Insomnia: “heavy eyelids and heavier thoughts.” Finding trouble? Let’s read about how omega 3 can help insomnia and provide a good night’s sleep.

You’ve probably heard of countless lifestyle changes that aid in getting a good night’s sleep, such as putting your phone aside and turning over (truly!) or essential oils for sleep. Apart from establishing these healthy sleeping habits, it is also important to note that your quality of sleep depends on what you eat. 

A growing amount of evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acid-rich diets are connected to enhanced sleep quality in both adults and children. There’s a shred of increasing evidence demonstrating the benefits of omega 3s for sleep quality throughout our lives [1].

The connection between Omega 3 and sleep

Sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. Obesity, diabetes, and depression have all been linked to sleep deprivation across research findings.

Omega 3 is frequently recommended as a supplement for children, and numerous studies have outlined the benefits – DHA-enriched formulas improve kinesthetic awareness. One study even discovered that omega 3 may help to reduce inflammation in the lungs, which may benefit asthma patients [2].

Sleep disorders in children and obstructive sleep apnea in adults are linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids [3]. Low amounts of DHA have also been related to lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep [4].

Omega-3 supplementation improves the length and quality of sleep in both children and adults, according to studies [5].

Melatonin is an important hormone that aids sleep. Melatonin works with the body’s circadian cycles to help the body prepare for sleep by delivering messages to the body that it’s time to rest, assisting in relaxation, lowering body temperature and blood pressure, and decreasing concentrations of other hormones that boost attentiveness. 

Melatonin deficiency is caused by low amounts of omega 3 DHA, according to research, and raising DHA levels causes melatonin levels to rise.

Does Omega 3 improve symptoms of insomnia?

When it comes to setting yourself up for success in bed, what’s on your plate genuinely counts. Picking supplements that may help with insomnia can also be a good choice alongside the diet. As we discussed, omega 3 supplements have evidence of improving sleep disorders like insomnia.

Insomnia is one of those global equalizers that affects everyone at some point in their lives. Insomnia is defined as having difficulties with sleep. Stress or a stressful encounter can cause a momentary, short-term issue. 

According to various research conducted around the world, insomnia affects 10%–30% of the population, with some estimates as high as 50%–60%. It’s more common in elderly people, women, and people with medical or mental illnesses [5].

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish may 

  • Improve sleep quality, help you fall asleep faster, and improve your everyday function, according to researchers. These changes were observed in a group of adult men who consumed fatty fish three times per week for several months [6]
  • Help you sleep better. These fatty fish are also high in Vitamin D, which is necessary for proper sleep.
  • Help you sleep better even when you’re pregnant. Low levels of DHA have been linked to poor sleep in pregnant women, according to new research. 

Researchers discovered that the link between low DHA and poor sleep included greater inflammation and shorter gestation duration [7].

Top food sources of Omega 3

While all of this research appears to be encouraging, it’s necessary to keep in mind that further studies need to be done. If you’re aiming to boost your omega-3 consumption, it is important to take into account your diet first before considering supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally present in some foods and are also added to fortified foods. You can obtain enough omega-3s by consuming a variety of foods, including the ones listed below [8]:

  • Seafood and some other fish (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
  • Plant-based oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
  • Foods with added nutrients (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)

Does Omega 3 cause sleeplessness?

Fish oil in moderate amounts has been shown in certain investigations to improve sleep quality. For example, a study of 395 youngsters found that ingesting 600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids every day for 16 weeks improved sleep quality [9]. Taking too much fish oil, on the other hand, might disrupt sleep and contribute to insomnia in certain people.

A high dose of fish oil was found to increase symptoms of insomnia and anxiety in a patient with a history of depression in one case study. Current research, on the other hand, is restricted to case studies and anecdotal reports. More research is needed to determine how big doses may affect the general population’s sleep quality.

How to avoid insomnia from fish oil?

You can take fish oil at any time of the day that is convenient for you. This is because the majority of evidence suggests that the potential benefits of fish oil supplements are related to long-term use rather than immediate use.

According to studies, ingesting fish oil for several weeks, months, or even years can boost blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Adjusting the timing of dosage, on the other hand, can help avoid some of the negative effects associated with fish oil.

In some people, however, taking too much fish oil might interrupt sleep and contribute to insomnia. Hence, too much fish oil can be avoided to avoid insomnia.

In one case study, a high dose of fish oil was observed to worsen sleeplessness and anxiety symptoms in a patient with a history of depression. 

What are the benefits of Omega 3?

Listed below are the top 5 benefits of Omega 3 for holistic health.

Omega 3 and eye health

DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is a key structural component of your retina. Vision difficulties can occur if you don’t get enough DHA [10].

Getting adequate omega-3 has been associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration, one of the primary causes of permanent eye damage and blindness worldwide [11].

Omega 3 and heart disease

The top mortality rates worldwide are heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers discovered that fish-eating societies had a very low incidence of these diseases decades ago [12]

This was eventually connected to the ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have since been linked to a slew of heart-health benefits.

