The Chinese Body Clock: How It Can Benefit Your Mind and Health


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chinese body clock benefits

Do you keep waking up at 2 am every night even though you were dead asleep? Do you find it difficult to go back to sleep once you are awake? Did you know this type of insomnia is more common than you think? If you are wondering why exactly this happens, then the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) might have an answer for you.

According to ancient beliefs based on the Chinese Body Clock, our body follows a strict and detailed self-regulating, self-care routine to take care of our organs at specific times every day.

“Secret prescriptions cure serious diseases.” – Chinese saying

What’s The Chinese Body Clock?

“With the right kinds of energy, every disease is curable.” – Julia H Sun

Chinese Body Clock
Chinese Body Clock

The Chinese Body Clock, also known as the Chinese Meridian Clock, is a valuable tool in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This concept of organ clock explains that Qi (or ch’i), or vital force or energy, moves through the various organs and meridians, or energy channels, of our body during a 24-hour cycle. The Qi is believed to be most active in a specific organ and helps improve its functions every two hours within our body.

Moreover, according to this 2,500-year-old belief, our emotions are connected with our mind and body. Hence if your physical body or your mental state is in disharmony then it will directly impact your emotional well-being. This may lead to insomnia and broken sleep patterns, especially when the organs experience an unbalanced meridian, as per the TCM body clock.

As different meridians become more active during different times, you experience different sensations during different hours of the day, when a specific meridian is strongest.

So if you are having stomach problems, you will likely feel its effects during 7 am and 9 am as the stomach meridian is highly active at this time. However, abdominal pain may not always be the only symptom of an unbalanced stomach. You can experience a toothache, gum pain, nose bleeding, sore throat, or even nausea due to stomach problems. The unbalanced stomach meridian may also lead to adverse emotional and mental levels according to the Chinese Body Clock.

Moreover, our body clock also suggests that specific activities can be performed best at particular times. By following our natural and biological rhythm, we can improve the way our meridians are balanced.

Related: What is EFT Tapping & How It Can Help You Heal Yourself

Can The Chinese Body Clock Help You Sleep Better?

“A saying from the area of Chinese medicine would be appropriate to mention here: ‘One disease, long life; no disease, short life.’ In other words, those who know what’s wrong with them and take care of themselves accordingly will tend to live a lot longer than those who consider themselves perfectly happy and neglect their weakness. So, in that sense at least, a Weakness of some sort can do you a big favor, if you acknowledge that it’s there.” – Benjamin Hoff

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, every function in our body is related to a certain time based on our internal clock. Each individual organ is activated by Qi for a period of 2 hours each day. During these two hours, blood and energy or Qi enter different organs in our body and moves through all the 12 meridians. The specific organs and all the related meridians work the hardest as they are energized which also affects your productivity and your emotions.

Chinese Body Clock

This concept of the body clock can help us realign our day in a smarter way that is most beneficial for our body, mind, and emotions. Practitioners of TCM believe that the daily rise and fall in our strength and stamina can help us understand our concealed health imbalances. You will feel low and experience particular symptoms when the Qi is not flowing properly in a certain meridian.

Our body speaks to us through these symptoms that offer us hints about what’s going on inside and what we need to do about it. Listening to and understanding these patterns can enable you to realize what you need specifically to make yourself feel better. So if you are waking up at 2 am every night, then you can tune into your Chinese Body Clock to find out the reason for your insomnia.

How The Body Clock Works

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body clock is a useful tool that helps us utilize every moment of the 24-hour cycle and tells us the best times to eat, rest, have sex, or exercise. It is also a means of communication that our body uses to send signals from an organ or meridian. Once the entire cycle complete over a period of 24 hours, it repeats again the next day. 

Here is a closer look at the details of the Chinese body clock so that you can better understand all the hints and clues your body is sending you.

Chinese Body Clock

1. Large Intestine Hand-Yangming: 5 AM – 7 AM

chinese body clock large intestine

If you tend to wake up during this time period, then your large intestine is trying to communicate with you about something. 5 am to 7 am is a great time to have your first bowel movement to remove unnecessary toxins from your body from the previous day. Moreover, waking up just before sunrise can be beneficial for your mental and emotional health as you are most reflective at this time.

