Tinnitus and sleep are connected. Good sleep may help manage your symptoms. And a lack of sleep—possibly caused by tinnitus—could it worse.
Tinnitus and Sleep
What Is Tinnitus?
Do you hear a constant whooshing sound? A ringing with a source you can’t pinpoint? You might be one of hundreds of millions of people suffering from tinnitus.
A 2022 meta-analysis on tinnitus estimates that as much as 740 million people around the world may have tinnitus. And around 120 million of that may be suffering from a more severe form of it.
Tinnitus is when you hear a sound in one or both your ears that only you can perceive. You may describe the sound as a:
Unfortunately, no one knows what causes tinnitus. But it could have profound effects on tinnitus sufferers—sleep loss included.
Tips for Sleeping with Tinnitus
1. Adopt Proper Sleeping Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a set of habits that help you get better sleep.
In a study involving 258 tinnitus patients, 27% said that a lack of sleep made tinnitus worse.
Sleep hygiene includes dietary habits like adjusting your meal times and avoiding certain drinks. Following sleep hygiene might also encourage you to practice daily habits like squeezing in a work out during the day and getting your daily dose of sunshine.
Good bedtime habits also include:
- following a strict bedtime and wakeup schedule (even on your days off)
- sleeping in a dark room
- keeping your bedroom quiet
- lowering the temperature in your bedroom
- keeping gadgets and other possible sources of bright lights out of the room
Following proper sleep hygiene may help improve the quality of your sleep, which could help you get your tinnitus under control. Studies also show that a lack of sleep may possibly worsen your tinnitus.
2. Don’t Force Yourself to Sleep
Can’t fall asleep even after keeping your eyes closed?
If sleep is far beyond your reach, get out of bed and do something else. Sit somewhere else dark, cool, and quiet. However, avoid doing anything too stimulating like watching TV or checking your emails.
Pick up a light novel and allow yourself to read a few pages. One trial found that reading for 15-30 minutes may help you de-stress, lessen insomnia, and improve the quality of your sleep.
Come back to be after a chapter or when you feel drowsiness creeping on you. Mind still running? Hop back out of bed and continue on to the next chapter. Repeat the process until you finally drift off to dreamland.
RELATED: 9 Surefire Ways To Fall Asleep Fast
3. Engage in Mindulness and Relaxation Techniques
Mindfulness-based intervention may help relieve tinnitus distress.
When you practice mindfulness, you, for a long time, focus on being present in the moment.
It’s a form of meditation and is used to treat conditions associated with tinnitus, like:
- chronic pain
Tinnitus sufferers are under a lot of stress trying to tune out the ringing in their ears, and this could lead them to feel stress and a loss of control.
Mindfulness works by helping you change how you see your situation, allowing you to become more accepting and open to your situation, then turning your emotions into something far less emotionally crippling.
With a positive mindset, you’re in a better place to live with your condition.
One 2019 study found that mindfulness therapy significantly lowered the distress scores of 425 subjects.
Another 2018 study found that mindfulness techniques helped lessen tinnitus severity while relieving distress, anxiety, and depression among the subjects.
4. Tune In to a Different Sound
Loud noises may trigger tinnitus. Unfortunately, so does the quiet.
Sleep hygiene recommends that you sleep in a quiet room, but this just isn’t realistic for some tinnitus sufferers. Playing the thrumming sound of white, pink, or brown noise can both help you get some good sleep and drown out the bad noise.
White, pink, or brown noise may help cover up tinnitus noise.
White noise—or even the trickling of a flowing river—can help drown out the buzzing from your tinnitus and replace it with something more soothing.
Audio machines are also popular with sleepers that have trouble sleeping with environmental noise.
Pink noise has also shown to induce more sleep time and improve the quality of sleep.
5. Lower Your Stress Levels
There’s a vicious cycle between stress and tinnitus.
Many tinnitus patients feel stress because of the constant buzzing in their ears. And that stress can actually worsen tinnitus.
Pick up a hobby—or a book—whichever puts your mind at ease. Exercise is also well-known for its anti-stress benefits. A 30-minute aerobic session or a yoga class can do wonders for your stress levels with the positive effect lasting several hours after your workout.
Consider bringing a friend to tag along.
Surrounding yourself with a stable support system can help improve your mental well-being and put you in a better position to control your tinnitus. Many patients might choose to steer clear of social situations in fear of loud noises, but your closest peers may be just the medicine you need.
6. Evalute Your Diet
Though the research is limited, some studies show that your diet can make your tinnitus worse.
For example, one study found that consuming more vitamin B12 is connected to lower odds of tinnitus. On the other hand, consuming more protein, fat, iron, and calcium is associated with higher odds.
Keep a log of everything you eat every day. Observe how some foods might affect you:
- Is my tinnitus more persistent after I ate a specific food?
- Did it become more severe after I ate a certain type of food?
If you find that some foods or drinks make your condition worse, then you can cut it out off your diet and you’ll have taken a giant leap towards the right direction.
Tinnitus and Good Sleep
This will not only help you get better sleep at night, it may also provide you some relief during the day.
Scientists are still looking for causes and long-term, effective treatments for tinnitus. Fortunately, there are many tricks and tunes that have proved useful for many tinnitus patients.
Practicing good sleeping habits, controlling your stress levels, and even tuning in to some brown noise may help you get good rest—one of the best ways to get tinnitus relief.