Millions of people go to bed each night with a constant buzzing or ringing in their ears. So what’s the best way to get to sleep when you have tinnitus? Hearing noises that other people around you don’t hear can be frustrating and might lead you to question your sanity.
Still, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going crazy. Instead, you might be suffering from tinnitus. Also known as ear buzzing, or ear ringing, tinnitus is an increasingly common condition that affects more than 45 million adults in the United States alone.
Tinnitus affects people by varying degrees. For some the constant buzzing can be almost unbearable burden; for others the symptoms are not as severe and the ringing or buzzing noises can vary from person to person in terms of pitch, tone, volume and even the type of sounds.
Some people only hear sporadic buzzing, whistling, hissing, chirping or other noises. For others, the noises are coming from inside of the body and directly follow a person’s heartbeat, which is called pulsatile tinnitus.
What exactly is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease itself, rather a symptom of another health problem. Although it can be caused by many different issues, the most common cause is when there’s a problem with the ear itself.
Problems in the ear canal, a damaged eardrum or inner ear bones, alters the way that the electrical signals are sent to the brain, which in turn affects the way our brain processes sound. Other problems, whether it’s a sinus infection, jaw injury, sleep apnea or reduced blood flow in the neck, can become a trigger for tinnitus.
Hearing loud sounds can trigger tinnitus almost instantaneously. A loud concert causes buzzing in your ears the following day, which is a perfect example how ear damage alters our sound processing systems.
Luckily, the condition is nothing more than a minor annoyance for the vast majority of tinnitus sufferers. However, the truth is that tinnitus can affect your life in many unseen ways, so you want to ensure it has a minimal impact on your overall life, health, and well-being.
How tinnitus impacts your life
The fact that tinnitus comes in many different guises means that it affects each person differently. Nonetheless, the condition most definitely has an effect on your emotions even if you’re not aware of it.
Like many sufferers, you may often feel frustrated, distracted or worried without really knowing why. Many people also find it especially hard to concentrate and experience various mental difficulties when they’re around loud noises, as this often intensifies their tinnitus.
Constantly being followed around by any noise makes it difficult for anyone to concentrate, no matter how soft the noise may be. This is why tinnitus can negatively affect any task that requires concentration—whether it be studying, writing, critical thinking or problem solving—and this can lead to delays in your school or work tasks.
How tinnitus affects your sleep
One of the biggest problems associated with tinnitus is insomnia and a lack of sleep and it’s a two-way relationship.
For example, an existing tinnitus condition might be the cause of your insomnia, sleep deprivation and your reliance on sleeping pills. But at the same time, an existing sleep disorder may end up exacerbating your tinnitus.
Many people report that the condition becomes more noticeable where there is minimal background noise, – you’re more aware of the ringing in your ears when you’re lying in a quiet bedroom trying to fall asleep.
In these situations, the contrast between silence and the loud buzzing in your ear can suddenly make the condition more disturbing than usual, resulting in stress and anxiety when you should be falling asleep.
If this sounds like you, then getting a good night’s sleep should be your first goal. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health, so it is essential you do whatever you can to overcome your issues and get the rest you need.
Although stress and anxiety aren’t always directly related to tinnitus, if you notice it gets worse before sleep, you should find ways to relax more before going to bed . In this sense, anything you can do to ensure you are relaxed when you go to bed should help.
How to combat your tinnitus
There is no perfect answer to this million-dollar question as it all depends on the cause and severity of your condition. That being said, there are still a number of ways that you may be able to help keep your condition more manageable and under control.
1) Use white noise
White noise apps and players are widely used for many purposes promoting better sleep, relaxation, increased concentration and achieving better results at work or in your studies. To cancel out tinnitus, all you need to do is tune your white noise sound to the same pitch that you hear in your ears.
2) Mask it with music
Music is a great way to distract your brain from the constant buzzing or ringing. Specially designed sleeping headphones and sound pillows allow you to do this while you’re actually in bed. Quiet background music, talk radio or even street sounds could mask the noise in your ears by shifting your focus to something else.
3) Relax your neck and shoulders
Some cases of tinnitus can be made worse by a stiff neck and shoulders, which means that massages, meditation and anything else you can do to relax this area may be able to help. Here are some tips for self-massage to help you sleep better.
4) Improve blood flow to your head
You can find relief simply by exercising and thus improving blood flow to the head. This means that jogging, swimming, cycling, yoga and other forms of exercise may be of huge benefit.
5) Watch what you eat
There is a link between cardiovascular issues and some particular types of tinnitus, which is another reason why it’s important that you pay attention to your diet and get plenty of exercise to keep your blood vessels healthy.
6) Get enough sleep
As mentioned, tinnitus sufferers often have problems sleeping, but this can become something of a vicious cycle since fatigue from sleep deprivation often worsens the condition. Therefore, it is essential that you do whatever you can to ensure you get enough sleep. Along with white noise masking sounds, a brisk walk, relaxing bath or chamomile tea in the evening might help you sleep better.
If none of these methods help to relieve your tinnitus, it might be time to visit a doctor as tinnitus is often caused by some underlying issues. As well, your doctor will be able to offer you additional treatment options. Sometimes, even something as simple as removing built-up earwax is all it takes to finally provide relief.
Authored by: Michelle Laurey
Michelle Laurey is a passionate wordsmith who especially enjoys writing on a cloudy day. Always interested in ways which can help individuals reach their full potential in life, she enjoys producing stories on entrepreneurship, productivity, lifestyle, and health.