This is also an excellent time to cleanse your body with a bath. You should also comb your hair during this time period as it is believed that the act of combing helps to release excess energy from your mind. However, you may experience feelings of defensiveness.

If you keep waking up between 5 am and 7 am, then it means you need to focus on hydrating your body properly and getting adequate fiber as the large intestine is tasked with getting rid of digestive waste regularly. Being reflective, you may experience feelings of being stuck in particular scenarios which can overwhelm you and lead to negative emotions. You should focus on releasing these negative feelings to move on emotionally and physically.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Here are some of the physical and emotional level symptoms that you may experience during this time period:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore throat
  • Toothache
  • Nose bleeds
  • Deafness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Defensiveness
  • Feeling stuck
  • Difficulty in letting go 

Tips to balance meridian:

This is the best time for you to wake up, get out of your bed, and drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon juice. This will help to clear your system before you had your breakfast and start your day. You can also go for a quick walk and have your first bowel movement for the day.

However, it is best not to consume any caffeine as you need to avoid any diuretic. What your body needs now is lots of water for healthy large intestines and colon. This is also a great time to practice meditation as it will help you to reflect and clear your mind.

2. Stomach Foot Yangming: 7 AM – 9AM

chinese body clock stomach

Energy moves through your stomach from 7 am to 9 am and so it is crucial that you have a protein-rich breakfast during this time period. Have the biggest meal of the day to improve digestion & absorption of nutrients. Make sure to eat heavy and ward meals that are high in nutrition for your breakfast. During this period you may experience emotions related to despair and disgust. You may also feel anxious which can lead to an imbalance in the meridian.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it can be a great idea to practice positive affirmations between 7am and 9am before you start your day. This will give you the mental strength and confidence to accomplish the objectives for the day.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

The following physical and emotional symptoms may be experienced during this time in case of an imbalance: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding gums
  • Stomach pain
  • Fluid retention & swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Nose bleeding
  • Facial paralysis
  • Sore throat
  • Constant hunger
  • Feelings of despair & disgust
  • Issues with healthy eating habits

Tips to balance meridian:

Eat a healthy and filling breakfast and make sure you include a lot of fibers, carbs, and proteins. You can have a fruit salad with yogurt and fresh mint. Practitioners of TCM believe that this should be the largest meal of the day which has also been confirmed by medical science.

As this is a great time for good concentration, it can be highly beneficial for you to practice breathing meditation and practice some Yoga or Qi Gong.

“Qi gong therapy, as well as other branches of Chinese medicine, can be reduced to two simple principles: the cleansing of meridians to achieve harmonious energy flow, and the restoration of yin yang balance.” – Wong Kiew Kit

3. Spleen Foot-Taiyin: 9AM – 11AM

chinese body clock spleen

Your Pancreas and Spleen come to the spotlight during these two hours as enzymes are released to digest and convert food to Qi or energy. This is the best time to get some exercise or do the heaviest work of the day, according to the Chinese Body Clock. You are most productive during this time. So make sure you progress fast on your tasks but keep it fun and playful.

This is also a great time to practice working meditation on land to stay grounded and work in peace. You may feel low self-esteem and worry more than you should at this time. So stay positive and keep your intentions clear.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Here are some of the physical and emotional level symptoms of unbalanced meridian which you can experience:

  • Sluggishness
  • Bloating
  • Tiredness
  • Poor appetite
  • Lack of thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Allergies
  • Issues with spleen/pancreas
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Jealousy
  • Worry
  • Low self esteem
  • Feelings of disappointments

Tips to balance meridian:

This is the time for you to work as much as you can and be highly active. The spleen gives you mental strength by converting nutrients into energy and supporting metabolism. Hence, you should make sure you consume a healthy breakfast.

Related: 33 Starseed Symptoms due to Awakening & DNA Activation

4. Heart Hand-Shaoyin: 11AM – 1PM

chinese body clock heart

This is the time of the heart. Your heart is most energetic now and will effectively pump blood & nutrients all across your body to give you nutrition and Qi or energy. TCM practitioners advise that this is the best time to enjoy your lunch and eat a light, warm meal. It is also recommended that you have a cup of tea or even a quick one-hour power nap to give yourself a little boost.

