An afternoon snooze might repair damage from insufficient nighttime sleep
A 30-minute nap in the middle of your day could protect you against the harmful effects of too little sleep at night, according to recent research.
In the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, naps seemed to restore to normal levels the hormones and proteins involved in stress and immune function.
The small study restricted the nighttime sleep of 11 healthy male volunteers between the ages of 25 and 32 to two hours. The following day, the men had a 2.5-fold increase in levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone that increases heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar. They also had lower levels of a protein called interleukin-6, which fights viruses.
On a separate night, sleep was limited to two hours again. But the next day the men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps. After the brief snoozing, the men’s norepinephrine and interleukin-6 levels had returned to normal.
“Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep,” said study author Brice Faraut, of the Universite Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cite in France, in a new release. “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.”
Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk of serious health problems such as depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke. Inadequate sleep is also associated with reduced work productivity and a higher likelihood of traffic and industrial accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers,” Faraut said.
A 2009 National Health Interview Survey of roughly 75,000 people in 12 states revealed some startling things about sleep: Almost three in 10 American adults sleep an average of six hours or less a night, 37.9 percent say they fell asleep unintentionally during the day at least one time in the past month and 4.7 percent admit to falling asleep while driving at least once in the last month.
These stats prove that too many of us don’t get enough shut-eye or it isn’t the quality sleep our bodies need to function properly. The National Sleep Foundation has weighed in on the issue, tweaking the organization’s sleep recommendations earlier this month.