Science in Action: Omega-3 (sleep data, discussed)

This is a discussion of the facts and ideas in my previous post. In summary, several observations, involving both me and others, suggest that a few tablespoons of oil (at least olive oil, sesame oil, and flaxseed oil) in the evening improve sleep.

I’m not yet sure of this conclusion, even for myself. But several things are already worth pointing out:

1. It took several facts to change my mind (I originally thought the sleep improvement was due to omega-3 fat and had nothing to do with when I ingested it) but it did happen. Strangely enough, it happened when I was studying something else: The effect of omega-3 on my balance. I switched the time I drank flaxseed oil from 10 pm to 10 am to see if this affected my balance. (I don’t yet know the answer.)

2. The conclusion that a few tablespoons of fat late in the evening improves sleep is remarkably isolated. I have never read anything similar in the scientific or self-help literature. Most of my self-experimental conclusions, however odd they may strike outsiders (such as my recommendation to skip breakfast), are supported by many mainstream scientific results. (The breakfast conclusion, for example, is supported by dozens of studies of anticipatory activity in animals.)

3. It’s a big effect — one more hour of sleep per night. No wonder most Shangri-La dieters noticed it.

4. The long-term records of my sleep, which I had kept for no particular reason, came in handy. They made it clear that something had recently caused me to sleep longer each night. Which implied that it couldn’t be fat per se that caused the improvement — I’d been drinking ELOO (extra-light olive oil) for the past two years. The term self-experimentation doesn’t obviously encompass keeping such long-term records; they are better suggested by the term self-observation or even numerical self-observation. But whatever the term, they don’t have an obvious correlate in more conventional science. Experiments with yourself as the subject are just conventional experiments writ small and personal, you could say. But there is no part of conventional science that tracks people closely year after year. It makes scientific sense; it would be a way of getting new ideas. You might track 100 people (say). When someone’s health markers got suddenly better or worse you would investigate. This could be done; it isn’t.

13 Replies to “Science in Action: Omega-3 (sleep data, discussed)”

  1. At Argonne national there was a study on the effects of diet on sleep cycle and specifically on jet lag. Their recommendations were on what time of day to consume protein and carbohydrates and the size of the meal. I don’t remember any mention of fats in that study.

  2. i have been taking omega for 4 days and 2 600mg a day and makes me sleep and I had noticed that my sleep is very deep that I don’t know that omega3 is good or not for me SHOULD I keep taking or not maybe 2 pills a day might be to much for me or not or it is normal

  3. Hi,

    I started to take OMEGA3 3 x a day from Pharma Aldenhoven GmbH & Co. from Germany and I started to have many side effects like headache, feel very sleepy after dinner and wake up with stomachache.

    I just would like to know if someone who has all those side effects should
    stop to take omega3.

    The main reason I started to take omega3 is to improve my memory.

    Thanks a lot,

    Sandra Uemura

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  5. I have been taking 2 tablespoons of oil about one hour before bed for about a month now and have not experienced any improvement in sleep. I have no problem falling asleep but I have vivid dreams that keep me in a half sleep half awake state somewhere from 4 am to 6 am resulting a poor quality sleep. I started with flax oil and after a couple of weeks switched to 1T flax oil and 1T cod liver oil. I have noticed that my gums have been feeling better (they weren’t a real problem though) and I have had less bleeding when flossing. I will continue with the oil until my supply of flax oil runs out and then I will continue taking cod liver oil daily.

  6. Chris, since I wrote this post I’ve discovered that animal fat produces a big easy-to-notice improvement. Now I eat 1 stick of butter per day. 2 T/day flaxseed oil should produce even better results than 1 T/day. I’ve never tried cod liver oil.

  7. 1T flax oil and 1T cod liver oil. I have noticed that my gums have been feeling better (they weren’t a real problem though) and I have had less bleeding when flossing. I will continue with the oil until my supply of flax oil runs out and then I will continue taking cod liver oil daily

  8. Recently and for about one year now, I have been experiencing hard time with my sleep, as sometimes, I can’t go to sleep at all, and other times, I have enough sleep after 3 hours and a half. I don’t sleep realy deep sleep, and wake up many times. Most of the time and after a long day of work and studying, after I sleep, I wake up after half an hour suddenly, I dont’ know what causes me to wake up eventhough I am very sleepy and tired, and it’s really hard to go back to sleep.
    Today, I ordered lunch at work Salamon fish, and after I had my lunch, I felt so sleepy I tried to hold my slef four hours until I got home, then the story of the deep sleepness started, I slept 7 straight hours and I noticed that my sleep was really really deep. if it wasn’t my son who woke me up, I wouldnt’ wake up, and felt so relaxed. Really, I haven’t had this nice sleep long time ago.
    I think Omega 3 in Salamon made me sleep for sure because it relieves stress.
    I decided to have that once or twice a week.

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