Hello my beautiful long-lost friends. Yep, still here. Haven't forgotten about ya.

I've been notably absent from basically all forms of digital communication and social media - save for several tweets about the Bachelor Finale Monday night and MISCHA FREAKING BARTON being on Dancing With The Stars this season - because, in short, I'm tired. I'm overwhelmed and under-rested. I got into the elevator this morning and stared at the LOBBY button for a good ten seconds before I remembered to actually push it. 

Last night I was chatting with one of my co-workers friends at the gym. She was carrying two huge bottles of water and I complimented her on having a great hydration habit. She laughed and said, "I don't know why I'm not losing more weight. I do everything right."

I told her it's because she doesn't sleep enough. And truth be told, these days, neither do I. We're both guilty of running a bit on empty right now. Unfortunately, as I'm sure many of you know, sometimes our schedule works against us and there's not much we can do to change it. Right now, I'm working several late nights and early mornings back to back - last night I got home after 11 and had to be up by 6:30. Not the greatest when you're aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep. Especially because I come home COMPLETELY wired. I didn't fall asleep until after midnight. I slept a solid six hours, but it's just not enough. Tonight I'll get home around 9:15 and my alarm for tomorrow is set for 5:30am. That doesn't give me much of a window to wind down, but I think seven hours should be doable.

I always say, "Don't work for your schedule - make your schedule work for you." Is this always possible - no. Keep in mind that lack of sleep is directly related to weight gain (or struggling with weight maintenance). I've put together a list of hacks to ensure I'm making the most of each moment from falling asleep ASAP to waking up well-rested and rarin' to go. Here are a few tips for you if you're looking to maximize your sleep - and your schedule.

· Brush with non-mint flavored toothpaste at night. Mint is a stimulant. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider this or this in the evening. 

· Cut off sweets and liquids an hour or two before your scheduled bedtime. If you're a troubled and/or sensitive sleeper (I'm both) don't have dessert after dinner (if you need a sweet treat, have it earlier in the day) and cut off caffeine by noon. One of the reasons I rarely drink alcohol anymore is because I sleep so much better without it, and rest is my highest commodity these days. Something to consider.

· Set yourself up for sleep. If you know you'll be home late, lay out your pajamas ahead of time. Get your head on that pillow as fast as humanly possible.

· Keep dinner on the lighter side for better digestion and easier rest. I usually eat chicken and vegetables a few hours before I want to go to bed. Anything heavy (grains, red meat) tends to mess with my sleep patterns, so if I do eat a more indulgent dinner, I'll save that for the weekend or a night before a day I know I can sleep in.

· Give yourself a small block of time to prep everything you need for the next day. Whether you get home late, wake up early, or both, scrambling to get your shit together at the last moment is never fun. Before I go to bed, I make sure my iPad is in my backpack, my portable charger is all juiced up, my complete outfit is on the chair for me to grab on my way to the bathroom, and my breakfast is laid out for easy assembly. I keep my earrings and watch by the door. Every minute before work counts twice as much in my mind. If I can move purposefully and with ease, I'm setting myself up for a good, productive day.

How's your slumber these days? How do you ensure that you're getting enough sleep? Regeneration (rest) is an essential part of living a better, brighter life - you can't complete the puzzle without this piece. Personally, I'm following all of the tips above and I'm fitting in naps when I can. I'm also reminding myself that my schedule will not always be this way and for now I just need to do the best that I can with what I've got!

This post is inspired by a Divine Caroline article I wrote that was published several years ago - head on over there for more time-saving tips in the morning!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and thank you for reading. :)