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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) -- Most caregivers know a napping child usually means a less cranky child later in the day, but a new study shows another benefit to a midday rest: improved learning skills.

Children at theBright Horizons Preschool in Manhattan go down for a nap every afternoon. A new study shows napping can help improve learning. Researchers tested the memories of the children who took naps and those who didn't. Those who took a nap remembered everything they had learned in the morning.

Researchersmeasured activity in the brain called sleep spindles during the children's naps.

"We think the bursts reflect markers when the brain is really susceptible to forming new memories," siadProf. Rebecca Spencer of UMASS Amherst.

Researchers say their results answered critics who question the benefit of naps and want them eliminated to make more time for learning.

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," said Shroff.

Even though some little ones may not want to go to sleep experts say about an hour of napping is all it takes.

Reported by Marlie Hall, CBS NEWS.

The study results were published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org

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