Eat Oily Fish to Get Good Night's Sleep; Omega- 3 Supplements can Help Solve Children's Sleep Problems

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By Roshni Mahesh | March 7, 2014 7:48 PM EST

Adding oily fish to the daily diet or taking omega -3 fatty acid supplements daily can help children sleep longer and better, a University of Oxford study, says.

katrinket/Flickr
Adding oily fish to the daily diet or taking omega -3 fatty acid supplements daily can help children sleep longer and better, a University of Oxford study, says.

Omega-3 fatty acids are some vital fats that help maintain good health. They are not produced in the body naturally, but acquired through the consumption of certain foods like oily fish, squid, algal and plant oils (echium and flaxseed oil).

For the study, researchers selected 362 primary school children in UK with reading problems. During the four-month study, the children took 600 mg supplements of omega-3DHA from algal oil. Parents provided information about their children's sleep habits. A significant number of the children (40 percent) experienced sleep problems, including anxiety about sleep, bedtime resistance and frequent episodes of waking during the sleep.  With wrist sensors, researchers monitored 43 children in sleep.  

Interestingly, quality of sleep improved with higher levels of omega-3 DHA in the blood. Children, who received the omega-3 supplements daily, slept one hour extra and experienced fewer waking incidents during their sleep cycle.

"To find clinical level sleep problems in four in ten of this general population sample is a cause for concern," Lead author Professor Paul Montgomery of Oxford University, said in a news release. "Various substances made within the body from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep. For example, lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, and that would fit with our finding that sleep problems are greater in children with lower levels of DHA in their blood."

Findings of the study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, are of particular importance as getting a goodnight's sleep at childhood is crucial for proper mental and physical development of children. According to National Sleep Foundation, children aged five to 12 require at least 10 to14 hours of sleep in a day. Previous studies have shown that getting quality sleep improves children's language skills and poor sleep leads to heart diseases, academic problems and behavioural malfunctioning. Apart from that, there does exist solid evidence to prove that extended sleep at night is beneficial for school going children, as it help improves their behaviour and help excel in studies.

(Edited by Vanilla Sharma)

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(Photo: katrinket/Flickr / )
Adding oily fish to the daily diet or taking omega -3 fatty acid supplements daily can help children sleep longer and better, a University of Oxford study, says.
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