Insomnia and The Chinese Body Clock

“I wake up every morning between 1am and 3am and then I am wide awake. By the time I fall asleep again, the alarm goes off and I have to get up”. This is something I hear frequently in practice and it is no wonder. We live in very stressful times, everything is fast paced. Long standing stress will start affecting the physical body, and one of the things that could get affected is our sleep pattern. For a doctor of oriental medicine and homeopathy, this seemingly unimportant part, the time of waking, makes the difference between treating the root cause or just the branch. In other words, this means effectively treating the symptom (insomnia) of an underlying imbalance (liver). No chronic prescribed medicine, no chronic insomnia.

We are all familiar with the body’s biological clock, but what about the Chinese body clock? This is based on the idea that you can make the most of your energy, specific organs and bodily functions when they are at their peak. Let me explain this in more detail. 

The Chinese body clock is built on the concept of qi (energy or vital force). During 24 hours qi is thought to move in two hour intervals throughout the body. Each two hours represent an organ. Think of it this way, each organ has a repair or maintenance schedule for two hours on a daily basis. This insight offers the doctor and patient the opportunity to identify which organ system and emotion needs strengthening or resolving. For thousands of years traditional Chinese medicine has given us insights into how our organs function and if there is an imbalance, how it impacts us physically and emotionally. 

One of the two hour intervals is between 1am and 3am. This is liver time. Deep sleep is crucial at this time. The liver plays a vital role in detoxifying the body, cleansing the blood and processing emotions. If you find yourself waking up at this time, your liver needs balancing. Things that could contribute to liver imbalance are high levels of stress, an unhealthy diet consisting of a lot of junk food or over consumption of alcohol. Emotions that may affect the liver are things like anger, suppressed anger, irritability, long standing resentment and frustration. Make time for yourself, reduce stress in your life, meditate, go for a massage or acupuncture, exercise, do what makes you happy and reduce your cortisol levels. Focus on a healthy diet and reduce alcohol intake.

I have treated many patients successfully for insomnia. Liver imbalance is but one example of a cause of insomnia that can easily be treated without the side effects of chronic medication.