I'm always super concerned about going to bed on time because I hate waking up late for work and get so worried sometimes I have difficulty falling asleep. Here are some ways to get to sleep quicker and stay asleep better.

I only have a 15 mile commute to work, but sometimes we have shows on the road, or sometimes it snows and I know I have to get up earlier than I normally would, and if that’s the case for you, Kenneth P. Wright Jr., Ph.D., director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of Colorado says that even if you have an early wake up time, you should still go to bed at the same time you always do. Even if you have to get up at 5 instead of 6, go to bed when you normally would. Otherwise, Dr. Wright says the longer you stay in bed awake, the more your body will associate your bed with not sleeping, so don’t try and force yourself to go to sleep sooner than normal. It could lead to you staying awake longer than you would if you had gone to sleep at your usual time.

Naps aren’t just for little kids and old people. I love naps, and even as adults we are encouraged to take them. I took a nap yesterday about 2:30 that was about two hours long and I still fell asleep about 10 and slept just fine last night. Sleep expert Jena Pitman-Leung, Ph.D. says that naps are good if they’re taken between 1 and 3 in the afternoon. Any later and you’ll mess with your night time sleep schedule. She says that 15 to 30 minutes is the perfect amount of sleep, but if you’re really tired, 90 minutes is OK because then you’ve likely gone through all of the sleep cycles and are less likely to wake up groggy. Oops.

If you have a programmable thermostat, set it for a cooler temperature for when you’re sleeping. Stephanie A. Silberman, Ph.D. says that you’ll fall asleep faster and go into a deeper sleep if you keep your bedroom at a lower temperature. We have our thermostat set to go down to 64 degrees about an hour before we go to bed. Dr. Silberman says that our bodies are programmed to start warm and then cool down while we sleep. I take a hot shower before bed to speed up the process. She suggests that you get ready for bed in snuggly warm pajamas or a big fuzzy robe and cozy socks when you’re brushing your teeth and washing your face and then strip down to lighter weight clothing when you’re going to bed.

Did you know that eight hours of sleep isn’t set in stone? Some people need five hours of sleep, some people need nine. It just depends on how you feel. Dr. Pitman-Leung says think of the last time you went on vacation and woke up without an alarm. You probably felt pretty good when you woke up. How much sleep did you get? That’s probably exactly how much sleep you need. If you don’t remember, she says that’s OK, but just try to aim for seven to eight hours per night.