They say it’s the fountain of youth, the solution to every health problem you’ve ever had, and the secret to remaining an ageless beauty.

I know this isn’t news to you, but as much as we all wish we had another hour – or eight – in each day, the truth is we aren’t as productive or fun to be around if we skip those zzz’s. Add to that bags under the eyes and the weight gain associated with habitual sleep slacking, and you’ve got some good reasons to make snoozing a priority.

The problem is you have to devote eight hours a day to it, everyday. I’m still working on this, so do as I say, not as I do!

Here are some tips that might help those of us who have a problem shutting our brains off at night:

Baby yourself. I’m not saying swaddle yourself every night and convert your bed into a crib. Just establish a bedtime and stick to it. It can be whatever time works best for you – just make sure it’s at least eight hours before wakey, wakey.

Schedule time to unwind. I know, it’s weird to pencil in time to relax, but sometimes we need the reminder! And no using your downtime to plan. That just jumpstarts your mental tickertape of to-do items. You know, the one that likes to speed up as soon as your head hits the pillow.

Keep evenings sacred. Try not to schedule chores or too many events at night. This is time to spend with the family, treat yourself to that long overdue massage, or just catch up on “Will and Grace” reruns.

Plan ahead. To keep your evenings stress-free, and to avoid those last minute freak outs that happen as you’re trying to get everyone out the door each morning, planning is mandatory. Sundays are a good day for many people – find a couple of hours each week when the kids are at soccer practice or hanging with Grandma, and bang out that to-do list, get your calendar together, and stick to the plan!

Say buh-bye to Blackberry. Just at night. You can bbm ’til your thumbs turn blue during your waking hours. But once it’s bedtime, don’t even think about putting your blackberry near your pillow. I check my blackberry compulsively, often in the middle of the night, and it definitely affects the quality of my sleep – it’s a habit I’m trying to break!

Lastly, remember that your inbox is constantly refilling, even when you’re asleep. Okay, I’m repurposing the morbid version of this saying (your inbox will still be full when you die), but you get what I mean right? You will always have things to attend to, so just accept it, and know that you’ll get the necessary stuff done when you’re good and rested.

Do you notice a difference in your mood, behavior, or appearance when you skimp on sleep? How do you make time for adequate rest?

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