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

Tinnitus often gets worse at night for the majority of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But why should this be? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical condition like hearing loss, it isn’t an outside sound. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t explain why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.

The reality is more common sense than you probably think. But first, we need to learn a little more about this all-too-common condition.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. It’s a noise no one else can hear. Your partner sleeping 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 on its own. It is usually associated with substantial hearing loss. For a lot of people, tinnitus is the first indication they get that their hearing is in jeopardy. Individuals who have hearing loss frequently don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it develops so gradually. This phantom noise is a warning flag to notify you of a change in how you hear.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it happens. It might be a symptom of numerous medical issues including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells made to move in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these little hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. These electrical messages are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly comprehend like a car horn or a person talking.

The absence of sound is the basis of the current theory. Your brain will begin to fill in for signals that it’s not getting because of hearing loss. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain some things. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. That may also be why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

You may not even detect it, but your ear receives some sounds during the day. It will faintly hear sounds coming from another room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to go to sleep.

Suddenly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain increases in response. It only knows one response when faced with total silence – generate noise even if it’s not real. Sensory deprivation has been shown to trigger hallucinations as the brain tries to insert information, such as auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.

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

How to create noise at night

For some people dealing with tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the noise of the motor is enough to decrease the ringing.

But, there are also devices made to help those who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it may be distracting, but white noise machines produce calming sounds that you can sleep through. As an alternative, you could go with an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can bring about an increase in your tinnitus. For instance, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re under stress and certain medical issues can lead to a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. Give us a call 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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