If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. dealing with a medical condition known as tinnitus then you most likely know that it tends to get worse when you are trying to go to sleep. But why should this be? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical condition like hearing loss, it’s not an external sound. But none of that information can give an explanation as to why this ringing becomes louder at night.
The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases as you attempt to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this extremely common medical issue.
What is tinnitus?
To say tinnitus is not a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. It’s a sound no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.
Tinnitus is an indication that something is wrong, not a disorder by itself. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this condition. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is often gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing begins. This phantom noise is a warning flag to signal you of a change in how you hear.
What causes tinnitus?
Presently medical scientists and doctors are still not sure of exactly what causes tinnitus. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical conditions. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Sometimes, when these little hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t efficiently send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.
The current theory regarding tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. Your brain will start to compensate for information that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It gets confused by the lack of feedback from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.
When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify a few things. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different conditions that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets worse at night for some people.
Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?
You might not even notice it, but your ear receives some sounds during the day. It will faintly pick up sounds coming from another room or around the corner. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.
All of a sudden, the brain becomes confused as it listens for sound to process. When confronted with total silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been shown to cause hallucinations as the brain tries to insert information, including auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.
In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems worse. If you’re having a hard 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 suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. The loudness of the ringing is lowered just by the sound of the fan motor.
But, there are also devices designed to help people who have tinnitus get to sleep. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. The soft sound soothes the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can trigger an upsurge in your tinnitus. For example, if you’re drinking too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If adding sound into your nighttime regimen 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.