Diet can affect sleep quality. In fact, as we may have experienced firsthand, an elaborate diet rich in fats and sugars can disturb sleep. On the other hand, there are some nutrients, such as vitamin D, B12 but also magnesium and zinc, and foods, such as kiwifruit, milk and sour cherries, which, on the other hand, can promote a good rest. From today we know that fish oil can also be a valid aid for improving sleep, as demonstrated by a very recent scientific research published a few days ago in the Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of an English team (Patan et al, Nutrients, Jan 2021).
The polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA belong to the omega 3 family and are found in oily fish, salmon and krill. These two essential fatty acids determine the proper functioning of several systems, including the brain and the nervous system. However, there are few studies aimed at understanding the effect of these two fatty acids on sleep quality. Therefore, the researchers analyzed this aspect. To do this, 84 young adults between the ages of 25 and 49 were recruited, all in good health, non-smokers and non-hypertensive. In addition, none of the study participants had the habit of consuming fish oil that, as seen, is a source of EPA and DHA. The researchers divided the volunteers into three groups, the first group was asked to take 900 mg of DHA and 270 mg of EPA every day for 6 months, divided into three daily doses and taken in capsule form. The second group took 360 mg of DHA and 900 mg of EPA each day for the same period of time, again in three doses. Finally, the third group took a placebo given by three capsules of extra virgin olive oil. In this way, it was possible for researchers to observe the different effects that the two fatty acids EPA and DHA have on sleep. For the entire duration of the experiment, the study participants had to keep a diary in which they reported sensations and possible reactions. In addition to this, they had to wear an actigraph for all 24 hours, which is a kind of watch used to study sleep. The actigraph, in fact, records the movements of the body and identifies the phases of sleep and wakefulness. At the end of the experiment, what emerged was that in both groups that had taken the fatty acids EPA and DHA an improvement in sleep had been detected by the actigraph, with an increase in the time spent in bed while asleep and with a reduction in the time taken to fall asleep.