There are four main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – found in green, leafy vegetables, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnut and canola oils.
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – found in oily fish, krill oil, and algae oil.
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – found in oily fish, krill oil, and algae oil.
- eicosatetraeonic acid (ETA) – found in roe oil and green-lipped mussels.
The scientific research on the impact of omega-3 on sleep has mostly focused on children, and it suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be able to help people sleep better. With the known benefits of omega-3 on the brain, heart, and other organs, it’s not surprising that it would also have a positive impact on sleep.
The lead author, Dr. Paul Montgomery, believes that lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, which plays an important role in sleep.
Omega-3 fatty acid also regulate your levels of norepinephrine, which is a stress hormone, high levels of which will decrease REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Another study published in Scientific Reports found an association between regular fish consumption and high sleep quality among Chinese schoolchildren. Largely as a result of improved sleep, the children scored higher on IQ tests.
In a 2014 study from Norway, it was found that adult male participants who ate 300 g of Atlantic salmon three times per week for six months fell asleep faster.
According to the University of California Berkeley Wellness, some of the fish that have high levels of omega-3 are:
- wild herring (Atlantic and Pacific)
- farmed Atlantic salmon
- wild King salmon
- wild Pacific and jack mackerel
- pink, sockeye, and chum canned salmon
- canned jack mackerel
- wild Atlantic and Spanish mackerel
- wild bluefin tuna
- canned sardines
- canned white albacore tuna
One drawback of eating a lot of fish is the absorption of heavy metals. The general rule is the larger and older the fish, the higher the heavy metal content.