You wake up, still groggy, half open your eyes and see it’s still dark out, you glance at the clock and of course it’s _______ fill in the blank with the time that you always seem to see on the clock!
It’s not uncommon to wake up once or twice during the night, some of us do and turn over, but have no memory of doing so. After two decades of sleep issues, I can happily say that’s me…now. However, I’m sure if you’re reading this either you or someone you love is waking up regularly in the middle of the night. There are lots of factors that can cause this, simple controllable things like not having a healthy bedtime routine (eg: going to bed at the same time, limiting screen time before bed, etc.), drinking alcohol or caffeine late in the day, being exposed to chemicals and toxins, to more serious health conditions or sleep disorders.
I’ve heard that if you wake up at a specific time every night that there’s typically an underlying issue. Let me point out that some of our western medicine thoughts around this is nothing more than coincidence or happenstance. While our eastern medicine friends firmly believe that there’s a reason you’re consistently waking up at the same time and I tend to agree. This is known as our Organ Body Clock
Last week I talked about our circadian rhythms – the way our bodies react to light and darkness. In doing research for this post, I learned that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes not only in the idea of the 24-hour circadian rhythm, but that our major organs have 2 hours windows in which they operate at their peak - TCM Organ Body Clock. I think they're onto something! And since I'm all about treating the root cause of a problem verses masking the symptoms this makes perfect sense. So, let’s look at what organs correlate with what time periods, the emotions that are stirred and what we can do about it.
7PM - 9PM | PERICARDIUM/HEART
Organ Function: The pericardium is a fibrous double-walled sac containing the heart. It keeps our heart safe from infection and forceful impact.
Balanced Response: happiness, boundaries, confidence, self-acceptance, openness
Imbalanced Response: fear, anxiety, vulnerability, hopelessness, lacking confidence
Essential Oils to Consider: Basil, Bergamot, Birch, Cassia/Cinnamon, Cypress, Jasmine, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Myrrh, Patchouli, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, Spearmint, Spikenard
Diet/Habits to Consider: Eat smaller portions at dinner, keeping a gratitude journal, connecting with family, practicing self-care regularly, and develop a good bedtime routine – going to bed at the same time, avoiding screens, etc.
9PM - 11PM | TRIPLE BURNER/SAN JIAO
Organ Function: As the name implies, Triple Burner, isn’t a single organ. According to Wikipedia, the upper burner relates to organs in the thorax and the breathing function, the middle burner relates to the stomach and digestive functions, and the lower burner relates to the organs below the abdomen and urogenital functions (urinary & genitals).
Balanced Response: insight, good nature, cooperative, welcoming
Imbalanced Response: confusion, suspicion, guilt, opinionated, skepticism, hesitation
Essential Oils to Consider: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Copaiba, Lemon, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary
Diet/Habits to Consider: Going to bed earlier, avoiding stimulating activity, media and even audio - music or talking, use a weighted blanket, create a soothing bedtime routine: take a bath, diffuse essential oils, drink decaffeinated sleepy time tea, such as Bergamot.
11PM - 1 AM | GALLBLADDER
Organ Function: The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver and helps break down fatty foods (it is not a required organ).
Balanced Response: confident, fearless, optimistic, initiative
Imbalanced Response: procrastination, indecisive, skepticism, fearful
Essential Oils to Consider: Birch, Blue Tansy, Cassia/Cinnamon, Cypress, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Lemon, Myrrh, Peppermint, Spikenard
Diet/Habits to Consider: Reduce fat intake, fried and processed foods, and eat smaller portions especially at dinner.
1AM - 3AM | LIVER
Organ Function: The liver regulates most of the bodies chemical levels in the blood and excretes bile (that the gallbladder stores) that carries waste away from the liver.
Balanced Response: creative, intuitive, confidence, optimism, grounded
Imbalanced Response: anger, frustration, moodiness, resentment, abandoned
Essential Oils to Consider: Cardamom, Frankincense, Geranium, Manuka, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Roman Chamomile, Spikenard, Thyme, White Fir, Ylang Ylang
Diet/Habits to Consider: Use blue-light filters, switch to non-toxic cleaning and personal care products (pro tip: avoid the word fragrance), limit or avoid alcohol consumption, and get your body moving for at least 20 minutes a day.
3AM - 5AM | LUNGS
Organ Function: The lungs help us breathe in and out.
Balanced Response: simplicity, clarity, acceptance, welcoming
Imbalanced Response: sentimental, loneliness, sorrow, grief, abandonment
Essential Oils to Consider: Cedarwood, Frankincense, Geranium, Lime, Manuka, Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Siberian Fir, Ylang Ylang
Diet/Habits to Consider: Practice deep breathing exercises, daily walks, meditation and/or yoga, if grieving, speaking to a counselor could be helpful to release feelings appropriately.
5AM - 7AM | LARGE INTESTINE
Organ Function: The large intestine absorbs water and salts from our food and gets rid of the waste that’s not digested.
Balanced: adaptability, freeing, self-expression, creativity, assertiveness
Imbalanced: stubbornness, controlling, blunt, ornery, relentless, and stuck
Essential Oils to Consider: Arborvitae, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cypress, Oregano, Sandalwood, Wintergreen
Diet/Habits to Consider: Drink lots of water (half your body weight in ounces), and eat a high fiber diet: leafy greens and veggies – mostly cooked.
I realize I only gave you a broad overview of the essential oils and tips for changing up your diet or habits, so you may still be scratching your head with where to start, if you’re planning on using natural solutions to try to remedy your sleep issues. As repetitive as it may be to some of my readers, that’s what I’m here for. My “job” is to help you take the overwhelm out of using natural solutions, so please schedule a complementary 30 minute wellness consultation
with me and we can address your specific situation and needs and I can give you a more tailored plan to approach your desired outcome. I do have some expertise when it comes to sleep issues – I suffered from insomnia for over 20 years: everything from not being able to fall asleep, waking up at every hour, and vivid dreams that left me feeling unrested.
Hopeful to help you get your sleep under control, so the only time your see is when your alarm is set.