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 suffer with it. But why would this be? The ringing is a phantom noise due to some medical condition like hearing loss, it’s not an outside sound. Of course, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.

The truth is more common sense than you probably think. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common condition.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus isn’t an actual sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most people, that is true. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but no one else can. Your partner sleeping next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a tornado to you.

Tinnitus alone is not a disease or disorder, but a sign that something else is wrong. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. Individuals who have hearing loss often don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it progresses so slowly. This phantom noise is a warning flag to warn you of a change in your hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

At this time medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what triggers tinnitus. It might 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 move in response to sound. Sometimes, when these little hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain converts these electrical signals into identifiable sounds.

The present 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 arrive, it fills in that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and tries to compensate for it.

That would explain some 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 louder at night for some people.

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 pick up sounds coming from another room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all stops during the night when you try to fall asleep.

Abruptly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain increases in response. It only knows one response when confronted with complete silence – generate noise even if it’s not real. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to trigger hallucinations as the brain attempts to insert information, including auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus may get louder at night because it’s too quiet. If you are having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise may be the answer.

How to create noise at night

For some individuals dealing with tinnitus, all they need is a fan running in the background. Just the sound of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.

But, there are also devices made to help people who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines create calming sounds that you can sleep through. As an alternative, you could go with an app that plays soothing sounds from your smartphone.

What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re under stress and certain medical issues can result in a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. 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 options by making an appointment with us right away.

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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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