During this time, you may also experience heart palpitations and low energy if you tend to overwork without taking enough breaks. This has also been confirmed by various medical studies. Feelings of excessive sadness or joy may be experienced during these 2 hours.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

If there’s an imbalance in your heart meridian, you are likely to feel the following physical and emotional level symptoms:

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Heart problems
  • Thirst
  • Incoherent speech
  • Bitter taste in mouth
  • Restlessness
  • Extreme sadness 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Confusion
  • Lack of inspiration & joy
  • uncontrollable laughter/crying 
  • Poor concentration

Tips to balance meridian:

Eat a good, cooked meal for lunch and socialize a bit. Make sure your lunch is a nutritious, balanced meal that is warm and filling enough. This is also a great time to connect with people and enjoy conversations. Reach out and help people.

5. Small Intestine Hand-Taiyang: 1PM 3PM 

chinese body clock small intestine

This is the time for the Small Intestine to get activated and get to work. As your hearty lunch starts to assimilate and gets digested, this two-hour window is a great time for healthy bowel movements. You can continue to be productive with your daily tasks during this time or engage in some relaxing and creative activities and socializing.

As your body will slow down and become sleepy, this is an excellent time for a siesta to re-energize yourself. You may have feelings of abandonment or subconsciously experience vulnerable thoughts at this time.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

The following are some of the physical and emotional level symptoms that you may experience in case of an unbalanced meridian:

  • Low energy
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Hearing issues
  • Stiff neck
  • Swollen chin/ face
  • Sore throat
  • Pain in shoulder/ arm/ elbow
  • Facial paralysis
  • Feeling insecure
  • Vulnerable
  • Gullible
  • Feelings of abandonment

Tips to balance meridian:

This is a great time to get organized and solve your problems for the day. Focus on the issues that you are facing and sort them out by getting organized, believe TCM Body Clock experts.

In case you experience a drastic energy crash during these two hours, consume some sugar-based food and caffeine. This may occur due to unhealthy eating habits or missing out on your meals. This is why having a healthy and filling lunch is crucial.

Related: Spiritual Meanings Behind Physical Aches, Pains And Illnesses

6. Bladder Foot-Taiyang: 3 PM – 5 PM

chinese body clock bladder

This is the time for your bladder to be in the spotlight as it transfers the metabolic wastes through the filtration system of your kidneys. This is a great time to focus on work that challenges your brain like studying and learning as you should conserve your physical energy at this hour.

It is also a good time to enjoy another cup of steaming tea as well as drinking adequate water to help you detoxify. An imbalance in the bladder can make you feel irritated, afraid and, timid.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Disharmony in the bladder can make experience the following physical and emotional symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Pain in the neck/back/leg
  • Eye problems
  • Facial paralysis
  • Color blindness
  • Irritation
  • Fear
  • Timidity

Tips to balance meridian:

According to the Chinese Body Clock, this is a great time to do some work that stimulates your mind. Make sure to drink a lot of water and even a cup of tea to detox your body as toxins will be passed through urine between 3-5 pm.

7. Kidney Foot-Shaoyin: 5PM – 7PM

chinese body clock kidney

It is time for your Kidneys to get down to business and feel the energy. During these 2 hours, your kidneys work harder to maintain the right chemical balance by filtering blood constantly. This is considered to be the best time to have your dinner. This is also the time for you to get your energy levels back up and activate your blood circulation. So make sure you engage in activities like walking, dancing, stretching, having a massage, and laughing before you get ready for your evening meal.

During this time, you may feel excited, self-aware, and courageous as you have faced all the problems of the day. However, if there is an imbalance, you may subconsciously experience terror or fear.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Some of the physical and emotional level symptoms which you may experience due to imbalance include:

  • Tiredness
  • Cold limbs
  • Poor circulation
  • Night time urination
  • Incontinence
  • Night sweats,
  • Asthma
  • Dry throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lower libido
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tinnitus
  • Weak back/ knees
  • Anxiety
  • Poor memory
  • Stress
  • Terror
  • Fear
  • Insomnia

Tips to balance meridian:

Experts in TCM Body Clock believe eating a healthy dinner and restoring your energy can help you fix an unbalanced meridian. As our kidneys store energy reserves, it may be a good idea to reflect on what activities and thoughts we invest our energy in if we feel tired in these 2 hours. Focus more on yourself and practice self-love.

