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 people in the US that experience it. But why would this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears is not an actual noise but a complication of a medical issue like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing gets louder at night.

The real reason is fairly straightforward. To know why your tinnitus gets louder as you try to sleep, you need to know the hows and whys of this extremely common medical issue.

What is tinnitus?

To say tinnitus isn’t an actual sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is the case. It’s a noise no one else is able to hear. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a tornado to you.

Tinnitus is an indication that something is wrong, not a condition by itself. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this condition. For many, tinnitus is the first indication they get that their hearing is in jeopardy. Individuals who have hearing loss frequently don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it develops so gradually. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these sounds, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Right now medical scientists and doctors are still not sure of exactly what triggers tinnitus. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical issues. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells designed to vibrate in response to sound waves. Often, when these little hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t efficiently send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The present theory 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 in that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It tries to compensate for sound that it’s not receiving.

That would explain a few things regarding tinnitus. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. That could also be why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

Unless you are significantly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you realize it or not. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to fall asleep.

Suddenly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one response when confronted with total silence – generate noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are frequently the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to create input where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus might get louder at night because it’s too quiet. Producing sound may be the solution for people who can’t sleep because of that aggravating ringing in the ear.

Producing noise at night

A fan running is often enough to reduce tinnitus symptoms for many individuals. Just the noise of the motor is enough to decrease the ringing.

But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to reduce tinnitus sounds. White noise machines reproduce environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. The soft sound soothes the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.

What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?

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. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. Call us for an appointment if these tips aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are present.

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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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