What’s the connection between eating fish, IQ, and sleep habits? According to a new study (December 2017), published in the journal Scientific Reports and completed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, children who eat fish once a week or more sleep better and score higher, on average, on IQ tests than children who never eat fish or do so less than once a week. This first of its kind study begins to show connections between sleep, eating fish, and heightened IQ in children. Let’s take a closer look at the findings.

The Study :
News channel CNN reports that the study consisted of 500 Chinese children between the ages of 9-11 years old. They were asked how often they eat fish with answers in the range of never, seldom, and once a week or more. The children at age 12 were then given IQ tests that examined both verbal and nonverbal levels of intelligence. For the children who answered that they ate fish more often, the IQ scores were on average 3.3 points higher. In some cases the IQ score was close to 5 points higher (4.8).

In addition to looking at the amount of fish eaten by these children, parents were asked to respond to questions about the amount of sleep their child(ren) got on average. The length of sleep, frequency of napping, and tiredness were included in the survey. Increased fish consumption was linked to fewer disturbances of sleep, supporting the notion that omega-3s promote better overall sleep quality.

What this means:
While many studies (and repeated studies) have shown a correlation between improved physical health and the consumption of fish, this is the first research into intelligence, sleep, and fish. Further studies will need to be completed to draw correlations between the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and the increased intelligence. Stay tuned and, as always, enjoy fish in your diet!

Study Resources:

Nature.com – The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study

Daily Mail UK – Children who eat fish at least once a week get better sleep and have a higher IQ, according to a new study.