If you are one of the millions of individuals in the U.S. suffering from a medical condition known as tinnitus then you most likely know that it tends to get worse when you are attempting to fall asleep. But why should this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears isn’t an actual noise but a complication 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 real reason is pretty simple. To know why your tinnitus increases as you try to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this very common medical problem.
Tinnitus, what is it?
To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is the case. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. It sounds like air-raid sirens are going off in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.
Tinnitus alone isn’t a disease or condition, but an indication that something else is happening. Substantial hearing loss is generally the root of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is setting in. Hearing loss is often gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing starts. 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 greatest conundrums and doctors don’t have a clear comprehension of why it happens. It may be a symptom of numerous medical issues including damage to the inner ear. There are very small hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Often, when these little hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send signals to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. These electrical messages are how the brain converts sound into something it can clearly interpret like a car horn or someone speaking.
The current theory pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. 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 attempts to compensate for input that it’s not receiving.
When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify some things. For one, 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 louder at night for some individuals.
Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?
You might not even recognize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It hears very faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.
Abruptly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one thing to do when faced with complete silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are frequently the outcome 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 so quiet. Creating sound might be the remedy 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 decrease tinnitus symptoms for many people. The volume of the ringing is lowered just by the sound of the fan motor.
But, there are also devices designed to help those who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines replicate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to leave a TV on, it may be disruptive, but white noise machines create soothing sounds that you can sleep through. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play calming sounds.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?
Your tinnitus symptoms can be worsened by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like 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 present, it’s time to learn about treatment options by scheduling an appointment with us today.