While it’s common knowledge that a good night's sleep can help set the foundation for optimal health and wellbeing, it’s not always easy to get enough restful sleep. From chamomile tea and warm milk to melatonin and prescription sleep aids, many of us will do anything to catch better quality Z’s, and rightfully so. Being well-rested not only helps you tackle your day with increased energy and vigor, but reduces stress and inflammation, and improves your memory - who wouldn’t want that?
On the flip side, nights filled with very little or poor quality sleep can leave you feeling lethargic, and negatively influence your mental performance, mood, and even your body weight!
Thankfully, there are various ways to help increase your chances of getting better quality sleep, including increasing your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, like Docosahexaenoic (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Yes, Omega-3 DHA and EPA can help you catch more of that elusive sleep you seek! And, here’s how.
Omega-3s Increase Vitamin D Levels
Studies show that the quality and quantity of sleep gets compromised more during the winter months because sunlight exposure is limited, and this lowers the level of vitamin D in your body. Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for sleep because the areas of the brain that govern the sleep-wake cycle, including the hypothalamus, contain vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D is needed to bind these receptors (similarly to how a key fits into a lock), in order to trigger a cycle of deep, restful sleep. Thus, vitamin D deficiency can trigger an increase in the risk of sleep disturbances and disorders.
So where do omega-3s fit into this picture? Well, omega-3s can raise your levels of vitamin D, which in turn, can lead to improvements in both your sleep quality and quantity. Support of this comes from a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, which showed that people with a good-quality sleep had a higher omega-3 intake compared to people whose omega-3 consumption was low.
Omega-3s & Melatonin – What You Should Know
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by a structure in your brain called the pineal gland. This hormone is critical in regulating your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
A study from the University of Oxford showed that lower ratios of DHA lead to melatonin deficiency and disrupted sleep patterns, while higher levels of DHA caused melatonin to increase. DHA works its melatonin stimulating magic, by helping create an enzyme that converts serotonin (your “feel good” neurotransmitter) into melatonin. By stimulating melatonin production, DHA can help you get better quality sleep, with fewer nighttime awakenings, as well as a reduced incidence of sleepwalking and other sleep disruptions.
Ward off Insomnia with Omega-3 EPA & DHA
As previously mentioned, its serotonin’s job to make us feel, well, pretty darn good. When your brain doesn't have enough of this "happy" hormone to be passed from neuron to neuron, depression can ensure, and depression and sleep issues often go hand in hand. Indeed, low levels of serotonin are not only correlated with depression, but with insomnia as well.
When tackling insomnia, Omega-3 EPA and DHA work together synergistically as a team. Specifically, Omega-3 EPA helps the neurons in your brain release more serotonin into the space between neurons. While its "teammate" DHA augments the receptors on the receiving neuron to be more sensitive to binding serotonin. By bringing serotonin levels back to normal with a quality omega-3 supplement, both depression and insomnia can be tackled at once!
Omega-3s & Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Studies also tie low levels of omega-3s to a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a condition in which an individual's breathing repeatedly pauses for a few seconds and then restarts during sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness, excessive snoring, and restless sleep.
In OSA, there’s a heightened inflammatory response, along with malfunction of the part of the brain that controls involuntary functions, including breathing. However, supplementing with omega-3s may help regulate your inflammatory response and stabilize the blocked airways in OSA, and minimize the sleep disturbances associated with this condition.
Get Better Sleep Starting Tonight
We all have better days when they follow a good night’s sleep. If you are serious about catching better quality Z’s staring now, then be sure to start incorporating some exercise into your daily routine, eat a well-balanced diet, and most importantly, start taking an omega-3 supplement – especially one that contains the synergistic pair of omega-3 EPA and DHA, like AstaMatrix®.