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DHA May Improve Sleep in Children

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Sleep disorders happen quite frequently among children, particularly occurring in as many as 30-40% of kids. Without appropriate treatments, sleep deprivation can lead to other severe issues, including fatigue, declining school performance, depression, behavioral issues, weight gain, and even poor general health.

Low DHA levels tied to sleep problems in children

The Journal of Sleep Research, published by Oxford University recently, has come to a conclusion of major causes of sleeplessness among children. Besides, the study also provides a nutrition-oriented approach to improve sleep. During the research, experts conducted the experiment among 395 children aged from 7 to 9 years old. To evaluate the sleep patterns of these kids, experts tested and analyzed the children’s blood to measure their levels of DHA, known as an omega-3 fatty acid.

Earlier studies had reported that as many as 30 to 40% of children admitted finding it difficult to fall asleep at night. Surprisingly, the data they collected after measuring the quality of children’s total nightly sleep has shed light to a correlation of sleep troubles among kids with blood DHA levels. Specifically, children with lower levels of DHA were reported to experience a reduction in sleep duration while higher blood DHA levels were associated with significantly better, longer sleep.

The experts raised DHA levels by letting a small number of children use DHA derived from marine algae or a placebo during 16 weeks. This experiment was to check whether any increase in DHA rates can improve sleep possibility of children. Then, a technique called actigraphy, including their analysis of sleep duration, the number of night-wakings, and actual quality of sleep, was used to evaluate the influences of DHA on these children. Researchers concluded that children who received the DHA developed better quality sleep, an increase in sleep duration by nearly one hour, and fewer, shorter night-wakings.

Melatonin might play a role

In general, scientists still cannot find any direct relation between DHA levels and sleep in children. Some experts assumed that this effect might result from the connection between DHA rates in the brain and the hormone melatonin production in the body. Melatonin plays an integral part as a supporter for sleep regulation. This issue remains unexplained and further research is needed for a conclusive answer. Because restorative sleep is a fundamental requirement for healthy brain functions, parents should never ignore any signs of sleeplessness in their children. According to the new report, parents should pay more attention to sleep quality of kids and help handle their sleep disorder by supplying their children with omega-3 DHA, such as fatty fish like salmon. If food alone is not providing adequate amounts of DHA, parents can look for high-quality fish and plant-based DHA supplements with the prescription and direction from doctors.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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