Related: Waking Up Between 3-5 am Often Can Be A Sign Of Spiritual Awakening

8. Pericardium Hand-Jueyin: 7PM – 9PM

chinese body clock pericardium

The Pericardium receives the Qi at this time and boosts circulation by carrying nutrients to the capillaries and cells. This is also a great time to enjoy your dinner in case you missed the earlier window. These two hours are perfect for enjoying the company of your family members and spouse, practicing meditation, pray, deliver gratitude, or even engage in healthy and loving sexual intimacy with your partner.

As you need to avoid any mental activities, you can wind down by reading a good relaxing book. You will feel the strongest spike of energy at this hour. You may find it hard to express your feelings if there’s an imbalance.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

If there’s an imbalance in this meridian, you are likely to feel the following physical and emotional symptoms:

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Heart & chest pain
  • Elbow spasm
  • Armpit swelling
  • Being unresponsive
  • Inability to express emotions
  • Feeling depleted
  • Mania
  • Hurt
  • Excessive happiness

Tips to balance meridian:

If we are to believe TCM practitioners, then this is the best time to socialize with friends, flirt, and engage in healthy sexual activities. The pericardium is associated with our brain and reproductive organs. Hence, it is a great time to conceive if you are planning to get pregnant. You can also soak your feet in hot water and massage the arch of your feet to find balance.

9. Triple Burner Hand-Shaoyang: 9 PM – 11 PM

chinese body clock burner

As we move further into the night, the energy moves to the Triple Burner (a.k.a. Triple Warmer or Triple Heater) which is related to our endocrine and lymphatic systems and it replenishes our enzymes and adjusts homeostasis.

As we start preparing to go for bed, our pelvis, abdomen, and thorax become most active as intake is controlled by the thorax, transformation by the abdomen, and eliminations by the pelvis. It is a great time to receive insight and understanding our inner selves. 

TCM experts recommend that we go to sleep during this time as our body needs to conserve energy for the next day’s activities. With an imbalance, you may feel depression, confusion, paranoia, hopelessness, lack of joy, or extreme happiness.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Here are some of the physical and emotional level symptoms of unbalanced meridian which you can experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Stiff neck
  • Water retention
  • Urinal issues 
  • Frequent headaches
  • Incontinence
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Issues with ears/eyes/chest/throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tinnitus
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Swelling of cheek
  • Fever
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Pain in the shoulder/hand 
  • Paranoia
  • Hopelessness
  • Confusion
  • Guilt
  • Depression

Tips to balance meridian:

This is the time to go to bed and relax. As Triple Burner is linked with the thyroid & adrenals, it controls energy transfer and is responsible for metabolism and temperature. Don’t engage in overthinking at this time. Develop and follow a relaxing nighttime routine, read a book and avoid bright artificial lights.

10. Gallbladder Foot-Shaoyang: 11 PM – 1 AM

chinese body clock gall bladder

If you keep waking up from sleep between 11 pm and 1 am then you need to give some attention to your gallbladder. Bile is stored and excreted by the gallbladder to help effective digestion. It also helps in making decisions and controls sinews, tendons and even dreams.

According to TCM, this is the hour when yin energy starts to fade & yang energy gets stronger. Yang energy gets stored while we sleep and keeps us active during daytime activities. Due to imbalance, you may feel emotions related to indecisiveness, resentment, and bitterness if you hold on to heavy feelings.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

The following are some of the physical and emotional level symptoms that you may experience in case of an unbalanced meridian:

  • Weak tendons
  • Nausea
  • Tendonitis
  • High cholesterol
  • Ear diseases
  • Headaches
  • Migraine
  • Hip problems 
  • Dizziness
  • Bitterness in mouth
  • Pain in jaw/eyes
  • Shyness
  • Timidity
  • Poor judgment
  • Resentment
  • Bitterness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Frequent sighing
  • Being impulsive

Tips to balance meridian:

If you are waking up during this time, then you need to avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and trans-fats as it is hard for the gallbladder to break these down. As per the Chinese Body Clock, you need to relax and take steps to get some good sleep so that you may feel rejuvenated the next day. You may feel aches and pain during these two hours if you have gallbladder stones.

