Did you know that a good intake of omega 3 fats may help to support children’s sleep? Many children of all ages struggle with sleep, from babies and toddlers through to teenagers. In fact, lack of sleep is common in children in most western countries, and sleep deficiency has been linked to a number of childhood learning and behavioural difficulties, including ADHD. Catherine Jeans, our resident Nutritional Therapist, is here to provide you the latest information on omega 3 fats and sleep in this blog post. Plus if you’d like to find out more, she’s running a workshop on Childrens’ Health and Nutrition on 19th June. To book your place and find out more, please click here.
Western Diets Low in Omega-3 and Omega-6
Adequate intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fats are vital for children’s health and development, as they are required for the proper function and structure of almost all cells and systems in the body, including the brain. In fact, the brain is made up of over 60% fat. However, the majority of modern western diets are actually low in omega fats, especially the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. The main food sources of omega 3 fats are oily fish and seafood, omega 3 eggs, nuts, seeds and their oils, as well as small amounts in green leafy vegetables.
Latest research on omega 3 fats and sleep
A new research study published in March 2014 in The Journal of Sleep Research found that higher levels of the omega 3 fat DHA (found in algae and seafood), are associated with better sleep. They gave 16 weeks of daily supplementation of 600mg of the omega 3 fat DHA to 362 children, who were not not specifically chosen for sleep problems, but who were all struggling readers at a mainstream primary school. Questionnaires filled in by the parents revealed four in ten of the children suffered from regular sleep disturbances. The study showed that a course of the daily omega 3 supplements allowed the children to have on average nearly one hour (58 minutes) more sleep, and seven fewer waking episodes per night, compared with children taking a placebo.
So what does all this actually mean?
Well, essentially, it’s actually quite simple. Children (and adults) would benefit from higher blood levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, especially when it comes to the bedtime routine. And it’s not difficult to increase your dietary intake – you could try oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts or a good quality supplement. I recommend the Eskimo 3 brand by Nutri, as it’s a top quality oil that most children enjoy taking, and it’s free from artificial ingredients and any toxins are removed. So, if you have a child that doesn’t like to sleep (or you struggle yourself), try increasing the Omega-3 and Omega-6 in your diet or include a supplement if they don’t like fish. You might be surprised at the results!
To book an appointment with Catherine, for Nutritional advice for you and your family, please contact Reception on 01603 631 900, email [email protected] or go to our contact page. Or to purchase your place on the upcoming children’s nutrition workshop,please go to our shop.