Tinnitus often gets worse at night for most of the millions of people in the US that suffer with it. But why should this be? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears is not a real noise but a complication of a medical problem like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. Of course, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often at night.
The real reason is pretty simple. To know why your tinnitus increases as you attempt to sleep, you need to know the hows and whys of this very common medical problem.
Tinnitus, what is it?
To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but no one else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a tornado to you.
Tinnitus is a sign that something is not right, not a condition on its own. It is generally linked to substantial hearing loss. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is typically gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing begins. This phantom noise is a warning flag to warn you of a change in how you hear.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it happens. It may be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical conditions. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Tinnitus often means there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from sending electrical signals to the brain. Your brain translates these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.
The absence of sound is the base of the current theory. The brain remains on the alert to receive these messages, so when they don’t come, it fills that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It gets confused by the lack of feedback from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.
That would explain a few things when it comes to tinnitus. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. That may also be why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
You might not even realize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It will faintly hear sounds coming from a different room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet at 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. When faced with total silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been shown to induce hallucinations as the brain attempts to insert information, like auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.
In other words, your tinnitus may get worse at night because it’s so quiet. Producing sound might be the remedy for people who can’t sleep because of that aggravating ringing in the ear.
How to generate noise at night
For some individuals dealing with tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. The volume of the ringing is decreased just by the sound of the fan motor.
But, there are also devices designed to help individuals with tinnitus get to sleep. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. If you were to keep a TV on, it may be disruptive, but white noise machines generate soothing sounds that you can sleep through. As an alternative, you could try an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can cause an increase in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to get worse if you’re under stress and certain medical problems can trigger a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. If adding sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn about treatment options by scheduling an appointment with us right away.