Hard Time Falling Asleep with Tinnitus? 5 Things You Can Do

Better ways to sleep with tinnitus

Are you trying to fall asleep and all you can hear is ringing in your ears? You’re staying up late at night and can’t sleep. Is tinnitus to blame? You deserve deep restful sleep without tinnitus getting in the way. I’ll explain five ways on how you can sleep better with tinnitus. Keep reading to learn how to sleep more easily and at the end of this article, I will talk about a creative solution to hear calming noise through your pillow without disturbing your sleeping partner in the bed next to you.

Tinnitus has a significant impact on sleep. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears usually sounds like a high-pitched noise. Patients describe it as buzzing, whooshing, or roaring. No matter what it sounds like, it can make peace and quiet seem impossible. There are two things we know really well about tinnitus. First, being stressed, worried, or having concern about your tinnitus can make it louder. Secondly, tinnitus always sounds louder in a quiet environment.

Difficulty sleeping and insomnia

Around 10% of people with tinnitus report having difficulty sleeping and they often state that falling asleep is one of their most significant daily challenges. As a result, sleep deprivation is a common side effect of this condition. To make matters worse, sleep deprivation can intensify the symptoms of tinnitus. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night, and having trouble going back to sleep.

A 2014 study found that two out of three tinnitus patients have an associated sleep disorder. This is very high. These patients reported suffering from high anxiety and stress levels due to not sleeping well and also because of the ringing in their ears. But here’s the good news. When these same patients completed tinnitus therapy and use of sound in their environment or in their ears, their sleep disorders were significantly improved.

Dr. Thompson share tips on how to sleep with tinnitus

Five different techniques for how to sleep more easily

The first three techniques are healthy sleep habits and the last two are sound therapy methods. If you really care about better sleep, try a few of these techniques.

1. Relaxing time before bed

Try spending at least 20 to 30 minutes in the evening doing something that relaxes you before you try to fall asleep. This can be reading, lighting a candle, taking a bath, playing music or whatever else that helps you to relax.

2. Limit screen time and light exposure

Limit your screen time specifically on a computer, a phone, or a TV. Turn them off. It relaxes your body to enter sleep more easily. It is especially important to avoid content such as action movies, news and other forms of loud exciting media that grabs our attention. Limit the light in your bedroom as well using blackout curtains or covering other light sources when you are trying to fall asleep.

3. Relaxation using deep breathing, meditation, or stretching

This is a combination of deep belly breaths while you are lying on the floor or on your bed, slowly breathing and relaxing your body. Stretching also works very well before sleeping. You can also practice a guided meditation or try some guided sleep audio.

4. Sound therapy to help enter sleep while lying in bed

Sound therapy can help in two ways. First, the sound can mask the ringing in your ears. Secondly, the sound can calm and relax you. You can use things like a white noise machine, a fan, or a recorded sound of the ocean.  These will help to mask or drown out the noise of your tinnitus and enable you to have a relaxing sleep for the whole night.

5. The sound pillow

The Original Sound Pillow is a small speaker inside a pillow and it allows the individual to sleep while listening to some calming sounds of the ocean, nature noise, white noise, and other kinds of relaxing tones to help you fall asleep easier and faster. It’s very easy to use. You just need to plug in your cell phone to an aux cord that is inside a soft pillow.  You can then hear calming noise through your pillow without bothering your sleeping partner in the bed next to you.

I wake up in the middle of the night because of tinnitus

Some of my patients tell me that they find themselves waking up in the middle of the night because of their tinnitus. Has this ever happened to you? When you wake up during the night for any reason it’s quiet and your tinnitus will sound loud.

So my question for you is: Are you waking up because of your tinnitus or are you waking up for another reason, and then you just happen to hear your tinnitus and latch onto that as the reason why things went so badly?

Can melatonin help sleep with tinnitus?

A lot of people use melatonin to help them fall asleep at night. This may be helpful for a short time period but I don’t recommend it long term. Always consult your medical doctor before taking any medication to help you sleep.

What you can do – Quick Summary

  1. Follow a few or all five of the healthy sleep habits I have recommended for one month and monitor your progress. Let us know what works best for you. If it works well, keep at it.
  2. Turn on a fan. You probably have a fan at home, so you don’t need to buy anything.  Or you can purchase a bedside noisemaker. This will help you fall asleep faster and keep that deep sleep that we’re all after.
  3. We have the sleep index questionnaire for free on our website Pure Tinnitus. You can fill out this questionnaire to understand how significant your sleep problem is. There are other recommendations we have for you.

To learn what may help you manage your tinnitus, please download our free 10-page e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Tinnitus Relief. Dr. Thompson offers Tinnitus Retraining Therapy via telehealth. Please contact our team at Pure Tinnitus to learn more.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist in California and founder of Pure Tinnitus. Dr. Thompson has a comprehensive knowledge of tinnitus management. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides services to patients with hearing loss and tinnitus.

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