You probably already know by now the importance sleep has on your overall health and well being, both physically and mentally speaking. Naps can also have great health benefits for your body and mind as well, and as it turns out, taking a short snooze during your lunch break may actually help improve your body’s immune system. As if you even needed another excuse to take a quick power nap, right?
Short Naps Can Benefit The Immune System
Research has revealed that naps as short as thirty minutes have positive effects on the hormones in your body that are associated with a properly functioning immune system. When you are deprived of sleep, your immune and neuroendocrine systems take a toll for it. Napping can help these two systems recover from the damage many people, such as chronically sleep-deprived night shift workers, face as a result of not getting enough sleep during the night. Other studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived have higher levels of the hormone norepinephrine in their system; this hormone elevates heart rate and blood pressure as a result of high stress situations, which can be exacerbated by a lack of sleep.What’s more is that levels of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-6 decrease as a person’s sleep time lessens. Interestingly enough, a nap during the day is enough to restore levels of this protein to normal levels, regardless of how little sleep a person got the night before.
Essentially, sleep and the immune system are interconnected with each other. Have you ever noticed that you tend to sleep more when you’re feeling sick? When you’re sick, the immune system releases certain markers to make you feel sleepier; studies suggest that our bodies know that when we sleep more, we are able to recover from a sickness faster. After all, a person who receives a good amount of restful sleep every night is more than likely going to have a healthier immune system overall, and will find themselves getting sick much less often. So the next time you’re feeling the afternoon haze coming on, don’t hold back from letting yourself take a short nap. Just remember to keep it relatively short, as in around thirty minutes or so. The thirty minute nap is the amount most researchers agree is the ideal amount for achieving the most amount of benefits for your health and immune system.
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