"Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep," said one of the study's authors, Brice Faraut, of the University Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cite in Paris, France.
"This is the first study that found napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels," said Faraut.
The researchers used a cross-over, randomized study design to examine the relationship between hormones and sleep in a group of 11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32.
The men underwent two sessions of sleep testing in a laboratory, where meals and lighting were strictly controlled.
Lack of sleep also affected the levels of interleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties, found in the subjects' saliva.
The levels dropped after a night of restricted sleep, but remained normal when the subjects were allowed to nap. The changes suggest naps can be beneficial for the immune system.
"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 study was published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).

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