“I’m dialing in the variables that help me get the best night’s sleep, and so far it’s blackout curtains, a soft mattress, and a 68°F (20°C) room temperature.” – Nick Onken Share this quote on Twitter

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Nick Onken

What is your morning routine?

Ideally, I like to get up at 7:30am, do twenty minutes of Vedic meditation, and finish with three minutes of gratitude practice to set the tone of the day. Then I put on a podcast, where I can learn about business, personal development, creativity, or entrepreneurship to help get my mind in a good space. My favorite podcasts are The Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness, and my own, NIONradio (not that I’m biased, but I choose guests because I’m fascinated with them and their creativity; I like to go back and listen to the episodes to take notes, which is not something that I can do easily while I’m actually conducting the interviews).

Once the podcast is over, I do a twenty-five-minute plyo training workout in my apartment. I like the plyo training because it’s the highest impact in the least amount of time. It gets my metabolism going. After I finish working out, I make a protein shake and then sit down to read some emails. I get into my work day around 9:30-10:00am.

I try to follow this routine as many days as I can, but sometimes it varies when I’m traveling or staying at my girlfriend’s. If I can get in one piece of the routine on the off days, that’s ideal. Typically, I work out 4-5 days a week when I’m home.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I’d say it’s been a good couple of years that I’ve had this routine, but I started meditating a little over a year ago.

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How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

I used to journal more than I do now. I found it hard to be consistent about my journaling, and it took a lot more time than I was hoping it would. Nevertheless, I feel like I should integrate it back in again.

What time do you go to sleep?

Ideally, 11:00pm or midnight. Depends on the day/week/events going on in my life. Life in New York can lead to some late nights when there are events.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

I try to maximize my sleep as much as possible. Blackout curtains, 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20°C), and now a Sleep Number bed that is adjustable in hardness. Sometimes I take 5-HTP to help my body relax.

Typically, I wake up after eight hours on the nose if I haven’t drunk alcohol. If I’m really exhausted from an accumulated lack of sleep, I’ll sleep longer.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I use an alarm, but most of the time I wake up before it goes off. My alarm is a Carla Bruni Pandora station played through my Sonos speaker system, so I have to do a lot to actually turn it off.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

Typically, breakfast is a protein shake after I’ve meditated and worked out, so I have it about an hour after I wake up. I put all kinds of goodies in it like goji berries, wheatgrass powder, cold brew coffee, almond milk, etc. I usually take some spirulina tablets and probiotics along with it.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

I do three different plyo training sets that work different muscles. I mean plyo as in pull ups, push ups, kettlebells, and smaller hex dumbbell weight exercises. I alternate them every day so I’m not working the same muscle groups two days in a row.

Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?

Twenty minutes of Vedic meditation, and then three to five minutes of mindfulness/gratitude.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I try not to. I try to do my morning routine first. Sometimes I’ll skim them on my phone first thing, but I don’t like to do that.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I have a Sleep Number bed that monitors sleep, but I’m not sure how accurate it is. I tried the Sense for a bit but ended up falling off the bandwagon.

I’m dialing in the variables that help me get the best night’s sleep, and so far it’s blackout curtains, a soft mattress, and a 68°F (20°C) room temperature. I also love when I can crack the window for some fresh air.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Typically, right when I get up, but I try not to go too far down the rabbit hole first thing. I like to get right into my routine.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Everything I described above! Now that we have a dog, add taking her for a walk to the list.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

I drink water when I first get up. I usually wake up pretty dehydrated, especially if I drink the night before. Drinking water is super healthy, so I like to make a habit of it.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

Depends on the week. I work for myself, so every day/week is different. I don’t always follow my morning routine as much as I’d like to.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

No, that’s pretty difficult. The meditation portion is about the only thing I can do anywhere. If I’m traveling, sometimes I work out in my room or in the gym, if I’m at a hotel. It’s hard to carry my protein shakes with me everywhere, though.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I definitely feel a bit off kilter when I don’t follow certain parts of my routine or if I don’t sleep well.

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