Chinese Medicine Clock | Optimise Your Energy Cycle & Thrive


Chinese medicine clock illustration

Over thousands of years, traditional Chinese Medicine has given us insights into not just how our organs function, but how each of them impacts our spirit and emotions. If an organ isn’t working as well as it should be or isn’t in balance, it can affect physical well-being as well as how we relate to others and ourselves on an emotional level.

There are twelve organs in our body’s meridian system, and the Chinese Medicine Clock assigns each a two-hour time period in which they function at optimal levels. It can be used as a guide to understanding your energy cycle and matching daily activities to the qualities of each organ or time period to nurture your mind and body optimally.

5am to 7am: The large intestine

The large intestine is responsible for eliminating waste from the body. On an emotional level, it represents our ability to let go of the past and move forward. Between the hours of five and seven are the best time to wake up and start your morning routine. If you experience bouts of slow digestion or constipation or feel “stuck” in your life, try:

7am to 9am: The stomach

Qi is used to digest your food, so if you’re the kind of person who has low stomach energy, skipping breakfast can work for you. Intermittent fasting has also shown to have a number of benefits, which can include “eating windows” that might not include your regular breakfast meal. Tips for 7am to 9am include:

9am to 11am: The spleen

This powerful organ transfers our food into nutrients and distributes that energy throughout our body. If it is not functioning correctly, you may suffer from exhaustion, bloating, loose bowel movements or feelings of despair. In terms of spleen health:

11am to 1pm: The heart

The philosophies of both Western and Eastern Medicine state that the heart is one of the most important parts of the organ system. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes the heart is responsible for holding our memories, which is why some heart transplant recipients sometimes acquire the skills and memories of their donor! In terms of the traditional Chinese Medicine Body Clock, during these hours, our heart works hardest to keep nutrients circulating, so take care of it. Tips for heart health include:

1pm to 3pm: The small intestine

The small intestine is responsible for keeping the body’s usable energy separate from waste — it “Separates the Pure from the Impure”. At this time, the energy of the day begins to slow down, so it’s the ideal time to have a rest and support our systems in preparation for the evening.

If this energy system is working well, it can also be the perfect time to start sifting, sorting and organising information. Sometimes, vulnerable thoughts of feelings of abandonment, insecurity and vulnerability may subconsciously arise at this time.

If you have indigestion or a dry mouth, you may not have had enough nutritious food or water throughout the day. Try to:

3pm to 5pm: The bladder

This is a prime time for a midday “slump”, particularly if you aren’t properly hydrated – which is why some people reach for another coffee or a chocolate bar! This overload of sugar can cause an insulin spike which can lead to an afternoon “crash”. This time period is a powerful indication of how well your energy is flowing. Try to:

5pm to 7pm: The kidneys

The kidneys are considered the “root of life” in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and they purify our blood and support our body’s natural cleansing processes. If they are functioning well, your energy levels will still be going strong at this time. If you’ve noticed a drop, your adrenals need some assistance, so swap that glass of wine for an earlier bedtime. You
should also:

7pm to 9pm: The pericardium

The job of the pericardium is an important one — it works hard to support our heart function. This time period is all about “unwinding” and preparing your body for sleep, so to support pericardium health:

9pm to 11pm: The triple heater

This is ideally the time we should be easing into sleep to keep our endocrine and metabolic systems regulated and conserve energy for the next day. If the triple heater is out of balance, you may experience feelings of cognitive confusion or hopelessness. In terms of Chinese medicine body clock tips:

11pm to 1am: The gallbladder

The gallbladder works hard to repair damaged cells and build new ones, so these hours are when regeneration happens. In Chinese medicine, the gallbladder is related to decision making, so if you struggle to do this, you may also be struggling to sleep during this time.

If you find yourself scrolling on your phone, you may be interfering with your gallbladder’s ability to digest good fats and excrete bile. The next day, you will probably also have low self-esteem and feel indecisive. Tips for gallbladder health include:

1am to 3am: The liver

The liver plays a vital role in detoxifying the body, cleansing our blood and processing our emotions, and deep sleep is crucial at this time. If you are waking up, your liver is overloaded, you have an unhealthy diet, are experiencing high levels of stress, have consumed excess alcohol that night, or your nervous system is stuck in a state of “fight or flight”. The following day you will also probably have low energy and feelings of angst. Tips for “liver time” include:

3am to 5am: The lungs

This is still “yin” time, so hopefully, you are still sleeping! Beyond breathing, our lungs keep our immune system healthy and help us move energy through our bodies. If you are waking at this time, you may have an imbalance in your lungs and coughing and wheezing may occur. Sadness and grief are emotions linked to the lungs, so if you are feeling stress or emotional tension, it may also be decreasing your ability to take deep breaths. Tips for “lung time” include: