Why is the Ringing in my Ears Worse at Night?

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

Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for the majority of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But why would this be? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical disorder like hearing loss, it’s not an external sound. Of course, knowing what it is will not clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often at night.

The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus gets louder as you attempt to sleep, you need to know the hows and whys of this very common medical problem.

Tinnitus, what is it?

For most individuals, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. 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 condition on its own. It is generally linked to significant hearing loss. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is often gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing starts. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these sounds, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Presently medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what causes tinnitus. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical conditions. The inner ear has lots of tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send signals to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain translates these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The absence of sound is the base of the current hypothesis. Your brain will start to fill in for information that it’s not getting because of hearing loss. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

That would clarify some things regarding tinnitus. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets worse at night for some people.

Why does tinnitus get worse at night?

You may not even realize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It will faintly hear sounds coming from another room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to fall asleep.

Suddenly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain increases in response. When faced with complete silence, it resorts to creating its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to induce hallucinations as the brain attempts to insert information, including auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus could get louder at night because it’s so quiet. Creating sound might be the remedy for individuals who can’t sleep due to that aggravating ringing in the ear.

Generating noise at night

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

But, there are also devices designed to help those with tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines replicate nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. The soft sound soothes the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on might do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play calming sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can cause an increase in your tinnitus. For example, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could be a contributing factor. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If adding sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn about treatment options by making an appointment with us today.


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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