Around 10 to 15 percent of people suffer from chronic tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling or whining in one or both ears. The sound can be extremely irritating and sometimes makes it difficult to hear external sounds. When the ringing in your ears won’t go away, it affects more than just your mood, but your sleep as well.
What can you do to sleep more soundly?
Trying to sleep can be difficult when silence magnifies the noise in your ears. Consider these tips to help make drifting off to sleep less of a struggle:
- Limit caffeine and nicotine — While you don’t have to give these up completely, both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you awake and alert. It’s better to cut down on these during the evening.
- Avoid thinking about your tinnitus — The more you think about your tinnitus, the more irritating it will become, especially if you’re in a silent room. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in this thought loop while trying to sleep. Instead, focus on relaxing things (e.g., a day spent at the beach) to distract you.
- If you’re not asleep after an hour, get up — Tossing and turning when you can’t sleep is frustrating, which causes more stress and makes it even harder to doze off. Try getting up, going into another room, and doing something relaxing, like reading, until you feel tired again. However, avoid watching television or getting on the computer, as staring at screens has been linked to insomnia.
- Mask the noise — Listening to low-frequency white noise at bedtime can help distract you from tinnitus. Sounds like rain, static, or ocean waves can help mask tinnitus noise and encourage relaxation.
- Unwind an hour before bed — A busy mind makes it more difficult for someone to fall asleep. Reading a book, mediating, or using other relaxation techniques can clear your mind.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule — Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day so that your body and mind recognize your schedule and naturally stick to it. It sounds simple, but consistency has been proven highly effective against difficulties falling asleep and waking up feeling refreshed.
- Practice relaxation techniques — Find relaxation techniques that work for you to help cope with stress. If you are less stressed during the day, you’re less likely to develop worrisome thoughts before you go to sleep. Exercise is a great stress reliever that helps you “burn off” stress that can otherwise make tinnitus sounds more pronounced and sleeping more difficult.
Consult your hearing care professional
If all else fails, going to your hearing care professional is always a good idea. They can provide you with treatments and techniques to reduce the amount of attention you pay to your tinnitus, which in turn makes sleeping easier.