A 30 minute nap can counteract the negative health effects of only getting two hours sleep the night before according to a new study.
Along with decreased reaction time that can lead to accidents in the workplace, lack of quality sleep is also a major contributor to chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
According to the new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), short naps bolstered the immune system of the sleep-deprived men who took part in the study.
“Our data suggests a 30 minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep,” said one of the JCEM study’s authors, Brice Faraut, PhD, of the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité in Paris, France. “This is the first study that found napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels.”
“Napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover,” Faraut said. “The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers.”
For the study, eleven men aged between 25 and 32 men took part in two sessions of sleep testing in a laboratory, where meals and lighting were strictly controlled.
All of the men in the study were restricted to two hours sleep per night. The next day a percentage of the men were allowed to take two, 30 minute naps during the day, while the remainder were forced to stay awake.
At the end of the three day study researchers analysed the participants’ urine and saliva to determine how restricted sleep and napping altered hormone levels.
According to the Journal: “After a night of limited sleep, the men had a 2.5-fold increase in levels of norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress. Norepinephrine increases the body’s heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.
“However, importantly, researchers found no change in norepinephrine levels when the men had napped following a night of limited sleep.
“Lack of sleep also affected the levels of interleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties, found in the subjects’ saliva. The levels dropped after a night of restricted sleep, but remained normal when the subjects were allowed to nap. The changes suggest naps can be beneficial for the immune system.”