Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ (2014) J Sleep Res. 2014 23(4):364-88, epub Mar 8. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12135.
See also the associated news article:
To find clinical level sleep problems in four in 10 of this general population sample is a cause for concern.
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.
Previous studies we have published showed that blood levels of omega-3 DHA in this general population sample of seven to nine-year-olds were alarmingly low overall, and were directly related to the children's behaviour and learning.
Poor sleep could well help to explain some of those associations - and our previous findings from this randomized controlled trial, showing that DHA supplementation improved both reading progress and behaviour in the poorest-reading children
Further research is needed given the small number of children involved in the pilot study. Larger studies using objective sleep measures, such as further actigraphy using wrist sensors, are clearly warranted. However, this randomised controlled trial does suggest that children's sleep can be improved by DHA supplements and indicates yet another benefit of higher levels of omega-3 in the diet.