At Night, the Ringing in my Ears Seems Louder

Man in bed at night suffering insomnia from severe tinnitus and ringing in the ear.

If you are one of the millions of individuals in the U.S. suffering from a medical condition known as tinnitus then you most likely know that it often gets worse when you are trying to fall asleep. But why should this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears is not an actual noise but a complication of a medical problem like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. Of course, knowing what it is will not explain why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often during the night.

The real reason is fairly straightforward. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common condition.

What is tinnitus?

To say tinnitus is not a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. It’s a noise no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are going off in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.

Tinnitus by itself is not a disease or condition, but a sign that something else is wrong. Substantial hearing loss is generally the root of this condition. Tinnitus is frequently the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss tends to be gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing starts. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest conundrums and doctors don’t have a clear understanding of why it occurs. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical issues. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Tinnitus often means there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from sending electrical messages to the brain. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The current hypothesis pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will start to fill in for signals that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and tries to compensate for it.

That would explain some things about tinnitus. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different conditions that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. That could also be why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why does tinnitus get louder at night?

You may not even realize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.

All of a sudden, the brain becomes confused as it searches for sound to process. When confronted with total silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are frequently the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems louder. If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise might be the answer.

How to generate noise at night

A fan running is often enough to reduce tinnitus symptoms for many individuals. Just the sound of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.

But, there are also devices designed to help individuals who have tinnitus get to sleep. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. The soft sound calms the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on might do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.

What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to become severe 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 program doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to learn about treatment solutions by making an appointment with us right away.


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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