Thoughts on Better Aging

Naps for Immune Health

August 20th, 2018

Recent research shows that taking a nap can help counteract the effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system

If you struggle to get enough sleep at night, you may be dependent on naps to get you through the day. It’s common knowledge that even a 30-minute nap is enough to restore alertness when that post-lunch drowsiness becomes unbearable. But can naps also help make up for a poor night’s sleep in other ways? A team of researchers from Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité in France recently set out to answer this question.

The researchers focused on immune health in their study. A full night’s sleep is very important for a strong immune system, while sleep deprivation has been shown to have a negative impact on immune function.

To determine whether naps can help counteract the effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system, the researchers recruited 11 young men with healthy night sleep habits who did not normally nap. They conducted two three-day test sessions in a laboratory setting where the men slept normally one night, slept just two hours the next night, and slept as long as they wanted the last night. During the first session, the men were not allowed to nap. During the second session, they were allowed two 30-minute naps on the final day.

The researchers measured the participants’ norepinephrine levels each day. Norepinephrine is a substance that is released in response to stress and raises heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. The afternoon after sleeping just two hours (in the first session), the men’s levels were more than twice what they were after a normal night’s sleep. But when they were allowed to nap (in the second session), there was no change in norepinephrine levels.

Researchers also noted an effect on the levels of interleukin-6, an immune regulating molecule. When the men were sleep deprived, levels dropped. But when they were allowed to nap, levels remained normal.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that a short nap can function as a “powerful countermeasure to sleep debt.”

Other Benefits of a Full Night’s Sleep

While this small study suggests that you can recoup the immune benefits of a full night’s sleep with a short nap, there are many other benefits of healthy sleep to consider. Getting 7 to 9 hours of quality, restful sleep each night can help:

  • Keep your heart healthy
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve your memory
  • Protect against loss of brain volume
  • Help you lose weight
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve your sex life

There are many reasons why you may suffer from poor quality sleep as you age. At Renew Youth, we offer a variety of treatments designed to tackle the root cause of your specific age-related sleep issues, from hormone therapy to relieve insomnia and night sweats to melatonin spray to help reset your biological clock. Contact us today to learn more.

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