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.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 process after BZD washout. Example of this are: the decrease in Sleep Stage 2 and in sigma count; the increase in slow-wave sleep (SWS), and delta count, which were found to be altered by BZD ingestion. There was a significant decrease in wake time after sleep onset (WASO) in valerian subjects when compared to placebo subjects; results were similar to normal controls. Nonetheless, valerian-treated patients also presented longer sleep latency and increased alpha count in SWS than control subjects.The decrease in WASO associated with the mild anxiolytic effect of valerian appeared to be the major contributor to subjective sleep quality improvement found after 2-week of treatment in insomniacs who had withdrawn from BDZs. Despite subjective improvement, sleep data showed that valerian did not produce faster sleep onset; the increase in alpha count compared with normal controls may point to residual hyperarousabilty, which is known to play a role in insomnia. Nonetheless, we lack data on the extent to which a sedative drug can improve alpha sleep EEG. Thus, the authors suggest that valerian had a positive effect on withdrawal from BDZ use.
View details for Web of Science ID 000174698300017
View details for PubMedID 11999905