Before I studied Chinese Medicine, I was aware that I felt differently at different times of the day, but I didn’t really know why. For example, if I had an early meeting and missed the window to empty my bowel, it probably wouldn’t happen for that day. And I had to wait for the next day.
Now I know why.
According to Chinese Medicine, our internal energy (Qi) circulates rhythmically from day through night. Every two hours mark the peak, or optimal functioning, of a particular organ.
Let’s start from the early morning.
Lung peaks from 3am to 5am.
This is the time when our body begins to wake up, shifting from the night to the day, from yin to yang. This is usually a good time to rise and practice meditation, Qigong or Tai Chi.
Large intestine peaks from 5am to 7am.
This is the optimal time to go to the bathroom and empty your bowl.
Stomach peaks from 7am to 9am, and Spleen peaks from 9am to 11am.
This is the time of optimal digestion and dissemination of nutrients, and helps to explain why the first meal of the day is so important for maintaining good energy throughout the day.
Heart peaks from 11am to 1pm. Small intestine peaks from 1pm to 3pm.
The fire/yang energy is the strongest at this time. So it is usually not advised to engage in strenuous exercise under the blazing sun to further flare up the fire energy. Instead, most people living in China take advantage of this window for an after-lunch power nap.
Urinary bladder peaks from 3pm to 5pm. Kidney peaks from 5pm to 7pm.
The energy of the day begins to shift from the hot, intense yang energy to the cooler and softer water energy. It’s time to gradually slow down, switching our gear from giving to receiving, from activity to rest and relaxation.
By the way, 5pm-7pm is a wonderful window for energy cultivation practices such as yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi. It helps to build up your energy reserve for future use.
Pericardium peaks from 7pm to 9pm. Triple burner (the water irrigation system of the body) peaks from 9pm to 11pm.
Gallbladder peaks from 11pm to 1am. Liver peaks from 1am to 3am.
This is the optimal time for sleep, allowing the body’s metabolism to slow down so the liver can do its job of processing and storing blood.
Knowing the daily energy cycle can give you a new level of awareness and understanding of how your various organs function.
In general, if a particular organ is in a state of excess (hyper-function), the related symptoms tend to show up during its peak hours. On the contrary, deficiency (hypo-function) symptoms tend to show up during the opposite hours.
For example, people subject to migraines often wake up with a severe headache (excess symptom) during the peak function of liver, between 1am and 3am. They may also experience fatigue and mental lethargy (deficiency symptoms) between 1pm and 3pm, after lunch.
I find this daily energy cycle fascinating. It helps me gain a better understanding of how my energy ebbs and flows during the day, so I can learn to live in harmony with it, rather than against it.
What’s your daily energy cycle like? Are you living in sync with it?