ARG-027

An ancient, traditional remedy for insomnia—the scent of lavender flowers—has now been proved effective. In a recent study, 30 volunteers with chronic insomnia slept each night for three weeks on lavender-scented pillows in a controlled room where their sleep was monitored electronically. During the first week, volunteers continued to take their usual sleeping medication. They slept soundly but wakened feeling tired. At the beginning of the second week, the volunteers discontinued their sleeping medication. During that week, they slept less soundly than the previous week and felt even more tired. During the third week, the volunteers slept longer and more soundly than in the previous two weeks. Therefore, the study proves that lavender cures insomnia within a short period of time.


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


In this passage, the author draws a conclusion that lavender scent could cure insomnia in a short period of time based on a recent study. In this study, volunteers with chronic insomnia were exposed to the scent of lavender from lavender-scented pillows and their sleep quality monitored. However, several key points related to this argument are still not verified. Therefore, more evidence is needed to evaluate the validity of the author’s conclusion.


First, while the author cited that the participants have had better sleeping qualities, which is measured by sleeping time and soundness. However, whether one can link sleeping quality to insomnia, defined as the inability to fall asleep, is questionable. For instance, participants may have much better sleeping quality, but still have troubles getting into sleep. Here, data directly documenting the time volunteers spent to fall asleep is needed. If they are still under the effect of insomnia despite being exposed to the scent of lavender, the author’s conclusion would seem untenable. On the other hand, data showing volunteers spending less time going into sleep will strongly strengthen the author’s conclusion.


In addition, even if insomnia and sleeping quality are directly related, the author does not provide enough information about whether these participants were truly cured by lavender scent. If participants went back to their original state of sleeping soon after the study, then it would be hard to prove that insomnia was successfully cured. In contrary, if participants could keep their sleeping status long after the study, the author’s conclusion will be more tenable. However, granted that all participants were indeed cured, would other factors such as better pillows or the absolute quietness of the room be the true reason of cure? A parallel study hence would be very helpful, in which a control group is subject to the same conditions all but the scent of lavender. If in the control group participants’ insomnia is cured as well, then the author’s point will be strongly weakened.


Finally, because what the author states is that the lavender scent cures insomnia and the experiment volunteers all suffered from chronic insomnia, we need more information about whether the lavender scent could be applied to other kinds of insomnia. It could be the case that chronic insomnia has a very different pathological nature from other insomnia types. In order to solve this uncertainty, a study of lavender scent’s effectiveness in different kinds of insomnia patients may be desirable. Through such studies, we could evaluate the applicability of lavender scent: if lavender scent proves effective for all types of insomnias, the author’s conclusion will be more convincing. If the result shows otherwise, the author’s conclusion would be flawed.


In conclusion, although the study shows that lavender scent could ostensibly be a cure for chronic insomnia assuming the sleep quality can truly reflect the extent of insomnia, the author needs more evidence to elucidate the lavender scent would also be a cure to all insomnia. Thus, our evaluation of this argument could only be determined by the presentation of more evidence.

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