Best Time to Sleep According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In a Nutshell: The best time to sleep according to Traditional Chinese Medicine is before 11:00 p.m. This timing aligns with the body’s Yin and Yang balance and aids key functions like energy distribution and detoxification between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.


  • The 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. window is the best time for sleep to maintain health and achieve optimal well-being.
  • The Gallbladder Meridian, active from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., is essential for the smooth distribution of energy in the body.
  • The Liver Meridian’s active phase from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. is crucial for detoxification and rejuvenation.
  • Recovering from a single night of missed sleep could take over a hundred days, as per TCM.

What’s the Best Time to Sleep According to TCM

In a world where late nights are often celebrated, Dr. Alex Hui, an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), presents a perspective rooted in ancient wisdom. 

With extensive knowledge in acupuncture and herbal medicine, Dr. Hui emphasizes the significant role of sleep in TCM, focusing on its duration and timing. 

He warns against the health risks of missing the best time to go to bed, which according to TCM principles, is before 11:00 p.m.

The Essence of Sleep

According to Dr. Hui, TCM’s cornerstone of health is proper sleep. He suggests that recovering from a single night of missed sleep could take over a hundred days. 

TCM perceives sleep as a time for physical rest, rejuvenation, and energy accumulation.

The Challenge of Modern Sleep Habits

Despite adhering to recommended sleep durations, many of Dr. Hui’s patients report feeling exhausted. 

He attributes this to their habit of sleeping late, underscoring the importance of how long and when one sleeps.

The TCM Body Clock Explained

Dr. Hui introduces the “Chinese Medicine Body Clock,” a concept that maps the flow of Qi, or life energy, through the body at different times. 

This clock, focusing on the physiological functions of organs, is divided into twelve two-hour segments, each representing the peak activity of various internal organs.

Aligning with Nature’s Rhythms

Dr. Hui advises finding the best time to sync with the natural balance of Yin (rest) and Yang (activity), emphasizing the importance of timing in health.

He points out two critical periods: 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., stressing the need to be asleep before 11:00 p.m. for optimal health and sleep quality.

The Ideal Sleep Period

Dr. Hui discusses the Gallbladder Meridian, active from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., likened to a locomotive driving the body’s Qi. This period is essential for the gallbladder to facilitate smooth energy distribution. 

The subsequent active phase of the Liver Meridian, from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., is crucial for detoxification and rejuvenation.

The Critical Four-Hour Sleep Window

Dr. Hui emphasizes the importance of the 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. window, stating it is the best time for sleep to maintain health and achieve optimal well-being.

He clarifies that this doesn’t mean limiting sleep to only four hours, but rather prioritizing these hours, as the total duration of sleep can vary based on individual needs.

Consequences of Late Nights

Skipping this prime sleep window can lead to immediate problems like headaches and fatigue, impacting concentration and productivity. 

Over time, it can compromise the immune system and lead to chronic health issues, emotional disturbances, weight gain, and skin problems. 

Dr. Hui cautions that while youth may provide some buffer, the adverse effects of poor sleep accumulate with time.

Embracing Ancient Wisdom for Modern Well-being

In conclusion, Dr. Alex Hui’s insights from Traditional Chinese Medicine offer a valuable perspective on sleep that challenges contemporary lifestyles.

By advocating for a sleep schedule aligned with TCM principles, specifically retiring before 11:00 p.m., he emphasizes the deep interconnectedness of our sleep patterns with overall health and vitality. This approach underscores the importance of not just the quantity but the quality and timing of sleep, rooted in the ancient understanding of the body’s natural rhythms and energy flow.

Embracing this timeless wisdom could be the key to addressing many modern health challenges, reminding us that, sometimes, ancient practices hold the answers to contemporary issues. Dr. Hui’s advice encourages us to reconsider our sleep habits, prioritizing them as essential to holistic well-being.

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