High omega-3 fatty acids tied to better sleep

22 Jun 2022
High omega-3 fatty acids tied to better sleep

Higher serum levels of long-chain (LC) omega-3 fatty acids are significantly correlated with healthy sleep among adults, reports a recent US study.

Drawing from the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers assessed 1,314 adults (mean age 47.2 years, 48.6 percent men), in whom circulating levels of fatty acids had been measured. Sleep parameters, including duration and quality, were assessed through a computer-assisted interview.

Total LC omega-3 levels were significantly lower in adults who had very short sleep (<5 hours) vs those who had normal sleep duration (7–8 hours) per night (2.0 percent vs 2.52 percent; p<0.001). This effect was driven by significantly lowered levels of eicosapentaenoic (EPA; p=0.002) and docosahexaenoic (DHA; p<0.001) acid in very short sleepers.

A similar pattern was reported for those with short sleep (5–6 hours), though this was only of borderline significance (2.31 percent vs 2.52 percent; p=0.05).

Regression analysis, adjusted for complex survey design, confirmed that very short sleepers showed significantly lower levels of total LC omega-3 acids than normal sleepers (β, –0.34, 95 percent confidence interval, –0.58 to –0.11). The same remained true for EPA and DHA.

“Although additional research is needed to clarify causality and underlying mechanisms, our results suggest efforts to increase regular intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids could improve sleep,” the researchers said. “Future innovation in omega-3 diagnostics may lead to more widespread measurement of an individual’s omega-3 fatty acid status that will allow for personalized dietary recommendations.”

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