Liver detox and gallbladder flush can help you cleanse your organs. On the emotional level, it can be helpful to reflect and focus on your relationships to identify the underlying problem. Try to release all negative energy that may be blocking your system.

Related: Press This Button On Your Body To Help Relieve Your Stress And Anxiety

11. Liver Foot-Jueyin: 1AM – 3AM

chinese body clock liver

As your body goes to sleep at this time, the energy moves to the Liver. It detoxifies the body and processes your emotions according to the Body Clock. The Liver not only stores blood, but it is also associated with the eyes, nails, and tendons and controls the Qi in your body. During these two hours, toxins are released and new fresh blood is created.

If you are waking up at this time, it is probably due to excessive yang energy in the body, issues with the liver, or the detoxification process. This can be due to high levels of stress, unresolved anger, excess alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet. If there’s an imbalance, you may feel frustrated and angry.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Let’s check out some of the physical and emotional level symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

  • Chest distention
  • High blood pressure
  • PMS
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Digestive issues
  • Liver problems 
  • Migraine 
  • Constipation
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Breast tenderness
  • Hernia
  • Tendonitis
  • Repeated sighing
  • Low back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Bottled up emotions
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Resentment
  • Frustration

Tips to balance meridian:

If you keep waking up at this time, then it’s probably due to excess consumption of alcohol or prescription drugs, unhealthy diet and unresolved anger and stress. Moreover, your liver may also be overpowered by the load of the detoxing process as per TCM experts.

Find effective ways to cope with your daily stress and try to avoid alcohol. Eat a wholesome meal for dinner a few hours before you sleep. Replace drinking coffee with green tea for a week and try to exercise regularly. Get some deep sleep and seek professional help for proper detoxification, if needed.

12. Lung Hand-Taiyin: 3 AM – 5 AM

chinese body clock lung

This is the hour of the Lungs. As your body sleeps, the Qi is transferred through your lungs at this time. The Lungs control the immune and respiratory system, manage the sweat glands and keeps your skin moist. Waking up between 3 am and 5 am means you have an imbalance in your lungs and experiencing breathing problems.

Hence, disruption in sleep during these two hours means your capacity to take deep, clean breaths is being hindered by something. It may also be related to emotional problems that you are facing like dealing with loss or grief.

Symptoms of unbalanced meridian:

Below you can find a few physical and emotional symptoms of unbalanced meridian that you may experience between 3 am and 5 am:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Cough
  • Sweating
  • Sore throat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Asthma
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Fever with chills
  • Chest pain
  • Shoulder/ back pain 
  • Headache
  • Weak voice
  • Dry skin
  • Pale complexion
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Sadness
  • Crying

Tips to balance meridian:

According to the Chinese Meridian Body Clock, exercises that soothe your nerve like, yoga and deep breathing exercises, can help prevent you from waking up at this time. Keep your body warm so that your lungs can recharge your body with oxygen.

Meditation can also help to improve your breathing properly, enhance your lung capacity, and release grief. Changing your diet and lifestyle can also be a good idea. You can also start writing a journal to express yourself and your emotions before going to sleep.

A Traditional Way To Heal

“The Chinese do not draw any distinction between food and medicine.” – Lin Yutang

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine rely on the body clock to understand which specific organs might be the cause of a disease. Understanding when each organ is most active and how it communicates with you through physical, mental, and emotional symptoms can help you understand your body and yourself better. 

Every organ in our body has a self-repair and maintenance process and follows a strict schedule on a daily basis. By understanding this schedule, we can improve our physical and mental health and experience better overall well-being. Following this body clock can help you recognize which particular organ and emotions needs your attention to make you feel better and healthier.

Using the symptoms and cues, find out what you were feeling at what particular time. Moreover, the time when you wake up from sleep every night can also serve as a guide to help you identify any underlying health problems. By doing some research, you can also find out ways to strengthen the particular meridian to resolve issues in that specific organ. However, you also need to consider the emotional aspects as well as the physical symptoms. 

Focus on balancing the Qi in your body for better sleep, enhanced energy, and experiencing healthy emotions. By developing a solid knowledge about TCM and the Chinese Body Clock, you can use it as a guide to identify health issues and improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Chinese Body Clock: Why You Wake Up Every Night At The Same Time
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