Sleep; it is glorious, when you get it. Part of parenthood is giving up sleep; even if your children are sleeping through the night, there will always be things that will wake them up – illness, bad dreams, they need to be taken to the toilet, they need a drink of water… or perhaps your little one is just a light sleeper, in which case there is something that could help.
A new study by Oxford University researchers has found that oily fish could improve children’s sleep quality – all they need is a dose a day; a capsule or some oily fish (the likes of salmon, trout and mackerel) at dinner.
As part of the study, researchers upped the intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish) of children known to suffer from sleep disturbances. They then fitted wrist sensors to the poor sleepers to monitor their movements in bed over five nights. And children taking the daily omega-3 supplement had 58 minutes’ more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night than other children involved in the research, also poor sleepers, who were given a placebo.
Here’s the million dollar question: why?
According to experts, omega-3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) has long been known to affect the regulation of sleep, and according to the aforementioned research it seems that higher levels of omega-3 are equated with better sleep.
Interestingly, previous scientific research has shown that omega-3 also boosts academic performance, perhaps because it is linked to sleep and sleep is a prerequisite for concentration?
The omega-3/sleep study was however done on a small scale and the outcome requires further investigation for the ensuing hypothesis to be transformed into a fact.
That said; a dietary change is no big deal – if your child is a poor sleeper, adding salmon to his meals to up omega-3 in an effort to improve quality of sleep will do no damage at all, even if it doesn’t work!