Mitigating Sleep Deprivation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

SFN_MSD 2010 – Click to view findings poster

The link between Omega-3 fatty acids and enhanced stress resiliency, memory, and performance was assessed in 30 subjects who completed two trials of 48-hour acute sleep deprivation. One arm of the double blind cross-over design was on high dose Omega-3 and the other on placebo. The Alertness and Memory Profiler was used to objectively assess outcomes. Performance as measured by percent correct and reaction time during a 3-choice vigilance task was substantially better when the subjects were on high dose Omega-3. High performance was maintained for approximately 39-hours after the start of the sleep deprivation.

The amplitudes of the memory event related potentials (ERPs) across subjects and conditions in response to targets and non-targets were significantly greater while on high dose of Omega-3 as compared to placebo. ERP memory components were more pronounced after 24- and 48-hrs of sleep
deprivation compare to both baseline and placebo in the frontal (executive function) and the posterior (spatial working memory) regions. Subjects reported no difference in anxiety, depression, anger, or confusion resulting from sleep deprivation during their Omega-3 and Placebo sessions.
While on placebo, subjects reported increased fatigue and decreased vigor. Additional studies are underway to assess the benefit of Omega-3 under chronic sleep deprivation conditions.

Johnson, R, Berka, C. et al. (2010) Mitigation of sleep deprivation through Omega-3 fatty acids: Neurocognitive inflammatory, EEG and EKG evidence,
Neuroscience, San Diego, CA