Omega 3 and metabolic syndrome

A metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms. High blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels are all part of it.

It’s a big public health issue since it raises your chances of getting a variety of other ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes.

In patients with metabolic syndrome, omega-3 fatty acids can help with insulin resistance, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors [13].

Omega 3 and inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to pathogens and injuries. As a result, it is critical to your health. Inflammation over time can have a role in practically every chronic Western illness, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, can inhibit the synthesis of inflammation-related chemicals and substances such as inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines.

Higher omega-3 consumption has been linked to lower inflammation in research [14].

Omega 3 and cancer

Cancer is one of the primary causes of death in the Western world, and omega-3 fatty acids have long been thought to lower cancer risk.

People who ingest the most omega-3s have a 55 percent lower risk of colon cancer, according to research.

Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has also been associated with a lower incidence of prostate cancer in males and breast cancer in women. Omega 3 benefits people with arthritis and is also shown to prevent birth defects in children, etc. However, not all studies come up with the same conclusions [15].

The recommended dosage of Omega 3 for different age groups

Below mentioned is the recommended dosage of Omega 3 for different age groups [16]:

Birth to 12 months 5 g
1 to 3 years 7 g
4 to 8 years 9 g
Boys (9 – 13 years) 1.2 g
Girls (9 – 13 years) 1 g
Males (14 years and above) 1.6 g
Females (14 years and above) 1.1 g
Pregnant women  1.4 g
Lactating women 1.3 g

FAQs

When to take omega-3 supplements: morning or night?

You can take omega 3 supplements at any time of day because the majority of the results are linked to long-term use. Dividing your supplement into two smaller dosages in the morning and at night, however, can help with acid reflux.

Can omega-3 reduce anxiety?

High doses of omega-3s (up to 2,000 mg per day) were found to have the greatest reduction in anxiety symptoms, according to the researchers. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish oil, have a variety of biological actions in the body. However, ask your doctor first!

Does omega-3 increase serotonin levels?

As Vitamin D aids in the production of serotonin (a chemical messenger that boosts mood), fish oils aid in its function. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a fundamental component of omega-3 fatty acids, reduces brain inflammation and so increases serotonin release from serotonin neurons.

Wrapping up

Omega 3 foods should be a priority in your diet merely because of their cognitive and other therapeutic properties. It’s an even better notion when you include in the promise of better sleep. Low amounts of [omega-3] DHA have also been linked to lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep.

Omega 3 is loaded with numerous benefits. However, the dosage recommendations should come from your doctor based on your health condition.

References

  1. Patan, Michael J et al. “Differential Effects of DHA- and EPA-Rich Oils on Sleep in Healthy Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients, (2021), vol. 13,1 248.
  2. Beach MC, Cooper LA, Robinson KA, et al. Strategies for Improving Minority Healthcare Quality. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 90, (2004), AHRQ Publication Number 04‐E008‐1.
  3. Ladesich, James B et al. “Membrane level of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid is associated with severity of obstructive sleep apnea.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine vol. 7,4 (2011): 391-6.
  4. Peuhkuri, Katri et al. “Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin.” Food & nutrition research vol. 56 (2012): 10.3402/for.v56i0.17252. 
  5. Hansen, Anita L et al. “Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine vol. 10,5 (2014): 567-75. 
  6. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre et al. “Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) (2016), vol. 7,5 938-49.
  7. Christian, Lisa M, et al. “Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) Status in Pregnant Women: Associations with Sleep Quality, Inflammation, and Length of Gestation.” PloS one, (2016), vol. 11,2 e0148752.
  8. “Omega-3 fats – Good for your heart”, Medline Plus, (2022).
  9. Montgomery, Paul, et al. “Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study–a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of sleep research vol. 23,4 (2014): 364-88. 
  10. Anderson, G J et al. “Docosahexaenoic acid is the preferred dietary n-3 fatty acid for the development of the brain and retina.” Pediatric research vol. 27,1 (1990): 89-97. 
  11. Singh, Meharban. “Essential fatty acids, DHA and the human brain.” Indian journal of pediatrics vol. 72,3 (2005): 239-42.
  12. Leaf, Alexander. “Historical overview of n-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 87,6 (2008): 1978S-80S. 
  13. Ebrahimi, Mahmoud et al. “Omega-3 fatty acid supplements improve the cardiovascular risk profile of subjects with metabolic syndrome, including markers of inflammation and auto-immunity.” Acta cardiologica vol. 64,3 (2009): 321-7. 
  14. Li, Kelei et al. “Effect of marine-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor α: a meta-analysis.” PloS one, (2014), vol. 9,2 e88103.
  15. Terry, Paul D et al. “Long-chain (n-3) fatty acid intake and risk of cancers of the breast and the prostate: recent epidemiological studies, biological mechanisms, and directions for future research.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 134,12 Suppl (2004): 3412S-3420S.
  16. “Omega 3 fatty acids”, NIH, (2022).