Not-so-high-functioning in the morning? Yoga teacher and forever night-owl Heidi Kristoffer shares how to do everything possible the night before so you can hate mornings a little less.
As part of our quest to become morning people this month once and for all (because science says waking up earlier can change your life), we've been tapping every expert we can for their wisdom. It makes sense that some of the best sources for morning advice are trainers who wake up before the sun to teach classes (or to work out themselves) on the reg. But that doesn't necessarily mean it comes naturally.
Like a lot of us, our longtime yoga contributor Heidi Kristoffer (try her latest workout here: Yoga Poses That Help Treat Depression) is naturally morning-averse. But thanks to teaching morning classes (and becoming a mom to twins!), she trained herself to fake it. (P.S. Here's how to trick yourself into becoming a morning person.)
"I don't think I will EVER consider myself a morning person—I taught 6 a.m. private yoga lessons for years and years, and it never got easier," she says. "I'm a total night owl; even my brain works better late at night."
That's why she uses the night to her a.m. advantage. "For me, the 'hack' is doing EVERYTHING I can the night before when I'm functioning, so the morning is easier when I'm less functioning," she says. "This type of planning takes all of the stress, worry, and time crunch out of the morning."
Here, she shares the nighttime routine that helps her survive early mornings:
I count backward from 8 hours of sleep to determine my bedtime. If that means getting into bed before 9 because I'm up at 5, so be it. Of course, this doesn't always happen (especially not since I had my twins!), but it's a good general guideline.
I make overnight oats. I boil water, oats, flaxseed meal, and nut butter, and let it sit overnight. Then, in the morning, all I need to do is reheat. Plus, I love my oats, so it gives me something to look forward to. (Try these 20 overnight oats recipes that will change mornings forever.)
I set my light box alarm. I use a blue light that replicates natural sunlight as my alarm. It totally rocks—such a gentle way to wake up. (I always set a "just in case" alarm on my phone for 5 minutes after the light box goes off, so that I'm never worried. My light box alarm is super reliable, though.)
I prepare my coffee pot with ground coffee, filter, and water.
I pick out my clothes. To prevent scrambling around in the morning and figuring out what to wear based on the weather, I always lay out my outfit and pack my bag for the next day. I make sure to include everything I need for the day—water, snacks, chargers, clothing changes, metro card, gloves, umbrella, hand sanitizer, headphones, etc.
Her relaxing morning routine:
I turn on my ready-to-go coffee pot, warm up my already-made oats, and pour myself a giant tumbler of water with a lemon wedge (that I slice the night before). While I'm waiting for my coffee, I head into the bathroom, splash my face with super-cold water, and apply a few drops of my favorite face oil.
Then I head back into bed to enjoy my coffee, water, and oats in front of my light box. (Or on the couch if it's unbearably early and my husband is still asleep, but he gets up reeeeally early—he is a morning person!)
When I'm done eating, I meditate and journal for 10 to 20 minutes and do about five to 20 minutes of yoga (time depending). Then I wake up my daughters.
Next, I use my neti pot. It keeps me from getting sick in the winter and helps with allergies the rest of the year.
The last thing I do is get dressed in my pre-planned outfit, hug and kiss my daughters, grab my pre-packed bag, and head out the door. Namaste.