Omega-3 Fatty AcidsSleep (Insomnia)

Sleep apnea and the relation to omega-3 fatty acids

 Increasing degrees of sleep apnea are associated with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, according to researchers at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Here are the findings presented during CHEST 2008, the American College of Chest Physicians 74th Annual Scientific Assembly.

First, the details.

  • 350 people undergoing sleep studies were studied.
  • They had apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) scores between 0 and 104.
    • AHI is an index of severity that combines apneas and hypopneas (stopped and shallow or slow breathing).
    • AHI greater than 30 is associated with an increased risk of fatal heart attack or stroke.
  • Patients were divided into 3 groups listed below.

And, the results.

  • Average docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels were inversely correlated with AHI score.
    • 4.1% had an AHI between 0 and 14
    • 4.5% had an AHI between 15 and 34
    • 3.6% had an AHI above 35 — statistically significant

The bottom line?
It’s not clear whether these observations are clinically significant to patients. And the researchers made no recommendation for treating sleep apnea with omega-3.

That’s next logical step in this research.

11/4/08 19:28 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.