It seems that the list of omega-3 benefits is ever growing. In everything from supporting a healthy cardiovascular system to healthy joints, inflammation levels, eyes, mood, bones and skin, omega-3s do a lot.
Now, recent research points toward the idea that omega-3s, particularly DHA, may positively affect the quality of sleep. Although there are few studies on the relationship between omega-3s and sleep, some studies show that higher levels of omega-3s are associated with fewer sleeping problems in both children and adults. In fact, a newer study from Oxford University says that of children studied who took 600mg daily of the omega-3 DHA for four months, they slept for an hour longer each night with fewer sleep disturbances.
At the beginning of the study, parents and caregivers rated the children’s sleep habits over a typical week on the well-validated Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire. The responses indicated that about 40 percent of the children had clinical-level sleep problems, including resisting bedtime, being anxious about sleep and frequent waking throughout the night.
The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
What does all this mean? Paul Montgomery, study author and professor of psycho-social intervention at the University of Oxford, believes this: DHA helps to release melatonin, the hormone that gets you to sleep. “In turn, that helped with the onset of sleep and the stabilization of it,” Montgomery explains. Additionally, it was noted that while melatonin levels change throughout life, omega-3s seem to help normalize those shifts in melatonin levels.
Montgomery also points out that omega-3s can support a healthy mental state in adults. “Core features of unhealthy mental states are sleep problems, and it wouldn’t surprise me if these things were linked,” he states.
While more studies need to be done on the relationship between omega-3 intake and sleep, the findings look promising—especially since omega-3s have a long list of health benefits already.
How can you get more omega-3s in your diet? Some excellent sources of omega-3s include coldwater fish, preferably wild, such as salmon, cod, halibut and tuna; organic eggs from hens allowed to feed on insects. Likewise, you can get ample omega-3s from flaxseeds and flaxseed oil; chia seeds; walnuts and other nuts; and more.
You can even get raw omega-3s in your diet, including some raw vegetables, fruits and nuts. There are even “hidden” omega-3s in foods such as fermented dairy—including yogurt, kefir, cream and hard cheeses—as well as strawberries; blueberries; raspberries; avocados; spinach; zucchini; kale; broccoli; quinoa; lentils; barley; and more.
So, enjoy those omega-3s! It could mean better sleep quality.