Do you ever have those days where you feel totally off-balance? Like you have the wrong kind of energy for every task on your list, you can’t quite get your timing right and by lunchtime you’re wishing for a do-over? You’re definitely not alone.
But what if we told you that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there’s a reason – and potentially a way to get back into a groove or routine?
TCM considers your mind, body and soul to be a scaled-down universe, and it also looks at the seasons of the year as important times of change. In addition, TCM sees each day as a cycle.
This Chinese body clock (sometimes called chronotherapy) could help you calibrate your routine in a way that just makes sense.
Read on to learn more – and how your body’s clock could make or break your routine.
What is the Chinese body clock?
TCM divides the 24 hours of a day into 12 cycles. During each of those two-hour time periods, a certain organ or system (sometimes literal and sometimes symbolic) is in charge and gets the body’s attention and energy. The specifics of which tasks and body functions happen at which times depend a lot on knowing how the elements, colors, organs, seasons, flavors, emotions and more interact and maintain equilibrium in TCM. But basically, maintaining a steady routine that aligns with your body clock can help ensure you don’t feel off-track or behind schedule.
Here’s a quick summary of which organ is in charge at each time and what that might look like IRL. For more info on working in alignment with your body clock, reach out to a local TCM practitioner, preferably one with cultural as well as educational connections to the practice.
3-5 a.m. | Lungs – Since they’re in charge of breathing, this is a good time to focus on that and not much else. Most of us are already sleeping at this time.
5-7 a.m. | Large intestine – Guess what’s at the end of your large intestine? Yep! This is why, ideally, we wake up and head to the bathroom soon after.
7-9 a.m. | Stomach – This is likely when your belly starts alerting you that it’s time to eat! Focus on nourishment now, with a nutrient-dense breakfast and some caffeine (but not too much). That means brewing up a pod of Good Morning Sunshine™ Coffee + Adaptogens to fight fatigue with more than just caffeine.*
9-11 a.m. | Spleen/pancreas – Time to get to work and focus on the biggest task of your day.
11 a.m.- 1 p.m. | Heart – Think about the philosophical version of the heart during this time. Step away from your desk for lunch and do something that brings you joy, even if it’s a quick text with a friend or TikTok dog videos.
1-3 p.m. | Small intestine – After lunch, it’s a good time to organize or work on tasks with a lot of details as the same is happening in your gut, in the form of nutrient assimilation and digestion.
3-5 p.m. | Bladder – While, yes, nature might call by now, the bladder is an organ that holds onto what the body decides is excess. Can you do the same with your energy or tasks list? You could cross off what’s no longer needed or reassess tomorrow’s to-do list.
5-7 p.m. | Kidneys – Resist the urge for more caffeine, especially this late in the day. Rehydrate if you haven’t had enough water today. Focus on starting to settle down for the day. Make and eat a light dinner and start to wean yourself off your screens. The kidneys serve as filters for your body, so think about filtering the good stuff from today and letting go of the rest.
7-9 p.m. | Pericardium – Since this is the part of the body that surrounds your heart, use this time to cultivate love and joy. Call a friend, spend time with your kids or do something you love.
9-11 p.m. | Triple burner – This trio goes by many names in TCM, and they don’t correspond with physical organs. Instead, these are meridians, or energy channels. You can think of it as a way to keep your energy flowing properly. This is a time to relax but also keep your energy going – it’s a good time to meditate, journal or read.
11 p.m.-1 a.m. | Gall bladder – Time for bed! In TCM, this is when your body needs to focus on recovering from the day physically, and that means you need to be asleep. If your sleep schedule could use some adjustments (and whose doesn’t?), make our Hello Dreams™ sleep strips with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbs part of your pre-bedtime ritual. Slip one onto your tongue about 5 to 10 minutes before you want to drift off. Let it melt, swallow and hit the hay. They’re formulated to help you sleep deep and awake restored.*
1-3 a.m. | Liver – As a cleansing organ, the liver needs time to help your body let go of what’s no longer needed. Eating a light dinner and getting to bed on time gives your liver the time it needs.
A Real-World Body Clock Routine That Aligns with TCM
The body clock is really fascinating, and it might help explain why, for example, you can’t quickly and coherently answer emails after dinner, why you wake up at 3 a.m. or why your digestion feels a little off in the mornings.
Here’s a quick look at what an ideal schedule might be, according to TCM:
6 a.m. | Wake up (feeling rested, since you ended your evening with Hello Dreams™!), stretch a little and drink a cup of water since it’s been several hours since you hydrated. Go to the bathroom. Do your workout.
7:30-9 a.m. | Get ready for the day, brew your Good Morning Sunshine™ and have a healthy breakfast. Head to work.
9-11 a.m. | Focus on the most important work tasks as part of your morning routine. You’re welcome to “save” your pod of smooth, Certified Organic coffee + adaptogens for this time if you prefer. If you’re hungry, have a small snack.
Noon | Take lunch away from your desk. Do something that makes you happy, even for a few minutes. Focus on managing stress – not adding to it!
1-3 p.m. | Back to work – it’s time to organize and look at the details. If you feel tired, take a short walk.
3-5 p.m. | Wind down your work day, have another snack if you want and start to plan for tomorrow.
5-7 p.m. | Head home, then make dinner and change into comfy clothes.
7-9 p.m. | Tidy up, prep for tomorrow and spend time doing what you love. This is when you should say “good night” to your phone and other screens.
9-11 p.m. | Get ready for bed – and make sure your Hello Dreams™ sleep strips are on your nightstand!
11 p.m. – 6 a.m. | Seven hours of restful, healthy sleep, so you’ll be ready for whatever tomorrow brings!
Your body clock never stops or starts – it just keeps on ticking. Start
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.