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Researchers suggest naps to offset nightly sleep

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ATLANTA -

Anyone with young children knows how critical nap time can be. Scientists say those kids are onto something.

A sleep researcher at the Morehouse School of Medicine says he is a huge believer in power naps to supplement the seven to eight hours of sleep one is supposed to get at night.

"So, the less sleep you have, the more you build up what we call 'sleep pressure,'" says Ketema Paul.

Paul is a neurobiologist and sleep researcher at the Morehouse School of Medicine. He says that chronic sleep pressure raises our risk of certain health problems such as putting on weight. It may even shorten lives. However, a good quick nap is like sleep gold.

"If you have high sleep pressure, and you have to do something that's dangerous. It's much better to get a nap, even if it's some place you don't normally sleep. What you find is that if you have high sleep pressure, you're more likely to go to sleep more quickly, you're more likely to get the deeper restorative sleep that's necessary," says Paul.

And it doesn't need to be a long nap. Just 10 to 30 minutes is enough time to wake up feeling rested, not groggy. Also, when you nap is extremely important.
 
"We have a preferred time of the day where we get sleepy and prefer to sleep," says Paul.

For most of us, just after lunch seems to be prime napping time.

"The best way to describe it is that if you are actively working at one or two in the afternoon, your mind is active, or your body is active, but you still feel this deep need to sleep, you just get really tired and sleepy," says Paul.

Paul says listening to the body's internal clock is important. If the body feels like it needs a nap, it would be wise to take one. This may mean office workers taking a quick cat nap at their desk during their lunch break.

Not all companies are going to encourage napping on the job, but some businesses, especially those in the field that involved safety, are more supportive of making sure employees get enough sleep.

The Mayo Clinic recommends finding a quiet, dark place with few distractions to take a short nap.

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