How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help You Become A Morning Person
How often have you heard the sentence "I'm not a morning person; I'm a night owl!"? Maybe you even say it to yourself. I need to tell you, though, that unless you actually sit up on a perch hooting all night long, this is inherently untrue.
Human beings have evolved through a lengthy process of change governed by natural laws. Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature and followed her lead since they knew that failing to do so would threaten their survival. They paid great attention to the 24-hour cycle of the sun, noting how their physical, mental, and emotional health mirrored the sun's natural shifts.
The ancient Chinese took this knowledge a step further with the Law of Midday & Midnight, or the Chinese Clock. This concept teaches that 12 of our internal organs are governed by the day's cycle, each functioning with more energy and vitality during a certain two-hour period every day. At the opposite side of the clock, that organ receives its lowest ebb of energy.
Here's how this ancient philosophy breaks up the day. Keep it in mind and you just might notice your internal clock resetting to give you that boost of energy you need to finally become a morning person.
How to reset your internal clock
Bedtime and sleep
Let's start with a lifestyle choice that is manageable and easy to adjust: your sleep. The saying "An hour before midnight is worth the two after,” rings true under the Chinese Clock, since between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., the gallbladder uses its peak energy to take us into a deep and nourishing sleep. Get to sleep by 11 p.m. to give yourself the best chance to click into the natural rhythm of night and day.
At 1 a.m., the wave of peak energy shifts into the liver. While we snooze and dream, this mighty organ processes toxins, giving us a fresh start the following day. At 3 a.m., the energy fills the lungs and we begin to breathe more deeply, oxygenating every cell in our body.
Between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., the large intestine receives its increase in energy. This is the optimal time to excrete waste, so the appropriate place to be at this time is not in bed but on the toilet (but not for the whole two hours, of course). Missing this window to excrete waste leaves all of the other organs feeling toxic and sluggish.
Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., make sure to eat a hearty breakfast, since this is the optimal time to take nourishing food into the body. If you miss this invaluable digestive slot, you will carry excessive waste and have low energy throughout the rest of the day.
Get on with the day's tasks from 9 a.m. through to 11 a.m. During this time, the spleen delivers the energy derived from our breakfast to our mind and our muscles and gives us the power to work efficiently. Tasks are easy to complete and our thinking is clear.
Good habits and good work deserve a reward. Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the heart takes center stage, so take a break and chat with colleagues, check in with friends and family, or enjoy a social lunch.
Now, it's time to reflect, review, and sort things out. From 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., take a more relaxed approach to work as the small intestine digests, filters, and ensures your body and mind is kept clear. By 3 p.m., you should make sure that your body is hydrated so your bladder can properly function and distribute energy and fluid to every nook and cranny of your body, mind, and spirit.
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the kidney brings a deep sense of calm. Slow down and transition from the business of the day to the more lighthearted activities of evening and night. At 7 p.m., relax. The function known as "Circulation/Sex" comes to the fore, and it is your time to pull back, chill out, and enjoy yourself and those around you.
And finally, at 9 p.m., start to wind down. For the next two hours, the function known as "The Three Heater" takes the heat out of the day and gently settles us down for a peaceful and restful sleep.
To learn more about how to apply Chinese philosophy to your own life, check out my book Everything You Need You Have: How to be at Home in Your Self.