Tech & Science

Eating Fish Weekly Helps Increase IQ and Give You a Better Night's Sleep, Study Says

12_21_2017
Eating fish once a week could help with sleep problems, according to study in children. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Certain foods can keep you up at night, whether from bad dreams or indigestion, but a new study shows that what you eat for dinner could help you sleep, too. 

Related: Eating Salad Every day Keeps Brain 11 Years Younger and Prevents Dementia, Study Shows  

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that kids who ate fish once a week slept better and benefited from a higher IQ, by about four more points on average, according to a release. This was in comparison to children who ate fish very infrequently.

As the researchers note, this is not the first time omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, have been shown to improve sleep and smarts. However, this is the first study to link the two together.

For the study, 541 Chinese children between 9 and 11 years old answered questionnaires about how often they ate fish over a period of four weeks. Options included never to at least once a week. Then, the participants took what’s known as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised, a Chinese IQ test that measures verbal and nonverbal skills.

To measure how well the kids slept at night, parents completed questionnaires that measured length of sleep as well as evening disturbances and daytime fatigue. 

The team determined that weekly fish-eaters earned 4.8 more points on the IQ test than those who seldom or never included the food in their diets. Kids who occasionally ate fish scored 3.3 more points. Plus, the food also was linked to better sleep quality as fish-eaters experienced fewer disturbances throughout the night.

Of course, this study was observational so no causal link can be proven. However, the team hopes to conduct follow-up research using controlled trials and adult subjects. These latest findings add to the fairly new area of research exploring the impacts of food on our body.

"This area of research is not well-developed. It's emerging," said Registered Nurse Jianghong Liu, lead author on the paper in a statement. "Here we look at omega-3s coming from our food instead of from supplements."

There is some evidence indicating that omega-3s could help with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health. And while there is a lot of research looking at how it could impact the heart, nothing strongly indicates that eating fish or taking supplements could improve your ticker.

If you are looking to feel well rested, then adding a serving of fish to your diet might be an easy fix. And you also might want to avoid hot sauce and cheese before bed, too. A study in Canada indicated that people who ate these foods were more likely to have bad dreams and trouble sleeping, according to Eat This, Not That.