So, maybe you had a rough night last night, and spent, oh, about five or six hours tossing and turning. Or maybe you had a somewhat wild night last night and we just don’t need to talk about it. (Hey, no judgment here.) Either way, if you’re dragging today, science says you should go ahead and indulge in a power nap.
It’s true, and this wonderful news comes to us from a new study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Medicine. Researchers took a look at 11 healthy guys between the ages of 25 and 32, and the trial took place over two phases. In the first phase of the experiment, the scientists brought these men into the lab and asked them to sleep for only two hours a night, while in the second phase, they brought them in again, but this time allowed them to take two 3o-minute power naps the day after they restricted their sleep.
Researchers also made sure each of the guys got the standard eight hours the day before they restricted their sleep, and let them sleep their little hearts out for as long as they wanted the night after the test for “recovery.”
After the experiment, the scientists tested urine and saliva samples from the participants to check how the restricted sleep impacted their hormone levels. Sure enough, when the guys were running on empty, their levels of norepinephrine (a hormone that’s dumped when the body is in stressed out, fight-or-flight mode) jumped 2.5 times. The increase in this neurotransmitter also caused the body’s heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar to rise – which isn’t exactly ideal for optimal health. The researchers also saw a drop in interleukin-6 levels, which is a protein that helps us all ward off nasty viruses. Ick.
However, there’s good news: the researchers found no change in norepinephrine or interleukin-6 levels when the guys simply took some power naps after long nights with no sleep.
Napping may have magical powers to “counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover,” says study author Brice Faraut, Ph.D, from the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité. “The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers.”
Or, you know, anyone who’s ever had a long night out or mild insomnia.
Now, to put the findings into effect and get those immune-boosting and calming powers, you’ll need to do the following:
- Take one or two 30-minute power naps following a night of little sleep.
Boom! It’s that simple. You have permission to sleep in the name of better health. (Enjoy.)