Eating Fish May Help Children Sleep Better, Boost IQ

According to a new study, regularly eating fish is linked to reduced sleep problems in children. Researchers studied 541 Chinese schoolchildren, collecting information about their fish consumption and sleep quality at ages 9 through 11. The subjects’ parents answered questions about their kids’ sleep patterns, on topics including sleep duration, sleep anxiety, daytime sleepiness, sleep disruptions, and other factors. Researchers then measured the subjects’ IQ when they were 12 years old.

“In the present longitudinal study, children who consumed more dietary fish had both reduced sleep disturbances (better sleep quality) and better long-term cognitive outcomes,” the researchers wrote. Translation: Kids who ate more fish slept better and scored higher on IQ tests.

Subjects who “always” ate fish scored an average of 4.8 points higher on their IQ tests than subjects who “rarely” ate fish. Similarly, subjects who “sometimes” ate fish scored an average of 3.31 points higher on the IQ test than the group who “rarely” ate fish.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

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“Fish helps with sleep, and this results in higher IQ,” lead author, Jianghong Liu, a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times. “If parents want their kids to be healthy and high performing in school, they should put fish on the table.”

So, these results suggest that eating fish can improve children’s sleep, which the researchers believe will also boost their IQ. But this particular study has some limitations that mean we should take this information with a grain of salt. For one, it’s based on children, so the findings may not be applicable to adults. And the data was all collected by parental observation, rather than clinical testing, meaning it may not be accurate.

“An observational study like this can only show possible associations and cannot prove cause-and-effect,” Forbes writer Bruce Lee pointed out. “Those who eat fish may be different from those who don’t in many ways that such a study can’t adequately capture.”

Related: 6 Foods To Help You Sleep Better

That said, there’s previous evidence to suggest that eating fish can help adults sleep. One 2015 study found that adults who regularly ate oily fish reported better sleep than those who did not; research from 2014 came to the same conclusion.

Experts generally agree that certain types of fish are good for you, and an important part of a healthy, balanced diet — as long as you don’t overdo it on fish that are heavy in mercury. So if you’re struggling with sleep and don’t eat much fish, try introducing it into your diet and see if it makes a difference for you.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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