Why Are Tinnitus Sufferers Prone to Sleep Deprivation and What Can They Do About It?

What is worse than dealing with ringing in your ears? Having ringing in your ears AND not being able to get a good night’s sleep. This is the unfortunate reality for many tinnitus sufferers. Below, a few professionals explain why sleep deprivation is common among tinnitus sufferers and what they can do about it.

Dr. Sarah Lundstrom

Dr. Sarah Lundstrom

An audiologist and Doctor at .

Quiet Makes Tinnitus More Noticeable; Give Your Brain Something Else to Focus on

People with tinnitus commonly report an impact on their ability to fall asleep or go back to sleep during the night. This is because the environment is usually quiet, and your body tries to wind down at the end of the day. During the day, when your brain is more active, it is easier to tune out the tinnitus. At night, it can be difficult to ignore.

Giving your brain something else to focus on can help. You can try to distract yourself with white noise, nature sounds, or instrumental music. There are a lot of good apps out there for different sounds or try a fan or radio. Play the sound at a just audible level, and consider setting a timer for 15-30 minutes. Avoid anything with words, singing, or talking, as this typically is too distracting. Try different options until you find one that masks your sound or is most comfortable for you to listen to.

Find ways to stimulate your brain during the day as well. If your tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss, consider wearing hearing devices designed to manage your tinnitus. Find ways to relax before bed. Meditation and breathing exercises can reduce the intensity of your tinnitus.

You can also consider anxiety or sleep medication if you are struggling to relax, but see a physician before beginning any medication. Other factors impacting your tinnitus are hydration, illness, diet, and exercise. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Pay attention to your sodium intake and consider vitamins to ensure you get enough nutrients like potassium.

Katie Koebel

Katie Koebel

M.Cl.Sc., Senior Manager of Audiology at .

Tinnitus is More Evident at Night; Sound Therapy and a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Those with tinnitus are more prone to sleep deprivation for a variety of reasons. During the hustle and bustle of the day, tinnitus sufferers may not notice their tinnitus as much since there are many sounds and tasks to keep their minds occupied.

However, when it comes time for bed, the sounds and tasks [of the day] subside while the tinnitus does not, making it more noticeable. Further, fatigue and anxiety are known contributors to tinnitus, and it becomes a vicious cycle – the more tired you are and anxious about your tinnitus, the more noticeable it becomes, and the more noticeable it becomes, the more tired and anxious you are.

The good news is that there are strategies tinnitus sufferers can use to help them get a good night’s rest. The most effective and easiest way is to use sound therapy. The first step is to have a full hearing assessment with a hearing healthcare professional. They can provide options such as ear-level masking devices or hearing aids with tinnitus programs (if a hearing loss is diagnosed). Proper sound stimulation during the day will help reduce your tinnitus overall.

At night time, play any sound that you find relaxing to extend the benefits, whether it’s white or fan noise, ambient music, or nature sounds. Playing relaxing sounds while you drift off to sleep helps reduce anxiety and gives your brain sounds to focus on to mask your tinnitus. Reducing stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, which are known to increase tinnitus, can also help.

Finally, creating a relaxing bedtime routine (without screen time, which can make it harder to fall asleep) can help. Incorporate whatever helps you relax: taking a hot bath, reading, meditation, breathing exercises, or just spending quality time with a loved one or pet.

Jason Tebeau

Jason Tebeau

President & CEO at .

Tinnitus is More Active at Night; Use Red Lights

Tinnitus gets more active at night, leading people to face sleeping difficulties. Changing the night light in your room is an effective way to cope with the sleep deprivation associated with tinnitus.

Usually, when people wake up in the middle of the night because of phantom percepts caused by tinnitus, they find it difficult to fall back asleep. If you have blue or white lights installed in your room, you will find it challenging to get back to sleep because of the lights. Try replacing these lights with red lights, [which are] scientifically proven to facilitate sleep in individuals. This would be a good choice to temporarily curb sleep problems associated with tinnitus!

Martina Genao

Martina Genao

Director Of Operations at .

The Ringing is Loud and Never Stops; Play Background Noise

Tinnitus is the medical term for the ringing in the ears. People with this condition have varying degrees. For some people, the sound never stops and is so loud and intense that it keeps them awake and distracted. It becomes a vicious cycle, as lack of sleep further aggravates the problem of tinnitus.

Experts suggest sound mask therapy as the most effective therapy to help tinnitus patients fall asleep. The idea here is to play background noise (white noise) that will take your attention from the ringing sound in the ear. As you focus on the white noise, the perceived volume of tinnitus ringing diminishes, helping you to fall asleep.

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