This study investigated the effects of fatty fish on sleep, daily functioning and biomarkers such as heart rate variability (HRV), vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) in red blood cells. Moreover the relationship among sleep, daily functioning, HRV, vitamin D status, and levels of EPA+DHA was investigated.
Ninety-five male forensic patients from a secure forensic inpatient facility in the USA were randomly assigned into a Fish or a Control group. The Fish group received Atlantic salmon three times per week from September to February, and the Control group was provided an alternative meal (e.g., chicken, pork, beef), but with the same nutritional value as their habitual diet, three times per week during the same period. Sleep (sleep latency, sleep efficiency, actual sleep time, and actual wake time), self-perceived sleep quality and daily functioning, as well as vitamin D status, EPA+DHA, and HRV, were assessed pre- and post-intervention period.
There was a significant increase in sleep latency from pre- to post-test in the Control group. The Fish group reported better daily functioning than the Control group during post-test. Fish consumption throughout the wintertime had also an effect on resting HRV and EPA+DHA, but not on vitamin D status. However, at post-test, the vitamin D status in the Fish group was still closer to the level regarded as optimal compared to the Control group. Vitamin D status correlated negatively with actual wake time and positively with sleep efficiency during pre-test, as well as positively with daily functioning and sleep quality during post-test. Finally, HRV correlated negatively with sleep latency and positively with daily functioning.
Fish consumption seemed to have a positive impact on sleep in general and also on daily functioning, which may be related to vitamin D status and HRV.
Hansen AL, Dahl L, Olson G, Thornton D, Graff IE, Frøyland L, Thayer JF, Pallesen S. Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(5):567-575.