Study finds Omega-3 Fatty Acids Associated with Healthy Sleep Duration

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A study published in Sleep Health examining a nationally representative population of US adults to look at associations between blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and sleep found that blood levels of EPA, DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids were persistently lower among adults who had experienced very short sleep (less than 5 hours) relative to adults who had normal sleep (7-9 hours). Additionally, when compared to adults with normal sleep, it was revealed that adults with short sleep (5-6 hours), had marginally lower EPA, DHA, and total omega-3 fatty acids. Over 2/3 of US adults (68.3%) do not currently consume enough Omega 3s in their daily diet to meet their nutritional needs based on the US Dietary Guidelines.
This cross-sectional study conducted by Pharmavite, the makers of Nature Made vitamins and supplements, analyzed data from 1,314 adults aged 19 years and older (not pregnant or breastfeeding), who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012.* Additional analysis revealed that there were no significant associations between total omega-3 fatty acids levels in circulation and difficulty falling asleep or sleep disorders.
“Sleep insufficiency is a key issue deepening the sleep crisis that currently impacts roughly 70 million Americans,” said Dr. Susan Mitmesser, VP of Science & Technology, Pharmavite. “While more research is needed to clarify causality and underlying mechanisms that link daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids to improved sleep, the results of this study add to a growing body of research that suggests omega-3 fatty acids have an even greater role in supporting human health than previously thought.”
For years, a number of studies have indicated that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but recent research is identifying other areas of human health where omega-3s may play a beneficial role. In 2021, a study conducted by Pharmavite and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports was the first to evaluate the relationship between depression and the levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in the circulatory system (based on analysis of NHANES 2011-2012). Analysis of the data revealed that adults with higher omega-3 blood levels correlated with a lower risk of depression and for those with higher EPA levels, there was an association with a higher quality of life, including performing daily life tasks and getting along with people.

These latest findings published in Sleep Health add to the mounting evidence that points towards the broader impact Omega-3 fatty acids can have on human health including heart health, mental health and now sleep.

Rachel A. Murphy, Prasad Devarshi, Jonathan Munn, Keri Marshall and Dr. Susan H. Mitmesser. Association of omega-3 levels and sleep in US adults, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. Sleep Health. Volume 8, Issue 1. February 2022.

Rachel A. Murphy, Prasad Devarshi, Shauna Ekimura, Keri Marshall and Dr. Susan H. Mitmesser. Serum Long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression Among Adults in the United States: An Analysis of NHANES 2011-2012. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. Volume 4, April 2021, 100089.

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The 2011-2012 NHANES Survey was the most recent survey that made this information available.

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