What The Time You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night Says About Your Emotional State

Your body is trying to tell you something if you wake up randomly at night.

Last updated on Apr 07, 2023

woman waking up in the middle of the night klebercordeiro / Getty Images

According to The National Sleep Foundation, Americans are in a state of restlessness.

A poll taken in 2011 surveying Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 revealed that 43% of people rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights. The poll also found that about 60% of people experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night.

So why is it that we can't seem to fall asleep, or why do we wake up during the night and continue to stay awake? What does it mean if you wake up in the middle of the night?


RELATED: Why So Many People Wake Up For An Hour In The Middle Of The Night... On Purpose

Traditional Chinese medicine says the answer to that depends on specific times a person continually wakes up during the night. Based on this idea, the different organs of your body stimulate specific emotions and spiritual states.


Sleep is highly valued and is a crucial aspect of our physiological well-being in Chinese medicine. One theory utilized by physicians to explain our sleep cycle is shen, which describes thought, state of consciousness, and mental functions.

Our bodies were designed to follow a natural rhythm, and shen follows closely with that. It's meant to remain dormant at night as we rest, and then become alert and excited during our daytime functions.

When restlessness occurs during the time we're supposed to be sleeping, our shen is overstimulated, thus causing sleeping problems.

If you're regularly waking up around the same time each night, don't ignore your body's signals. Depending on when you're roused from sleep, the organs in your body are trying to communicate with you.


Here's what it means when you wake up during the night at different times:

Trouble falling asleep between 9 PM and 10 PM

You're stressed.

Stress seems like it's practically a household term at this point. We're constantly thinking about ten things at once and are expected to execute them perfectly. Yikes.

When you lay your head down to rest, thoughts may be cluttering your mind which prevents you from getting a full night's rest. Work troubles, getting the kids up for school in the morning, making time to maintain your health and exercise, the list goes on and on.

It's recommended to combat this by practicing nightly meditation. This isn't just for the gurus — you can definitely do it too. Meditation allows your body to enter into a state of peace and serenity, helping you to wind down from a stressful day.


You can start by listening to a half-hour of calming music before bed. This helps to slow down your brain activity in preparation for a long night of rest. Additionally, take slow, deep breaths to slow down your heart rate.

Waking up between 11 PM and 1 AM

You're experiencing emotional disappointment.

Traditional Chinese medicine attributes this time period to the gallbladder, which is part of what controls our emotions. The gallbladder is in charge of our passion for life, action, and assertiveness.

When the gallbladder is balanced, we feel happy and content. But if you're experiencing a lack of passion, problems with decision-making, or timidness, your gallbladder is out of sync.


RELATED: If You Only Need 5 Hours Of Sleep, It Might Be In Your Genes

Waking Up Between 1 AM and 3 AM

You're angry.

Did your boyfriend forget to put away his dishes for the hundredth time? Did that annoying chick from work gloat about a job promotion in front of you? Did someone cut you off while driving to work this morning? Yeah, you're angry.

Anger is associated with the liver. When we have feelings of resentment that go unexpressed, they build up over time in the liver. So when you try to sleep through the night, your body reminds you of this nagging sensation night after night.

In order to overcome this, it's important to recognize your need to express emotion.


When we let our feelings out, we have the ability to strengthen relationships as well as release negative energies from residing within our spirit. Holding it in leads to a constant heavy burden that will resurface at night during resting periods.

Waking Up Between 3 AM and 5 AM

A higher power is trying to tell you something.

This is the time when the lungs are most active. In traditional Chinese medicine, the lungs are responsible for moving energy through the entire body, as well as providing immune protection. They're also known to signal states of depression and grief.

If you're going through a difficult time in your life and can't seem to overcome the grip it has on you, you may do well to explore the possibility of a higher power speaking to you.


When you wake up during this time, take a moment to relax, breathe, and pray through the saddened moment.

Waking Between 5 AM and 7 AM

You have emotional blocks.

When you wake up during the night at this time, your intestine is overactive. As a member of an imperfect world, you're going to get hurt sometimes. Troublesome experiences can lead to drawing inward and relying on yourself, rather than risking it all to get hurt again.


If you have trouble opening up to other people or can't let things go, you may have an imbalance in the large intestine.

The basic purpose of the intestine is to receive waste and dispose of what we don't need in our bodies. The physical function of this organ is closely tied to that of the spiritual aspect. The emotional purpose of the intestine is to "let go of those things that don’t serve us."

So, if you find that you wake up during the night, Chinese medicine can help you finally get a good night's rest.

RELATED: The Spiritual Meaning Of Waking Up At 3AM

Hannah Dodd is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to YourTango. Her work focuses on relationships, astrology, and pop culture topics.