There's nothing we love more than a good power nap. Those 'I'm just resting my eyes, I swear' moments in which you slip, ever so briefly, into a rejuvenating slumber only to wake up, more energised and totally ready to party. Sometimes though, our naps don't quite work out, and we find ourselves feeling more out of sorts than before we shut our eyes. That's when we're doing it wrong; we've either had too little or too much shut-eye in the middle of the day and it's thrown us completely off-kilter. So how do we know what's right? Science, you guessed it, is here to enlighten us.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, naps really are good for boosting your energy, as well as reducing your stress levels. Researchers tested 11 men (where's all the ladies at?) aged between 25 and 32 over the course of two three-day sessions of sleep testing. Night one, they were given what we generally consider to be standard: eight hours sleep. The second night, they were only allowed to sleep for two hours before half of them were given two 30-minute naps the following day. The other half had to ride it out. On the third night, the group of participants slept to their hearts' content.
From this, researchers gathered both urine and saliva samples to examine their hormone levels. Those who were starved of naps came across with higher levels of norepinephrine (a hormone that we shouldn't have too much of in our bodies as it increases our stress response, and something that SNRI antidepressants seek to help) while those who disco-napped presented normal levels of this hormone. As well as this, interleukin-6, which is pretty important for our immune system's many processes, was seen to be lacking in those who hadn't napped but returned to normal for those who got the half an hour kip.
In short, if you don't get a good night's sleep, give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted rest, if you can find the time to do so. No more, no less, and your body will love you for it.