Can Weekly Fish Consumption Improve Sleep Quality & Intelligence?

Can Weekly Fish Consumption Improve Sleep Quality & Intelligence?

Title: The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study

Author: Liu et al

Journal: Scientific Reports (7, Article number: 17961(2017)

Objective:  To examine dietary fish intake, sleep quality, and cognitive outcomes in a large sample of healthy, Chinese schoolchildren

Background

High concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Various studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids can help with lowering triglycerides, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and asthma. They also have cognitive benefits. They appear to help with the development of neural tissue in infants and young children when taken during pregnancy, including visual and motor skills, language, hand-eye coordination, and IQ. In older folks it helps protect against dementia and improves academic performance and cognition in adolescents.

How many of these neurocognitive benefits occur remains unclear. One area of interest is sleep. Sleep is known to be neuroprotective and poor or insufficient sleep leads to decreased cognitive function. Previous studies have suggested that DHA may be linked to melatonin regulation and promote prostaglandin synthesis which is well known to mediate the sleep/wake cycle. Previous studies have also linked fish intake to improved sleep.

The authors of this study wanted to know if:

  • Frequent fish intake is linked to better sleep, long-term cognitive outcomes?
  • Whether sleep mediates the fish intake and long-term cognitive outcome relationship?

Methods

541 chinese school children

  • Longitudinal
  • 54% boys, 46% female
  • Age 12 and up

Participants completed

  • Food frequency questionnaire
  • IQ measurement
  • Sleep quality evaluation 

Result s

Frequent fish consumption associated with fewer sleep problems and higher IQ scores

There was a dose-response relationship indicated higher IQ scores in children who always (4.80 points) or sometimes (3.31 points) consumed fish, compared to those who rarely ate fish (all p < 0.05).

Sleep quality partially mediated the relationship between fish consumption and verbal, but not performance, IQ

Conclusions

Children who eat at least 1 serving of fish per week sleep better and have IQ scores that are, on average, 4 points higher than non-fish eating children.

Sleep was also found to partially mediate the relationship between fish consumption and cognitive outcomes.

This is the first study to link fish consumption, better sleep quality and improved long-term cognitive functioning in children.

If you don’t already consume fish regularly, start adding more fish to your diet

Reference

Liu, J., Cui, Y., & Li, L. (2017). The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: A cohort study. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17520-w

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