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The benefits of napping

Tired after lunch or by mid-afternoon? You might think that you should go buy yourself some coffee. But according to UC San Diego researcher Sara Mednick, you're better off taking a nap.

Mednick worked with the university to organize a nap-in and invited students to take a snooze between classes. She explained that people don't just lose an hour of sleep after the switch to Daylight Saving Time. They also are at increased risk of heart disease and other ailments.

Mednick: "So not only is it bringing awareness to these dangers, but also just allowing people to try napping if they haven't really ever tried it and to say on this day, this is okay, there is no stigma around it and you might find that it's good for you that you like it."

Before everyone got a chance to sleep, Mednick gave a talk explaining the benefits of napping.

Mednick at the podium: "I think that we need to have a little more of a take-back the nap attitude. So that's what I'm here to do today."

In her research, Mednick found that napping was better than drinking coffee. She also found that it improves memory and even creativity. She lays out her findings in her book, "Take a Nap! Change Your Life." Mednick practices what she preaches and naps three times a week.

Mednick: "I learned to nap, actually, in grad school. I wasn't a napper when I started doing napping research, but all of that data started  coming in and I realized wow I'm sleep deprived like everybody else, and I might as well just give it a try. And I felt great."

After the talk, students picked up napping kits that included sleeping masks, ear plugs and a map of the best napping spots on campus. Some said they would try and nap more often. Staff member Michelle Peltz is one of them.

Peltz: "Yes, yes, I think it's definitely encouraged me to start napping. I realize the importance of it for memory and just overall performance. I think it's a great idea, yes." 

In fact, some students decided they needed some shut-eye right then and there.

The nap-in last week was part of a larger initiative to promote healthy living for UCSD students and the UCSD community as a whole. A quick nap is an important tool to help students stay healthy, according to Jerry Phelps, acting director of the campus' Wellness Center.

Phelps: "And so, it's going to make our students healthier, it's going to create happier students, and more cognitively effective students.

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