Wired & Tired
WIRED AND TIRED
by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.
The combination of feeling both wired and tired is one that we see daily in our clinic and seems to be a current cultural trend. Many of us, especially women, tend to have trouble unwinding or being restful, even at night. The combination of symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia are way too common.
Our culture considers success to be a measure of how much we can get done in a day or how much money can be made. This fast pace combined with the ups and downs of life’s stress has many people feeling wired and tired.
In Chinese medicine the inability to rest, to be still or to sleep well at night is a reflection of lack of YIN energy. YIN represents literally the shady side of the mountain, the Talent/Ashland side versus the sunny Medford side of the valley. Our YIN represents our quiet, still, moistening, substantial, anchoring, slower side of ourselves, versus the opposite of these qualities, which is the YANG.
Summer is a classic time of the year to feel out of balance with your YIN. The nature of Summer is very YANG, fast, busy, outward, exciting, hot, etc. Its YIN counterpart would be winter. However, regardless of the season we must find a balance of these qualities within us or we start to display symptoms.
The wired, tired, anxious combination indicates a lack of YIN in the body, and that the axis between YIN and Yang has swung toward more YANG tendencies. It becomes harder and harder to settle down, to feel anchored….yet there is an underlying deep fatigue. Its a strange combination, often self medicated with caffeine to get going in the morning and alcohol to settle down in the evening. The anxiety fuels getting the errands done, the phone calls returned and even though you feel out of balance, the mind says at least we are getting “stuff” done.
Stillness is out of the question for many people, at least until bedtime. Then it comes time to sleep, and we expect the mind to suddenly turn off, stop its chatter and instantly change patterns from the day to being restful. This is where insomnia indicates a lack of YIN. The mind cannot get anchored to allow the body to rest. The body is tired and the mind is wired. This is also true of the anxiety symptom, the YIN anchors the emotions and allows you to feel settled and at ease, a lack of YIN leaves the emotions fluttering in the chest.
To increase your YIN, one needs to slow down and sleep well at night. This often translates into lifestyle changes; scheduling less in each day, slowing down to eat and hydrate during the day, pausing between activities, less caffeine, deeper breathing. It is also helpful to spend more time around things that are calming, such as animals, nature, soft music, and activites such as meditation, yoga, qigong and journaling.
Many of us have trouble slowing down. It seems to go against everything we have learned from our parents and society. For some, slowing down makes them more aware of how unsettled their minds are and how much anxiety is under the fast pace. These type of people likely will need the help of their local acupuncturist/ herbalist and/or therapist to help them work with whats fueling the pattern of being wired and tired.
Consider what your tendency is, how balanced are you in your activity(YANG) and your stillness(YIN)?