Chronobiology is the study of biologic rhythms including circadian rhythms that follow a daily or 24-hour cycle. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a circadian rhythm. Medical chronobiology is a relatively new field that explores the impact of circadian rhythm or other patterns on human diseases. This is not new to Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. For thousands of years Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have had a system in place for organizing one’s daily routine, the body clock. Choosing specific mealtimes, creating a proper sleep cycle, and timing your activities can help you to restore your balance and improve your health.
Body clocks are great guidelines for when to do or not to do certain things to maintain balance. Body clocks are also helpful for your practitioner as a diagnostic tool to understand why things happen and why they do at a certain time of day. If you disrupted sleep, your practitioner may ask what time you are waking up in the middle of the night. If you have low energy, your practitioner will often ask what time you notice the energy shift throughout the day. If you're a shift worker, you may heal slower or not at all if you are not sleeping during the proper sleep time. There is a reason for everything in Chinese Medicine.
The body clock in Chinese Medicine focuses on two 12 hour parts. The first part begins at 3 am and focuses on elimination and digestion, the second 12 hour part is related to filtering and cleansing. This Body Clock is based on the idea you can make the most of your energy and specific organs by using them when they are at their peak. The vital force or Qi is strongest with certain organ systems and certain paired times.
Aligning our hectic modern-day lives to these ancient clocks can prove challenging but making the effort can lead to a lifetime of good health. This road map can help guide you towards working with your body and not against it. The body is highly intelligent and if we work within this frame, none of the organs will overwork. For example, it’s best to be in bed by 9 pm for proper cleansing so it will make a difference if one goes to sleep at 10 pm or 1 am. There is a time for everything. The body has been engineered in this way so that we can function properly and be in line with nature.
Each of the twelve regular meridians have a designated two hour period of time during a 24-hour day. The systems that are a fundamental part of meridian systems theory have been described by several classical and traditional sources, including the Nei Jing (Inner Classic) and the Shang Han Lun. Take a look at an introduction to the Body Clock:
3AM - 5AM THE LUNGS | Detox lungs, breath work
5AM - 7AM LARGE INTESTINE | Drink water, bowel movement
7AM - 9AM THE STOMACH | Breakfast, Walk
9AM - 11AM THE SPLEEN | Clear thinking
11AM - 1PM THE HEART | Blood circulation, exercise, eat lunch
1PM - 3PM THE SMALL INTESTINE | Rest post meal
3PM - 5PM THE BLADDER | Energy returned, focus for study
5PM - 7PM THE KIDNEY | Dinner
7PM - 9PM THE PERICARDIUM | Self time or partner time
9PM - 11PM TRIPLE BURNER | Endocrine and metabolism, begin sleep
11PM - 1AM GALL BLADDER | Sleep, cellular repair, build blood
1AM - 3AM: THE LIVER | Deep sleep, detox blood
Education around the Chinese Medicine clock is one of the many topics we can cover during a Virtual Wellness Consultation. If you're interested in learning more about how you can align your day to live a better life, book time with our team and start on your path to living a Chinese medicine lifestyle.