The Sanctuary of Sleep series Part Two – Why You Wake Up At The Same Time Every Night

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Have you ever wondered why you always seem to wake up during the night at particular times?

It’s not just an odd night here and there; after a while you begin to realise you’re waking up again and again, the nights of sleeping through a distant memory. You start to look at the clock and find it’s always at the same time – 2:55am or between certain hours like 4am to 5am. You’re not drinking coffee late in the afternoon, you’ve cut down on your much loved sugars and you’re fairly active during the day (incidentally, if you are drinking coffee all afternoon and you’re dipping into refined sugars, consider stopping and then see how you sleep!). Sure, life’s a bit stressful but how is it that it’s always 2:55am?!

Those who use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) would tell you “that’s easy – look at the Chinese Medicine ‘Meridian Clock’”. It’s one of my favourite tools to use in kinesiology. The great thing about the Meridian Clock is you don’t have to be a Kinesiologist or a practitioner of TCM to understand or gain insight from it. Here’s a basic explanation to get you started.

 

What’s your time?

First, have a look at the clock above and find the time you’re waking up. Take note of the name that sits directly beneath it. For example, if you’re waking between 1am and 3am then you would read all about the Liver meridian. Don’t worry – it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your liver, it’s just the way they’re named in English.

 

14 major meridians – our 'electrical system'

There are 14 major meridians or flows of an energy substance (you may have heard of Qi/Ch’i which sustains life) with 12 of them sitting within the 24 hour clock. All are constantly flowing with energy from your environment and penetrating your body through your skin, central nervous system and organs. These portals on the skin are what acupuncture and acupressure use. Each meridian has a two hour period where they are the primary meridian. Each meridian is linked to particular parts of the body, mechanisms of the body, other meridians, thoughts and emotions, colour, sound, seasons and other spiritual aspects. They’re also partnered together as Yin (receiving energy) and Yang (expressing energy) of an element – Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire.

Think of it like electrical circuits – when the energy of a meridian is not flowing well due to a block (like stress), you’ll find that you’ll experience a sign or symptom from the meridian(s) involved. This block will also cause an imbalance in the flows between meridians. Therefore, when waking up in the night at the same time, or becoming exhausted with 3:30-itis in the afternoon, you can look at the meridian clock at work out what may be happening. Here’s a list of the basic emotions of each element.

Earth – Empathy, sympathy, balanced giving and receiving

Metal – Grief and loss

Water – Fear and anxiety

Wood – Anger, frustration and resentment

Fire – Love, hate and joy

 

What now?

Self reflection! It can be quite simple if you stop and listen. Your body is trying to tell you something by waking you up at the same time. Back to our previous example, if your time is the Liver meridian and the Wood element – ask yourself “What am I angry or frustrated at?” Or think of the Liver organ and apply this to your life “What is toxic in my life that I need to get rid of?” Perhaps you have symptoms that your digestive system is not working so well?

I’ll leave you with this as food for thought. Spend some time to reflect on your life and what’s keeping you awake based on the ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Part Three will look at tools and techniques that you can do at home to help you sleep!

If you’d like to read more about Traditional Chinese Medicine start with ‘The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine’ by Ted Kaptchuk.