery pro