Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid and Eicosapentaenoic Acid Supplementation on Sleep Quality in Healthy Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial.

Nutrients. 2022;14(19)
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Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are unsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fish and seafood. The fatty acids fulfil many vital roles in the body, such as creating cell membranes, supporting brain functions and being associated with many disease-protective benefits. These fatty acids also influence sleep in children and young adults, but less is known about their effect in older people. Hence, this Japanese study investigated the impact of EPA and DHA on sleep quality in people above the age of ≥ 45. 66 males and females with poor sleep participated in this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, parallel-grouped study. They either received 860 mg of combined DHA/EPA per day (576 mg DHA/284 mg EPA) or a placebo of corn oil for 12 weeks. The outcome was assessed subjectively via sleep quality and mood questionnaires, as well as objectively with a sleep scanner and blood samples. Blood samples and blood pressure where also monitored as a safety measure. Upon completion of the study there was a subjective improvement, which was backed-up by the results of the sleep scanner. This study confirmed that DHA/EPA improves sleep quality in the middle aged and older population and does so at doses lower than those administered in previous studies. The authors had set the daily minimum intake of DHA/EPA at 860 mg/day for this trial, as previous research showed no effects at lower doses. They also noted that poor responders tended to be people with pre-existing conditions or those who were pregnant. This population may require higher dosages of DHA/EPA than healthy patients. Overall, the intervention was well tolerated. Ensuring adequate DHA and EPA levels and intake could be part of nutritional strategies for sleep support.


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-omega-3 fatty acids with various functions-influence sleep in children and young adults. However, only limited studies on their effects on sleep in middle- and old-aged adults have been reported. Therefore, we investigated the effects of DHA and EPA on sleep quality in subjects aged ≥ 45 years. We performed a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, parallel-grouped study, in which we randomly assigned 66 healthy Japanese males and females. Each individual received six 480 mg capsules containing 576 mg DHA and 284 mg EPA per day (DHA/EPA group, n = 33), or corn oil (placebo group, n = 33), for 12 weeks. Before and after the intervention, the Oguri-Shirakawa-Azumi sleep inventory MA version (OSA-MA) and the sleep state test were conducted. In the DHA/EPA group, factor III (frequent dreaming) scores among the OSA-MA scores were significantly improved compared to the placebo group. Additionally, sleep state tests revealed that sleep efficiency improved in the DHA/EPA group. To our knowledge, this study is the first to report that DHA/EPA improves sleep quality in middle- and old-aged individuals, even at doses lower than those administered in previous studies.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Neurological
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/EPA and DHA
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Sleep and relaxation
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Breath

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 5
Allocation concealment : Yes