Why do I keep waking up at the same time every night?

Is this you? Do you predictably open your eyes in the middle of the night only to look at the clock and see the exact same time (or pretty darn close) you did the night before? And the night before? And before?

It’s not an uncanny coincidence. In Chinese medicine, there is actually a reason for this, which has to do with a fascinating concept called the Horary Clock. Chances are you’ve heard one of us explain to you what meridians are and how energy travels through them to every point in our bodies. If we understand this movement of energy as a circuit which repeats itself, then the Horary Clock explains the times of day that Qi, or energy, is most active in one meridian or another.

What’s more is that this helps us to understand where there might be problems within our bodies and how to time specific activities for when they will be the most helpful for us. Have a look below to better understand what times of day Qi is most active in each of the meridians:

  • 1-3am Liver
  • 3-5am Lung
  • 5-7am Large Intestine
  • 7-9am Stomach
  • 9-11am Spleen
  • 11am-1pm- Heart
  • 1-3pm- Small Intestine
  • 3-5pm- Bladder
  • 5-7pm Kidney
  • 7-9pm Pericardium
  • 9-11pm- San Jiao/Triple Burner
  • 11pm-1am- Gallbladder


This helps us know that we’re at the peak of our digestive abilities between 7-9am. It also helps us understand why we typically have bowel movements between 5-7am. Often hear me gently encouraging you to go to bed before midnight? Because the liver and gallbladder are highly involved in the cellular repair that helps us detoxify and regenerate. Being asleep during this time optimizes that function.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into a diagnosis in Chinese medicine, but if you frequently wake up during the night, the time you wake is one of them. Finding this out helps us get to the bottom of your pattern and sleep better. If this sounds like you, give us a call and find out how we can help!

Molly Kubinski, L.Ac., (FABORM)


Photo by Adam Kring on Unsplash