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DENVER (CBS4)  Most caregivers know that an hour nap means a happier child, but a new study shows another benefit to a midday rest.

Children at the Bright Horizons Preschool in Manhattan, N.Y. go down for a nap every afternoon. The new study shows napping can help improve learning.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts tested the memory skills of 40 preschoolers — once after the children napped and once after they skipped the midday rest.

“We found the kids who stayed awake forgot 15 percent of the information they learned in the morning, whereas when the kids took a nap during nap time they remembered everything they had learned in the morning,” Professor Rebecca Spencer with UMass Amherst said.

Researchers measured little bursts of activity in the brain called “sleep spindles” during the children’s naps.

“We think these bursts represent markers of plasticity of when the brain is really susceptible to forming new memories,” Spencer said.

Teacher Zenobia Shroff notices the difference in her students after they wake up.

“Their social interaction is better. They are happier, less cranky. They participate much more,” Shroff said.

Experts say about an hour of napping is all it takes. The children who napped also did better on memory tests the next day, suggesting the results are long lasting.


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