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 experience it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom noise due to some medical disorder like hearing loss, it isn’t an outside sound. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing becomes louder during the 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 is not a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. Your partner sleeping next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a tornado to you.

Tinnitus is a sign that something is not right, not a disorder by itself. It is usually associated with significant hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is setting in. Individuals with hearing loss frequently don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it progresses so slowly. This phantom sound is a warning flag to warn you of a change in your hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it happens. It could be a symptom of numerous medical problems including damage to the inner ear. There are very small 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 effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The current hypothesis pertaining to tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. The brain remains on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills in that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It tries 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. That may also be the reason why the symptoms get louder at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

You may not even detect it, but your ear receives 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 at night when you try to fall asleep.

Suddenly, all the sound vanishes and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one response when confronted with total silence – generate noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are frequently the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus might get worse at night because it’s so quiet. Creating sound might be the solution for those who can’t sleep because of that irritating ringing in the ear.

How to create noise at night

A fan running is frequently enough to reduce tinnitus symptoms for many people. Just the noise of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.

But you can also buy devices that are specifically made to reduce tinnitus sounds. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines create soothing 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 worsened by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to get worse if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can result in a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. If adding sound into your nighttime routine doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to find out 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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