Study links DHA levels to better sleep in Mexican teens

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Image / Image Source
© Getty Image / Image Source

Related tags: omega-3, Dha

Higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may be associated with longer sleep duration for Mexican adolescents, suggests a new study.

Higher DHA levels were also associated with earlier sleep timing during weekdays and weekends, according to data published in the Journal of Nutrition​.

The study shows correlation and not causation, and the scientists called for randomized trials to further investigate these associations.

“Given that even a 20–30-min increase in sleep duration can be beneficial for children in terms of emotional control and academic outcomes, the magnitudes of the reported associations are clinically meaningful and suggest a potential role of dietary PUFAs in promoting healthy sleep among adolescents,” ​wrote scientists from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), and Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health.

Study details

The researchers analyzed data from 405 teens living in Mexico City (average age of 14). Omega-3 levels were measured in plasma using gas liquid chromatography, while sleep was measured using an actigraphy worn on their wrists for seven days.

The data revealed that increasing DHA levels were associated with longer sleep duration. Those in highest quartile of DHA concentration slept for 32 minutes longer than teens in the lowest quartile.

In addition, higher DHA levels were associated with earlier sleep timing during weekdays and weekends, with differences by up to 45 minutes between high and lower levels. However, the researchers noted that this relationship was not linear, unlike the association between sleep duration and DHA levels.

“The effect sizes were of clinical relevance; for example, there was a 45-min earlier sleep midpoint in the highest compared with the second-lowest DHA groups, and a 30-min longer sleep duration on the weekends in the highest compared with the lowest DHA groups,”​ wrote the researchers.

“Whether DHA supplementation, as a part of a comprehensive sleep hygiene intervention (which includes maintaining consistent bedtime routines), could benefit sleep during the adolescent transitional period deserves investigation in randomized trials.”

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz286
“Plasma DHA Is Related to Sleep Timing and Duration in a Cohort of Mexican Adolescents”
Authors: E.C. Jansen, et al.

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