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Exploring the 24 Hour Qi Clock

Updated: Sep 14, 2022


woman holding a clock in front of her stomach

Have you heard of the terms diurnal and nocturnal?


Diurnal means active during the daytime, while nocturnal means active during the nighttime. Together the two make up a 24-hour cycle known as a day. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this 24-hour cycle is viewed as much more than just a day in life. The 24 hours of the day are viewed as increments of time and every two-hour section is associated with a specific energetic meridian that runs through the body. This is known as the Qi clock.


Do you wake up every night or every morning at about the same time? Have you ever wondered why?


Some people call that an internal clock. We are given a much deeper look into how the body functions in Chinese medicine. Chinese medical theory divides the body based on the 12 meridians. Each of the meridians is assigned a two-hour time slot. For example, the liver meridian is associated with the hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. If you wake up during this time frame, then there is an issue with your liver meridian. So knowing this information can be very important to an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner.

visual of the 24hr qi-clock

During a 24-hour period, your energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) moves through the organ systems in two-hour intervals. Qi draws inward to help restore the body between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. The liver cleanses the blood and performs other functions, such as getting the blood ready to travel outward into the rest of the body. Over the next 12 hours, Qi cycles through the organs that assimilate, digest, and eliminate food through the body or our diurnal organs.


By mid-afternoon, the body begins to slow down again in preparation for the nocturnal phase. The nocturnal phase is all about restoring and maintaining. So when one organ system is at its peak, its counterpart, on the opposite side of the clock is at its lowest point. An example is 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which are the hours of the stomach. This is when the stomach is at its peak and also why it is recommended to eat a big breakfast. On the opposite side of the clock lies the pericardium, which is associated with the pituitary, hypothalamus, and reproductive organs.



another visual of the bodies functions during the different periods

Here’s a summary of the 24 hour Qi cycle:

  • 3 am to 5 am: Lung

  • 5 am to 7 am: Large Intestine

  • 7 am to 9 am: Stomach

  • 9 am to 11 am: Spleen

  • 11 am to 1 pm: Heart

  • 1 pm to 3 pm: Small Intestine

  • 3 pm to 5 pm: Bladder

  • 5 pm to 7 pm: Kidney

  • 7 pm to 9 pm: Pericardium

  • 9 pm to 11 pm: Triple Warmer

  • 11 pm to 1 am: Gallbladder

  • 1 am to 3 am: Liver


Yours in health & wellness,





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