We may have hated naps as kids, but now we can't get enough of them. The good news is that recent research suggests that a 30-minute snooze could be worth more than a quick refresh. It may be good for your health.
For a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers restricted the sleep of 11 healthy men to only two hours per night. They compared what happened when the participants didn't get any naps the following day, versus when they took one 30-minute nap in the morning and another 30-minute nap in the afternoon.
The results showed that after one day with little sleep and no naps, the participants experienced more than double the increase in norepinephrine, a hormone that reacts to stress. Norepinephrine has been known to increase heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure. The participants also saw lower levels of the protein interleukin-6, which helps our bodies' immune systems react properly to infections and diseases.
But when the men took two 30-minute naps the following day, there was not a noticeable change in either the immune protein or the stress hormone levels. These findings suggest that naps have the power to ward off some negative effects of sleep debt. In other words, while it's ideal to log the correct amount of sleep in the first place, if you tossed and turned all night, a nap may help your body return to normal.