Insufficient sleep leads to health problems like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression and can also contribute to road and industrial accidents.
Nearly three in 10 adults say they sleep six hours or less a night but a new study shows power naps during the day can offset the effects of sleep deficiency.
“This is the first study that found that napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels” says study author Brice Faraut of the Sorbonne University in Paris.
“Our data suggests a 30 minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep,” he added.
Men in the 25-32 year age group who took part in the study were limited to two hours sleep for one night.
In another session the participants were allowed to take two 30 minutes naps the day after their sleep was restricted to two hours.
The third day’s sessions began with an eight hour night of sleep.
After the two hour night’s sleep the men at a 2.5fold increase in the hormone’s involved in the body’s fight or flight response to stress.
When they were allowed to nap the levels returned to normal.
Lack of sleep also affected a protein with antiviral properties.
The levels dropped after a night of restricted sleep but returned to normal when the men were allowed nap.
“Napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover,” Faraut said.
“The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers.”
The study is published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.