A new study suggests that a 30-minute nap could reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep by restoring biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels. The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

The crossover, randomized laboratory-based study of 11 healthy nonsmoking men aged 25–32 was strictly controlled for sleep-wake status, light environment, and caloric intake. To examine the association between hormones and sleep, the participants underwent two sessions of sleep testing; in one session, the men were limited to two hours of sleep for one night and in the second session they were allowed two 30-minutes naps the day after their sleep was restricted to two hours. The three-day sessions began with a night of eight hours of sleep in bed and concluded with a recovery night of unlimited sleep. Urine and saliva samples were analyzed to evaluate changes in hormone levels.

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Following a night of limited sleep, the study participants had a 2.5 increase in norepinephrine levels; however, this increase was not observed when the participants had napped following a night of limited sleep. Levels of the protein interleukin-6 were also impacted by limited sleep, as they dropped following restricted sleep but remained normal during the session when naps were allowed.

The authors conclude that napping could counter the damaging effects to the immune and neuroendocrine systems due to sleep restriction by assisting in recovery. These findings may be beneficial in developing practical strategies for treating chronically sleep-deprived populations such as night and shift workers.

For more information visit Endocrine.org.