Anti-aging and the 12 Time Periods


Alex Chen, Ph.D., O.M.D., L.Ac.

According to Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), anti-aging can be carried out according to the different time periods within a day. In Chinese Medicine, a day can be broken into 12 time periods, with each time period equivalent to 2 hours. Each of these time periods belongs to a specific organ, as follows:

During each of these time periods, there are things to do and things not to do to keep ourselves looking and feeling young and healthy.

Time: 11 pm to 1 am

  • Organ: Gallbladder (in charge of guts)
  • What to do:
    • Be asleep by 11pm to protect sprouting yang
  • What not to do:
    • Eat too much (all blood will go to digestive system, no qi will go to head/shen)
    • Sexual intercourse (will destroy yang when you should preserve it)

Time: 1 am to 3 am

  • Organ: Liver (in charge of the storage of blood; tonify blood constantly – rest is good way to accumulate and tonify blood)
  • What to do:
    • Be asleep without interference to nourish Liver blood
  • What not to do:
    • Be awake, and even worse, be out socializing (drinking)

Time: 3 am to 5 am

  • Organ: Lung (in charge of qi; using qi to push blood to different organs)
  • What to do:
    • Be in deep sleep
  • What not to do:
    • Wake up
    • Elderly people wake up early, compared to young people because all the organs have declined compared to the young people. Lung qi is the most deficient in those who wake up during this time.

Time: 5 am to 7 am

  • Organ: Large Intestine
  • What to do:
    • Wake up (also known as Opening the Gate of Heaven)
    • Empty your bowels (Open the Gate of Earth)

Time: 7 am to 9 am

  • Organ: Stomach
  • What to do:
    • Eat breakfast
    • During this time the digestive system is at its strongest and can function most optimally with all the qi and blood going to the stomach, which is why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So eat food rich in nutrients during this time for it to be maximally absorbed.

Time: 9 am to 11 am

  • Organ: Spleen
  • What to do:
    • Digest and turn the food that you ate into gu qi (nutrient qi)

Time: 11 am to 1 pm

  • Organ: Heart
  • What to do:
    • Rest, take a nap
    • This is the time when little yin starts to sprout and yang is at its peak. This is also when yin and yang exchanges qi, which means the qi is moving from du to ren or from ren to du meridian.
  • What not to do:
    • Exercise

Time: 1 pm to 3 pm

  • Organ: Small Intestine
  • What to do:
    • Digest

Time: 3 pm to 5 pm

  • Organ: Urinary Bladder
  • What to do:
    • Study to sharpen mental acuity

Time: 5 pm to 7 pm

  • Organ: Kidney
  • What to do:
    • Nourish the Kidney Essence

Time: 7 pm to 9 pm

  • Organ: Pericardium
  • What to do:
    • Relax, do things with the opposite sex that makes you happy and feel in harmony.

Time: 9 pm to 11 pm

  • Organ: San Jiao
  • What to do:
    • Sexual intercourse

About the Author
Dr. Alex Chen is a master of herbs, qi gong and tui-na. He has taught at South Baylo University, Yuin University and Royal University of America as well as teaching numerous professional and continuing education seminars in the U.S. and abroad. His love for Oriental Medicine is evident through his life-long devotion to the profession, and reflected by the passion and dedication he embodies, and the inspiration he provides to his children to pursue the same career path.

To learn more about anti-aging, click here to view a complete list of courses by Alex Chen.