Most of us believe that the body clock, or circadian rhythm, controls when we go to sleep and wake up. (For example, we sleep when it's dark and are active when it's bright—that's how it's supposed to work.) Through ancient Chinese medical wisdom, your inner timekeeper has much more to offer.
According to the 2,500-year-old school of thought, your body's functions are associated with a unique time on your inner clock. Mona Dan, an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of Vie Healing in Los Angeles, says, "Each organ has a two-hour period in which it's in the spotlight daily." This is when that organ and its meridians are most energized, affecting everything from your emotions to your productivity. Dan suggests you alter your mindset about time by viewing it through the TCM lens. For example, you can hang out with your friends between 11 am and 1 pm since positive heart energy is at its peak. It's a wrong time to drink alcohol under the TCM program, however, as 5 pm to 7 pm is when we are encouraged to recharge our life-force energy.
The value of TCM practitioners' information is that they believe your daily changes in vitality can reveal health problems that are otherwise difficult to detect. Dan says that the meridians' energy will be low if they are not flowing correctly. We receive clues about our hidden health issues by observing their symptoms. According to Dan, these symptoms will enable us to learn what's going on and what we specifically need. For example, you may be waking up at a particular time every night. According to Dan, the TCM body clock may also help you discover what may be causing your insomnia.
In this article, she describes the TCM body clock and how we might optimize it through diet and lifestyle choices. It's a roadmap that directs us toward working with our bodies natural rhythms rather than against them.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is the best way to schedule time for your physical and mental well-being.
3–5 am: Snooze peacefully
Actions: Early stirring and soft breathing
Emotions being processed: Grief and sadness
Very early morning, when most people are still fast asleep, is an excellent time to do lung exercises. Gentle breathing is one such exercise. It helps you to express your sadness and grief.
There's good news if you're already making these noises during sleep: soft inhales and exhales. Because you breathe slowly and gently during sleep, Dan says your body is getting oxygen and enriching itself. During sleep, your body handles toxic waste and improves immunity by slowly exhaling. It may signify sadness or grief if you frequently wake up during these hours. If you're coughing or producing mucus from a nice Nick Jonas dream, you may have to alter your lifestyle or diet (or both). A TCM practitioner may help you.
5–7 am: Drink some warm water and do a soft workout
Organ: Large intestine
Actions: Waking up and radiating
Emotions being processed: Guilt and stagnation
Dan recommends beginning the day with a warm glass of water rather than a hot cup of coffee. Coffee in the morning releases too much cortisol throughout the day, which leads to a mid-afternoon crash, according to Dan. Caffeine, on the other hand, leads to too much cortisol throughout the day, according to Dan. Dan says that when you awaken in the morning, you should allow yourself some time to unwind and naturally detox. This allows you to physically and emotionally process guilt and stagnation, which are associated with this time. Dan recommends physically releasing your internal excess to assist with your emotions. Is anyone interested in a walk in the park?
7–9 am: Eat a warming breakfast
Actions: Eating and nurturing
Emotions being processed: Affliction
"Poor nourishment at this time of day will increase the despair and generate the energy necessary to deal with it." Dan encourages clients to consume a large breakfast as part of TCM. He says that a hot cup of tea is recommended to increase the energy level and strengthen the body's defenses against colds. Cold smoothie bowls and shakes are not recommended because TCM thinks they may cause stomach muscles to constrict and cease working. In addition to being in the cold, your internal organs feel like you do.
9–11 am: Do your most demanding mental tasks.
Organs: Pancreas and spleen
Actions: Judging and working
Emotions being processed: Jealousy, anxiety, and low self-esteem
According to Dan, the digestion system is the most important of the Chinese medicine spleen. "You can still fit in a good breakfast if you haven't eaten yet," he says. The spleen is essential in creating blood; it is critical in the digestion of food. (Excellent news for late risers.) You can operate mentally when your spleen converts food into usable energy. According to Dan, this improves your confidence, which allows you to avoid jealousy and low self-esteem.
11 am-1 pm: Eat a light lunch with buddies
Actions: Engaging and devouring
Emotions being processed: Joy or frightful sorrow
Dan suggests keeping things light and cheerful during these hours by avoiding excessively taxing the body. "This is an excellent time to enjoy a less substantial meal than breakfast," she says. "For a joyful heart, have a pleasant lunch over a good conversation." Then, no sad desk salads.
1–3 pm: Be detail-oriented.
Organ: Small intestine
Actions: Sorting the good from the bad and organizing.
Emotions being processed: Insecurity
After eating a second meal, the body separates usable energy from waste, says Dan. "This process puts things into perspective for the body," he says. It's, therefore, more common to experience indigestion or bloating at this time (another reason to have a light lunch). During this time, you're also processing emotionally, and if insecurity comes up, take note and try to handle it rather than repress it.
3–5 pm: Snack on something with salty
Action: Dedicating and storing
Emotions being processed: Irritation, moving energy internally
According to Dan, energy slumps are most likely to occur during this period. 'Our bodies are preparing for bed when we get off work,' she says. 'Because people often desire to get started on their evenings immediately after work, their energy levels are lower.' Dan suggests that you delay consuming caffeine in the early mornings so that your body only consumes a little energy early in the day. 'Consuming just a little salt at this time keeps the bladder content,' says TCM professional Mary Danner.
5–7 pm: Begin to wind down
Actions: Refilling vital energy
Emotions being processed: Fear
According to Dan, you might have adrenal problems if you feel exhausted at this time of day. "Adrenal fatigue can cause physical symptoms such as a dip in libido, lower back pain, and premature graying of the hair," says Dan. "Adrenal fatigue can induce feelings of fear during this time of day if their health is poor, says Dan. After-work drinks are a big no-no if you work late or work late and have rowdy after-work drinks regularly. Consider swapping them for more relaxation.
7–9 pm: Prioritize self-care and quality time with family and friends.
Action: Emotional support
Emotions being processed: Extreme euphoria and compassion
According to Dan, these hours are excellent for meditating, stretching gently, spending time with a loved one, or bathing (all of which I heartily endorse). Your pericardium supports heart function, so if you're not a biologist, be aware that it is protecting you.
9–11 pm: Hydrate before bed
Organ: Metabolism, blood vessels
Action: Unwinding and hydrating
Emotions being processed: Despair and bewilderment
According to Dan, your adrenals and thyroid are most affected by your blood vessels, metabolism, and hydration. It's crucial to get adequate sleep and rest during this time to maintain your health. If you are experiencing headaches or tired, you may need hydration to boost your metabolism and aid in blood repair and support.
11 pm-1 am: Lights out
Action: Sleeping and rejuvenating
Emotions being processed: Uncertainty and irritation
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the gallbladder helps the body regenerate and heal during this period (Dan, 2018). According to Dan, indecisiveness and resentment are associated with physical muscular issues that may hinder regeneration. A massage may help you get to sleep faster, as well as relax. It is also connected to an emotional battle with indecisiveness and resentment. If you're not resting by 11 pm, you may need help digesting fats and making decisions. The gallbladder produces bile and digests healthy fats.
1–3 am: Seriously, close your eyes and sleep!
Action: Slumber and dreaming
Emotions being processed: Anger, anxiety, and frustration
According to TCM, the liver houses blood and governs your impulsive feelings. According to Dan, keeping your liver content allows your feelings to remain under control. If you usually stay out late, sleeping earlier is a great idea. If you're awakening between 1 and 3 am, you may be dealing with unresolved anger, anxiety, or irritation, says Dan. Of course, you want to sleep well, so you should investigate if you're awakening in the middle of the night.
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