It's likely a rare occurrence that you wake up feeling completely refreshed, without any temptation to hit that snooze button. You know that not getting enough sleep is harmful to your health, but that knowledge isn't going to just magically knock you out at the optimal time every night.
Well, a new study suggests that the way to reverse the damaging health effects of a poor night's sleep are brief daytime naps.
Researchers at the Universite Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cite in France found that naps seemed to restore hormones and proteins involved in stress and immune function to normal levels.
The study examined the relationship between hormones and sleep in a group of 11 healthy men between 25 and 32. During one session, the men were limited to two hours of sleep for one night.
The next day, they 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 nterleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties.
Then, for the next session, they were able to take two, 30-minute naps the day after their sleep was restricted to two hours.
The researchers found that the men's norepinephrine and interleukin-6 went back to normal after napping.
"Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep," said Brice Faraut, co-author of the study, in a statement. "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."
The CDC actually labels Americans' lack of sleep a national epidemic, since 50 to 70 million of us suffer from sleep deprivation. In order to remedy the issue, the National Sleep Foundation recently released new sleep recommendations, based on age.
But if you still find yourself unable to adhere to these guidelines with your busy schedule, it may be time to incorporate a nap into your daily routine. You'd be doing a big favor for your immune system and stress-levels. Let's just hope your boss understands.