A recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research has suggested that taking higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids may promote better sleep. The results were based on randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted by the researchers at the University of Oxford.
About 362 children were assigned to receive 600 mg of omega-3 DHA supplement for 16 weeks. The participants were not diagnosed with sleep problems, however, the subjects were poor academic achievers. The parents of the children were asked to respond a sleep questionnaire. In four out of ten children, regular sleep disturbances and/or poor sleep were reported. Researchers have fitted wrist sensors to children with poor sleep pattern. The bed movement patterns were assessed for five nights. When compared to corn or soybean placebo, improved sleep of one hour with few intermittent wakeups was reported in children who were on high dose omega-3 DHA supplements.
The follow-up study has included about 362 healthy children who were aged between 7 and years. The plasma concentration of omega-3s and omega-6 was assessed. The parents were asked to provide responses to Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire. About 40% of the children were diagnosed with altered sleep patterns, parasomnia, bedtime resistance and anxiety. The results have suggested that low blood levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids with poor sleep could increase learning or behavioural difficulties.
According to Dr. Paul Montgomery, Professor at Oxford University, the causes of sleep problems are diverse in nature. However, the roles of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in regulation of sleep by melatonin metabolism are notable. Reduced blood concentration of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids is linked with low levels of melatonin and associated sleep problems
Additional studies are to be conducted to validate the study results of pilot study, the trial researchers have noted.