We all know that eating oily fish provides us with a good source of omega 3 fats.  Greater fish consumption has been seen to be associated with improved cognition among children, and also with improved sleep.  So is the improved sleep responsible for the improved cognition? Let’s look at the connection between eating fish, cognition, and sleep.

A recent study can help us. They monitored 541 Chinese schoolchildren, assessing their fish intake, IQ, and sleep disturbances. Take a look at the infographic below to see what the study found.

Eating fish, cognition, and sleep

Infographic about study looking at fish consumption, cognition and sleep from CALMERme.com

Here is the graph from the study showing the clear “dose” response effect on IQ improvements with increased fish consumption. 

Figure 1 Means of IQ measures by fish consumption groups from CALMERme.com blog post

VIQ – verbal IQ; PIQ – performance IQ; FIQ – full IQ. Liu J, Cui Y, Li L et al. The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study. Sci Rep. 2017;7 (1):17961.

Figure 1. Mean IQ measures by fish consumption groups.

Sociodemographic variables

The data analysis controlled for 13 different sociodemographic variables. This helps show that what the study is looking at isn’t caused by something else eg it was the fish consumption not whether they ate breakfast or had been breast-fed. The variables they looked at included where they lived, siblings, parent’s occupation, divorce, maternal age at childbirth, parent’s education level, gender, etc.  None of these variables affected the outcome of the results. 

What does all this mean?

The study concluded that fish consumption was found to improve cognition and sleep in children. The cognitive improvement was partially but not totally mediated by the improved sleep.

Improved sleep is important for many aspects of our health and wellness, not just cognition.  

So get eating some fish – and encourage your children to eat it too! It can improve our sleep through increasing melatonin and also improve our cognition too. Both of these are important throughout life. 

Reference
Liu J, Cui Y, Li L et al. The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study. Sci Rep. 2017;7 (1):17961.

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