By: Caitlin Dilli
Why do I always wake around 3:00 am? Why is it so difficult to get up in the mornings? Why is it harder to fall asleep after a large dinner? While googling these questions yields interesting reasons, such as stress, supernatural powers, or demonic possession, they can also be answered with the traditional Chinese medicine body clock.
The TCM body clock reflects the cyclical ebb and flow of energy in your body over a 24 hour period. Energy moves in two hour intervals through each organ system. From 3:00 am until 3:00 pm, the energy is focused in the outward moving organs whose functions reflect movement, digestion, and elimination. From 3:00pm until 3:00 am, the energy moves inward to support the internal organs associated with rejuvenating and maintaining your body, such as filtering waste and cleansing.
|Best time to…||Best time to…|
|3-5am||Lung||Sleep deeply||3-5pm||Bladder||Drink tea and work|
|5-7am||L. Intestine||Wake and drink H20||5-7pm||Kidney||Eat a light dinner|
|7-9am||Stomach||Cook and eat breakfast||7-9pm||Pericardium||Go on a date|
|9-11am||Spleen||Work and workout||9-11pm||Triple Warmer||Relax & get ready for bed|
|11-1pm||Heart||Lunch with friends||11-1am||Gallbladder||Fall asleep|
|1-3pm||S. Intestine||Organize & problem solve||1-3am||Liver||Sleep deep and dream|
Tips based on the TCM body clock:
The chart shows the optimal time of each organ system. Also, when one organ system is at its peak energy, the organ system 12 hours away is at its weakest. The goal is to plan your daily activities to maximize an organ system’s energy while avoiding actions that strain the organ system on the opposite side of the spectrum. Here are some lifestyle habits to help harmonize your energy:
- Liver: During the night, the liver stores and detoxes the blood. Too much alcohol, prescription drugs, or poor diet habits can overwhelm the Liver energy and cause you to wake during these hours. The weakest organ at this time is the Small Intestine, which is responsible for the assimilation of key nutrients from food and drink. Eating a heavy meal late at night means that food is not digested well and the Liver is less efficient at filtering the blood. Therefore, the more time that passes between the last meal of the day and 1:00am, the better the Liver will be at accomplishing its functions.
- Large Intestine: Make sure to give yourself enough time in the morning to allow for the normal elimination of the large intestine. Going on a brisk walk and drinking lots of warm water help facilitate the process.
- Stomach / Small Intestine: Try to eat heavier meals at breakfast and lunch to utilize the expanding and warming energy as it peaks at 12:00pm. These earlier, larger meals help to deliver nutrients to the Small Intestine when it is strongest, aiding in digestion and absorption.
- Kidney: The Kidney energy is aligned with the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands secrete hormones that help us wake with energy in the mornings. The Kidney energy is weakest from 5:00-7:00am, which can explain why people with depleted Kidney energy have a difficult time waking in the mornings.
Another way to maximize this energy is to incorporate acupuncture and Chinese herbs into your lifestyle. Acupuncture and herbs can help to balance your energy, creating a smooth transition of energy within your day.