Traditional Chinese Medicine Body Clock- Why Do We Wake Up Or Feel Ill At Certain Times?


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is believed that our organs have points of high and low energy at a specific time frame during our 24 hour day. It is our very own built-in body clock!

I have found it to be a very effective and accurate tool in my own healing journey. Whenever I have struggles at certain times of the day, my symptoms always match up to the organ that is active at that time. If you feel unusual at certain times of the day (headache, tired, heartburn, etc), you will know which organ is trying to repair the damage done to it and the symptoms you are feeling are a result of the energy being used to do the repairs. Using this model, it can help in diagnosing what issues need to be addressed with a certain organ or system.

The Body Clock Times

3-5 a.m. Lungs- The lungs are the first organ of the day that are up for repair and maintenance. The lungs loosen the waste at this time and when you wake up, sometimes you have the need to cough since it’s trying to expel these toxins. If you experience these symptoms, this indicates that your diet and lifestyle needs to be changed. The lungs are also associated with grief and sadness, so it may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

5-7 a.m. Large intestine (colon)- This is the perfect time for a bowel movement since it needs to remove the toxins that have built up overnight. To do its job properly, your colon needs lots of water. Drinking a full glass or two of water first thing upon rising will help get the process going. This is also the worst time to consume caffeine since it is a diuretic and takes water away from your colon and kidneys therefore halting the detox process. This will also prepare your stomach for breakfast by getting your digestion moving. This is also the time that feelings of defensiveness or being stuck could be stirred up.

7-9 a.m. Stomach- It’s important at this time of day to eat your biggest meal to optimize digestion and absorption. It’s when your stomach is at its strongest and will help get your metabolism going for the rest of the day. Warm meals that are well-rounded and high in nutrition are best. Feelings of disgust or despair also surface at this time.

9-11 a.m. Spleen and Pancreas- The spleen is a large part of our immune system and produces antibodies to fight infection and looks for invaders in our blood. During this time it works with the liver and immune system and is therefore in a weakened state. The pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help digest food and release energy for the day. This is the best time of day to work, exercise or take on larger projects. This is also the time emotions like low self-esteem will surface.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Heart- The heart repairs and removes waste  at this time. It is also pumping nutrients and provides us with energy and nutrition. You may notice a change in heartbeats during this time period. This is a good time to eat lunch not only for our heart but for our adrenals. Feelings of joy or sadness can come up during this time.

1-3 p.m. Small intestines- During this time of day you are more prone to indigestion and bloating since your body is completing digestion and assimilation of food that was eaten earlier. If you experience negative symptoms, it’s a sign that your diet needs some changing so you will have complete digestion. Feelings of abandonment or vulnerability may rise during this time.

3-7 p.m. Bladder and Kidneys- This is the time metabolic waste and toxins move into your kidneys in order to be flushed out. The kidneys are working to filter the blood and maintain proper chemical balance. This is a good time to activate your circulation by walking, stretching and drinking lots of water to aid detoxification. You may notice you’re tired and want to nap during this time. If the kidneys are healthy and working properly, you’ll feel energetic instead of tired. Feelings of irritation, fear, terror or being timid will be active at this time.

7-9 p.m. Pancreas- Cravings for sweets or carbohydrates may be experienced during this time. The kidneys regulate the pancreas, so if you eat carbs and sweets, you may experience low back pain. Since the pancreas, kidneys and bladder all work together, you may feel a need to nap in the early evening if the kidneys aren’t healthy and are expending a lot of energy to repair itself. Avoid mental activities like reading. You may have difficulty with expressing emotions at this time.

9-11 p.m. Blood Vessels and Arteries- The endocrine systems job is to adjust the homeostasis of our body and replenish enzymes. It is best to sleep at this time so the body can save energy for the next day. Since the vessels are in repair mode, you may experience headaches and weakness as it is doing heavy repairs. You may feel paranoid or confusion at this time.

11 p.m.- 1 a.m. Gallbladder- In Chinese medicine, this is the time when yin energy fades and yang energy begins to increase. In order to wake feeling energized, you need to be at rest during this time. Yang energy is what keeps us active during the day and is stored during sleep. Feelings of resentment may appear at this time.

1-3 a.m. Liver- During this time, toxins are released from the body and fresh new blood is made. If you find yourself awake during the gallbladder/liver time, you could have too much yang energy or blocked detox pathways in your liver. If waste is not being processed by the liver, it acts as an irritant to your body causing insomnia and frayed nerves, or the feeling like you can’t turn your brain off. Feelings of anger, frustration or rage surface at this time.

The more you know your body, the easier it will be to maintain and improve health. It’s important to listen to your body, pay attention to the signals it’s sending you so you can start to heal. 




One thought on “Traditional Chinese Medicine Body Clock- Why Do We Wake Up Or Feel Ill At Certain Times?

  1. I like the picture that depicts the body organs according to the 24 hour clock. Didn’t know how much our bodies tell us what’s going on. All we have to do is “listen” to the symptoms, note the time, and make our adjustments to diet and lifestyle.


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