Hearing Services of Nashville

Man in bed at night suffering insomnia from severe tinnitus and ringing in the ear.

Tinnitus often gets worse at night for the majority of the millions of people in the US that experience it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom noise caused by some medical disorder like hearing loss, it’s not an outside sound. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often at night.

The real reason is fairly simple. But first, we have to learn a little more about this all-too-common condition.

Tinnitus, what is it?

For the majority of individuals, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. It’s a sound no one else can hear. Your partner sleeping next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a maelstrom to you.

Tinnitus by itself is not a disease or disorder, but a sign that something else is happening. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this condition. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss tends to be gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing starts. Your hearing is changing if you start to hear these noises, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest conundrums and doctors don’t have a strong understanding of why it occurs. It may be a symptom of numerous medical problems including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells designed to move in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t efficiently send signals to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The present theory regarding tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will begin to compensate for information that it’s not getting because of hearing loss. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

That would clarify a few things about tinnitus. For one, why it’s a symptom of so many different ailments that impact the ear: minor 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?

Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear receives some sounds during the day whether you realize it or not. It will faintly pick up sounds coming from another 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 fall asleep.

Suddenly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain goes up in response. When confronted with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to cause hallucinations as the brain attempts to insert information, like auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems worse. Producing sound might be the remedy for individuals who can’t sleep due to that irritating ringing in the ear.

How to generate noise at night

For some individuals suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. The loudness of the ringing is reduced just by the sound of the fan motor.

But you can also buy devices that are exclusively made to decrease tinnitus sounds. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise calms the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play calming sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be exacerbated by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If introducing sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to learn about treatment solutions by making an appointment with us today.

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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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