Kids are getting ready to go on summer vacation. Adults cut their work schedules short on Fridays to start long weekends. The sun is out for close to 15 hours a day.

It can be hard for some New Jerseyans to wind down and get quality sleep during the summer months, according to Dr. Matthew Scharf, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School assistant professor and medical director of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center.

The doctor said consistency is key for those who might have trouble sleeping this time of year. Establish a regular bedtime and wake time, limit daytime napping and nighttime screen usage, and keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.

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"When people start switching back and forth, do it now and then the weekday comes and now you have to get up at 8:00 in the morning, and all those kinds of shifts, those make it very hard to maintain a good sleep," Scharf said.

Scharf conceded this may be tough for younger people — teenagers who prefer to go to bed late and wake up late, for instance — or even for early birds, who may find that the sun has not yet gone down by the time they want to turn in.

Neither of those approaches is necessarily wrong, Scharf said, but he stressed that behavioral decisions tend to impact sleep quality far more than biological ones.

He cited a Japanese study on seasonal variations in length of sleep that concluded there was only an average 15-minute difference between winter and summer.

"It seems like that those sort of natural, biological fluctuations that occur do exist, but they're probably going to be relatively small," Scharf said.

Scharf said he does not use the word "discipline" too often to consult patients at the Sleep Disorders Center, but such a mindset may help the sleep-deprived.

Or it may not. Scharf gave the example of one patient who did everything in a consistent fashion and got eight hours of shut-eye a night, but was still exhausted, and was eventually diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

Such hurdles are common, the doctor said.

"For example, people will not be able to sleep at night, so they'll sleep more during the day, and then they'll have more difficulty going to sleep that night," Scharf said.

If all else fails, Scharf recommends contacting a facility like the Sleep Disorders Center to enroll in a sleep study.

"When you start to see things where, either you can't normalize it on your own by just doing some of the basics, or if people are doing those and are still having a problem, then that's a particularly important reason to talk about it with your doctor," he said.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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