If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. dealing with a medical condition known as tinnitus then you probably know that it tends to get worse when you are trying to fall asleep. But why would this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears is not an actual noise but a side-effect of a medical issue like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. Naturally, knowing what it is will not clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often during the night.
The truth is more common sense than you probably think. To know why your tinnitus gets louder as you try to sleep, you need to know the hows and whys of this really common medical problem.
What is tinnitus?
To say tinnitus isn’t an actual sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most people, that is true. The person dealing with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a maelstrom to you.
Tinnitus is an indication that something is not right, not a condition by itself. Substantial hearing loss is usually the root of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. Individuals who have hearing loss often don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it progresses so gradually. This phantom sound is a warning flag to signal you of a change in your hearing.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest mysteries and doctors don’t have a clear comprehension of why it happens. It could be a symptom of a number of medical problems including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells designed to move in response to sound waves. Tinnitus can indicate there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from delivering electrical messages to the brain. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.
The present hypothesis pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. The brain stays on the alert to receive these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It gets confused by the lack of input from the ear and tries to compensate for it.
That would explain a few things about tinnitus. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. That could also be the reason why the symptoms get louder at night sometimes.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you know it or not. It hears very faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all stops at night when you try to go to sleep.
All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it searches for sound to process. When confronted with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where none exists.
In other words, your tinnitus might get worse at night because it’s so quiet. If you are having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise may be the solution.
How to create 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 those with tinnitus get to sleep. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. If you were to leave a TV on, it may be distracting, but white noise machines generate calming sounds that you can sleep through. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play calming sounds.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can bring about an upsurge in your tinnitus. For instance, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could be a contributing factor. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If introducing 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 making an appointment with us today.