Hearing Health Blog

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

Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for most of the millions of individuals in the US that suffer with it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical condition like hearing loss, it isn’t an outside sound. But none of that information can give an explanation as to why this ringing gets louder at night.

The truth is more common sense than you might think. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common disorder.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus is not a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. It’s a sound no one else is able to hear. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a maelstrom to you.

Tinnitus is an indication that something is not right, not a disorder by itself. Substantial hearing loss is usually the root of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. People with hearing loss frequently don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it develops so slowly. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re alerting you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Presently medical scientists and doctors are still unsure of exactly what causes tinnitus. It may be a symptom of numerous medical problems including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Tinnitus often means there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from delivering electrical signals to the brain. Your brain converts these electrical signals into identifiable sounds.

The absence of sound is the basis of the current hypothesis. 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 tries to compensate for sound that it’s not getting.

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 worse at night for some people.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

Unless you are significantly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you recognize it or not. It will faintly pick up sounds coming from another room or around the corner. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.

Abruptly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain goes up in response. When faced with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, such as phantom sounds, are frequently the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to create input where none exists.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems louder. Producing sound might be the remedy for people who can’t sleep due to that annoying ringing in the ear.

How to produce noise at night

A fan running is often enough to decrease tinnitus symptoms for many people. Just the sound of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.

But, there are also devices designed to help individuals who have tinnitus get to sleep. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. If you were to leave a TV on, it may be disruptive, but white noise machines produce calming sounds that you can sleep through. Instead, you could go with an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can result in a flare-up, also, like high blood pressure. Contact us for an appointment if these tips aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are active.

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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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