Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

Man in bed at night suffering insomnia from severe tinnitus and ringing in the ear.

If you are one of the millions of individuals in the U.S. suffering from a medical condition called tinnitus then you probably know that it often gets worse when you are attempting to fall asleep. But why would this be? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical condition like hearing loss, it isn’t an external sound. Naturally, knowing what it is will not explain why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often during the night.

The real reason is pretty straightforward. But first, we have to discover a little more about this all-too-common disorder.

What is tinnitus?

For most people, tinnitus isn’t a real sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. It’s a sound no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right beside you can’t hear it at all.

Tinnitus is an indication that something is not right, not a disorder on its own. It is typically linked to significant hearing loss. Tinnitus is often the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is typically gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing begins. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong understanding of why it occurs. It might be a symptom of numerous medical problems including inner ear damage. The inner ear contains lots of tiny hair cells designed to vibrate in response to sound waves. Tinnitus can indicate there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from sending electrical messages to the brain. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The present theory pertaining to tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. The brain remains on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It gets confused by the lack of input from the ear and tries to compensate for it.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain some things. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some people.

Why does tinnitus get louder at night?

Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear receives some sounds during the day whether you realize it or not. It will faintly hear sounds coming from a different room or around the corner. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.

All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it searches for sound to process. When confronted with total silence, it resorts to producing its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are frequently the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus might get worse at night because it’s too quiet. If you’re having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise may be the solution.

How to generate noise at night

For some people suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the sound of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.

But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to decrease tinnitus sounds. White noise machines reproduce environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines produce calming sounds that you can sleep through. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be worsened by other things besides lack of sound. For example, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If adding sound into your nighttime routine doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to learn about treatment options by scheduling an appointment with us today.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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