Emerging evidence suggests that adequate intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), which include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), might be associated with better sleep quality.
N-3 PUFAs, which must be acquired from dietary sources, are typically consumed at suboptimal levels in Western diets. Therefore, the current placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial, investigated the effects of an oil rich in either DHA or EPA on sleep quality in healthy adults who habitually consumed low amounts of oily fish.
Eighty-four participants aged 25-49 years completed the 26-week intervention trial. Compared to placebo, improvements in actigraphy sleep efficiency (p = 0.030) and latency (p = 0.026) were observed following the DHA-rich oil. However, these participants also reported feeling less energetic compared to the placebo (p = 0.041), and less rested (p = 0.017), and there was a trend towards feeling less ready to perform (p = 0.075) than those given EPA-rich oil.
A trend towards improved sleep efficiency was identified in the EPA-rich group compared to placebo (p = 0.087), along with a significant decrease in both total time in bed (p = 0.032) and total sleep time (p = 0.019) compared to the DHA-rich oil.
No significant effects of either treatment were identified for urinary excretion of the major melatonin metabolite 6-sulfatoxymelatonin.
This study was the first to demonstrate some positive effects of dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFAs in healthy adult normal sleepers, and provides novel evidence showing the differential effects of n-3 PUFA supplements rich in either DHA or EPA. Further investigation into the mechanisms underpinning these observations including the effects of n-3 PUFAs on sleep architecture are required.
Medical opinion and guidance should always be sought for any symptoms that might possibly reflect a known or suspected disease, disorder or medical condition. Information provided on this website (or by FAB Research via any other means) does not in any way constitute advice on the treatment of any medical condition formally diagnosed or otherwise.