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The 3AM Agenda

When watching the debates, I noted Senator Kamala Harris’ use of the term, the “3AM Agenda.” What she is referring to, if you didn’t watch or are not familiar with this term, are the life issues that wake us up in the middle of the night (often 3AM) with racing minds and hearts.

As per the chinese medicine body clock, 3 am correlates with the liver. It is very common in my practice for patients to say, “I wake up all the time at 3 am, and I cannot fall back to sleep. I’m exhausted!” Folks, we are living in exhausting times. It feels like there is no break from the constant pressure from what ails our world. We are bombarded 24/7 with traumatic news stories, such as those from this past week. It can feel hopeless and toxic. And with the main role of the liver being “detoxification,” no wonder we are experiencing sleep disruption and arousal at that time.

What can we do about it? How can we stop this never- ending cycle and both feel better and sleep better? The good news is: there is a lot we can do about it despite the overwhelming feeling that it is “out of our hands.” And one of the best antidotes for this exhaustion is consistent acupuncture treatment.

Besides waking at 3AM the other symptoms that let us know our liver needs some TLC are itchy, burning eyes, tendon problems, feelings of irritability, headaches, menstrual problems, and an inability to “go with the flow.” If you came to me for a session with any combination of the above symptoms, you would most certainly get select liver points needled (in addition to others on related meridians) to reestablish the flow of qi by dispersing stagnant energy or bringing energy where it is deficient. By doing this we would be lowering cortisol levels, increasing nighttime melatonin levels, and enriching the blood with oxygen. I’d likely encourage you to turn off the toxic news, decrease screen time, eat nutritious foods, watch alcohol and caffeine, move the body, spend time in nature and with the people you love. All of which make for lowered anxiety, decreased depression, and a deep, solid night’s sleep with no more 3AM perseverating. The 3AM agenda is so much better to cope with when the sun is up, we are rested, our Qi is strong, and ready to take on any challenges we are confronted with.

Written by: Maureen McLaughlin, Licensed Acupuncturist at Serenity Holistic Health. To book an appointment for acupuncture, visit:

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