Best Daily Rhythm for Life according to TCM

Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the correspondence between nature and human beings and tends to observe the human body about the earth and the universe. It believes that there is a regular connection between human beings and the environment and climate. If people follow this regularity in their daily routine, they can maintain health and longevity. Therefore, sleeping and eating at fixed times are very important for health. Today, we will introduce the recommended daily rhythm of Traditional Chinese Medicine.


1. The hour of the Mouse (23:00-1:00)

At this time, the gallbladder meridian is most active, and we need to lie down and sleep. Traditional Chinese medicine theory believes that “the surplus of liver qi gathers in the gallbladder and condenses into essence. The gallbladder is the organ of righteousness, and the five zang organs and six fu organs rely on the gallbladder. Qi strengthens the gallbladder and evils cannot invade it. If the gallbladder qi is weak, one will be timid and unable to make decisions.” It can be seen that the gallbladder is very important. Cutting off the gallbladder casually is reckless behavior. Bile needs to be metabolized. If a person falls asleep before 23:00, the gallbladder can complete the metabolism. “The clearer the bile, the clearer the brain.” Those who fall asleep 1-2 hours before 23:00 wake up with clear minds and rosy complexions. On the other hand, those who do not fall asleep before Zi Shi often have pale complexions, especially when bile cannot be metabolized normally and becomes thick and crystallized, like salt that has been evaporated and dried in seawater, leading to diseases such as gallstones. Some people will also become “gallbladder timid” as a result. The hour of the Mouse is the darkest time of the day, and yang qi begins to grow. The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon says, “All eleven organs depend on the gallbladder.” Depending on the growth of the gallbladder, the qi and blood of the whole body can rise accordingly. Maintaining sleep during Zi Shi is crucial for the day.

2. The hour of the Ox (1:00-3:00 AM)

The liver meridian is most active, and we need to be in a deep sleep state. “The liver stores blood” to support the human mind and actions. Old blood needs to be eliminated, and fresh blood needs to be generated. This metabolic process is usually completed during the hour of the Ox when the liver meridian is most active. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, “when a person is lying down, the blood returns to the liver.” If one cannot fall asleep during this time, the liver will continue to output energy to support human thinking and actions, and will not be able to complete the metabolism. Therefore, those who do not fall asleep before the hour of the Ox will have a pale face, fatigue, restlessness, and are prone to liver disease.

3. The hour of the Tiger (3:00-5:00 AM)

The lung meridian is most active, making it a good time to nourish the lungs. “The lungs govern the hundred vessels.” After the liver meridian pushes old blood out and generates fresh blood, it provides fresh blood to the lungs, which sends it throughout the body. Therefore, a person’s face is usually rosy and energetic in the early morning. Those who are ill often have a stronger reaction during the hour of the Tiger. Usually, coughing occurs during this time, and it is best to let it happen to fully cough out waste air from the lungs.

4. The hour of the Rabbit (5:00-7:00 AM)

The large intestine meridian is most active. It is a good time to move around and facilitate bowel movements. Only when the lung qi is sufficient can there be bowel movements. “The lungs and large intestine are mutually related.” The lungs fill the body with fresh blood, then promote the large intestine meridian to enter an excited state and complete the process of absorbing water and nutrients from food and excreting waste.

5. The hour of the Dragon (7:00-9:00 AM)

The stomach meridian is most active. Eating breakfast at 7 am is the easiest time for digestion. If there is too much heat in the stomach, the lips will be dry, and in severe cases, they may crack or develop sores. Eating breakfast at this time is to replenish nutrients. This is the time when the yang energy of heaven and earth is most active, making it the easiest time to digest. Eating too much breakfast will not make you gain weight. Because the spleen meridian and stomach meridian are in charge of digestion, breakfast must be eaten well and in large quantities. Eating breakfast is as precious as “spring rain is as precious as oil.”

6. The hour of the Snake (9:00-11:00 AM)

The spleen meridian is the most active. “The spleen governs transportation and controls blood.” The spleen is responsible for the overall coordination of digestion, absorption, and excretion, and is also the commander-in-chief of the body’s blood. “The spleen opens to the mouth, and its brilliance is in the lips.” When the spleen function is good, digestion and absorption are good, and the quality of blood is good, resulting in rosy lips. White lips indicate insufficient blood and qi, while dark or purple lips indicate cold entering the spleen meridian. The spleen is a busy little maid. If she is sick, the body’s major organs will be uncomfortable, and one may develop so-called “rich and noble diseases,” such as diabetes. If the body experiences problems such as thinness, drooling, and edema, they are all considered spleen diseases.

7. The hour of the Horse (11:00-13:00 PM)

The heart meridian is the most active. “The heart governs the spirit, opens to the tongue, and its brilliance is in the face.” The heart qi drives the circulation of blood, nourishing the spirit, qi, and tendons. Napping for a while during the hour of the Horse is good for the heart, and it can make one energetic in the afternoon and evening.

8. The hour of the Goat (1:00-3:00 PM)

The small intestine meridian is the most active. The small intestine separates the clear from the turbid, sends water to the bladder, and sends waste to the large intestine for excretion. During the hour of the Goat, the small intestine adjusts the body’s nutrition for the day.

9.The hour of the Monkey (3:00-5:00 PM)

The bladder meridian is the most active. The bladder stores water and fluid, and discharges water outside the body while circulating fluid inside the body. If the bladder is hot, it can cause bladder cough and even coughing and incontinence. The bladder meridian runs from the heel along the back of the lower leg and spine to the head, and is a major meridian.

10. The hour of the Rooster (5:00-7:00 PM)

The kidney meridian is the most active. “The kidney stores reproductive essence and the essence of the five zang organs and six fu organs. The kidney is the root of innate constitution.” After the body detoxifies during the hour of the Monkey, the kidneys enter a phase of storing essences during the hour of the Rooster. The kidney is in charge of storing essence. A person’s essence is like “money” in a household, it can buy anything and can be converted into anything. Whenever there is a problem in the body’s cellular tissues, the “essence” will become it or help it. The essence is the most creative force in the human body. When one needs something, they can obtain it by tapping into their essence.

11. The hour of the Dog (7:00-9:00 PM)

The pericardium meridian is the most active. The pericardium is the protective tissue of the heart and also a channel for qi and blood. During the hour of the Dog, it can clear external evils around the heart and keep it in good condition. If the pericardium is affected by evil, it can affect the heart function, so many heart diseases can be attributed to the pericardium meridian. If you feel your heart beating fast, it may be due to the pericardium being affected by evil. The principle of Chinese medicine treatment is to start from the organs and go to the fu organs. Therefore, understanding the meridians can help treat such diseases. In addition, the pericardium meridian is also in charge of joy and happiness, so at this time, the body should have some entertainment.

12. The hour of the Pig (9:00-11:00 PM)

The Sanjiao meridian is the most active. The Sanjiao is the largest fu organ and is responsible for regulating all the body’s qi and clearing the water passages. During the hour of the Pig, the Sanjiao can regulate the body and help it rest and recuperate. The common characteristic of centenarians is that they sleep during this hour. However, modern people rarely achieve this, so there are fewer people with rosy faces and more girls who apply makeup. At this time, we should rest, let our bodies and souls immerse themselves in the warm darkness, and let our lives and bodies experience rebirth through rest.

Yuanyuan knows that with the accelerating pace of life, having a regular lifestyle has become a luxury. However, she hopes that everyone can still make an effort to establish a regular routine for themselves. Do not let the burden of work overwhelm your right to good health. Let us encourage each other in this endeavor.


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2 thoughts on “Best Daily Rhythm for Life according to TCM”

  1. Do you know where I can look to find more info about the animals in the Chinese Zodiac & how they relate to the 12 Earthly Branches? Why are the animals used & how do they exactly relate to each one? I assume it has to do with astrology?

  2. User Avatar

    Hi David,
    Thanks for reading the article on OTCM Acupuncture Milton.
    As far as I know, the relationship between animals and the Earth’s branches is only in the year. I used the animal with the Earthly Branches in my article only because many people are very unfamiliar with the Earthly Branches. I want people to memorize these concepts faster, that’s all.
    As for the reason why these animals are related to the Earthly Branch in terms of years. I think it has something to do with people’s long-term observation. For example, people born in the year of the Rabbit are usually gentle, those born in the year of the Tiger are usually ambitious, and those born in the year of the Horse are usually more industrious. Even, the activities of an animal during the year are mapped to the character and destiny of the person.
    For example, the tiger in October will take over the mountain, so people born in October in the year of the tiger will be more ambitious. Chicks born in the month of Lunar New Year are fattened up for the New Year’s Eve slaughter. So a person born in December of the year Chiken will usually be well-fed. (Of course we won’t emphasize the fact that it will be slaughtered).
    In addition, due to some Chinese proverbs, such as, 鸡飞狗跳 the chicken flies and the dog jumps, 鸡犬不宁 the chicken and the dog are not in peace, so we think that people born in the year of the Rooster, often have a small conflict with those born in the year of the Dog. And so on.
    So, I think it’s a matter of observation over the years, and public awareness that has led to the association of animals with the twelve earthly branches.

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