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Tinnitus at night

How to stop ringing in the ears at night

Tinnitus and ringing in the ears worsening at night

Tinnitus is an auditory disorder that manifests in intermittent or continuous sounds, like ringing in the ears. This condition can cause difficulty sleeping, as you may only have tinnitus at night or find that your ear ringing worsens at night.

Dr. Tom Tedeschi

Reviewed by

Dr. Thomas Tedeschi, Au.D.

Chief Audiology Officer, Miracle-Ear

What is tinnitus at night?

As mentioned, tinnitus is an auditory disorder that can cause you to hear sounds like whistling, buzzing or ringing in the ears even when they are not there. Tinnitus usually occurs throughout the day, but you may experience ringing in one or both ears during the night and when trying to sleep. Although day and night symptoms are the same, it's common for it to feel louder at night than during the day, and why you may feel it is worse at night.

Symptoms of nighttime tinnitus

After a night out in a noisy space such as a concert, club or party, it's normal to go to bed and hear annoying sounds in your ear. This can sound like whistling and ringing in the ears and is especially common before falling asleep. All of these result from excessive and prolonged exposure to loud noise. These loud noises damage the hair cells of the cochlea, the innermost part of the ear.

Usually, these symptoms disappear within a day. If you hear these noises when you go to sleep, you may have nighttime tinnitus. The sounds you may hear range from a high-pitched ringing in one ear, or both. You may also hear single beeps or a monotonous, lower-pitched murmur. 

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Causes: Why do you hear ringing in your ears at night?

If you are experiencing tinnitus in the day and night, some common causes include: 

If you are experiencing night tinnitus, common causes include prolonged exposure to loud noises, which can cause tinnitus once in bed. This happens because once you are in a quiet area, such as your bedroom, the ringing in your ears will become more apparent and audible. If this has happened to you for many nights, please consult a hearing specialist.

Why does tinnitus get worse at night?

You are aware of your tinnitus due to the noise level in your environment. If the space is quieter, you may focus on your tinnitus. If the area is louder, your tinnitus may become less apparent.  Each day, our ears pick up many sounds subconsciously due to distractions or because they are louder. For this reason, your tinnitus is less noticeable when surrounded by other sounds and noises.  Conversely, when you go to bed at night to go to sleep, you usually find yourself in a much quieter environment, causing tinnitus to worsen, which can lead you  to have difficulty falling asleep.

In addition to a reduction in environmental noise, the simple act of closing your eyes when going to bed determines a lack of visual stimulation that reduces our attention only to the auditory sense, with the consequent heightened awareness of all those sensations that come from this organ.

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Treating different types of tinnitus

Regardless of which type of tinnitus you may experience, it can be a frustrating symptom to live with. Luckily, several treatment options are available to help manage your tinnitus, including hearing aids. If you think you suffer from tinnitus, schedule an appointment at your nearest Miracle-Ear location today.

How to stop ringing ears at night

Some remedies that can help you reduce your tinnitus in general or help you cope with it. Here are a few specific remedies that can help with nighttime tinnitus:

  • Sound Therapy: Sound therapy is a treatment that raises the ambient sound making your tinnitus symptoms less apparent. Sound therapy solutions can include wearing devices that interfere with your tinnitus or bedside devices that provide different soothing sounds to help you sleep
  • Some breathing exercises or practicing yoga before bed can help calm tinnitus and help you rest
  • Counseling: therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation training, biofeedback, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help cope with tinnitus symptoms
  • Supplements: Melatonin can help you sleep better at night and reduce tinnitus symptoms. Results may vary depending on your body

Other solutions that can improve sleep quality and consequently help reduce nighttime tinnitus triggers are:

  • Structure a relaxing and regular evening and sleep routine: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid looking at electronic screens before going to bed: the bright blue light spectrum emitted from phones, televisions, computers and many other screens mimics sunlight and causes the brain to stop secreting melatonin
  • Reduce alcoholic, caffeine and nicotine intake
  • Drink natural herbal teas
  • Listen before bedtime to a playlist of relaxing sounds or white noises
  • Play sports regularly
  • Keep your bedroom at a temperature neither too high nor too low

There is no ideal sleeping position to reduce ringing in the ears at night. Some professionals advise against sleeping on your stomach, but there is no evidence this will help. The only real advice on sleeping positions is to make sure that while lying down to sleep, you don't accidentally block off your ears, as ringing in your ears can become louder and more noticeable.

Earplugs can help keep your tinnitus from getting worse if you're exposed to loud noises, such as at concerts or parties. However, in the case of tinnitus at night, sleeping with earplugs does not help reduce tinnitus and can actually cause more harm because:

  • If not used with care, earplugs can increase the buildup of earwax, one of the common causes of tinnitus;
  • Earplugs at night will further enhance the perception of silence, which can make it easier to perceive the ringing in the ears typical of tinnitus.

For people with hearing impairments, hearing aids can improve your hearing capacity while reducing your perception of tinnitus. The latest generation of hearing aids provide auditory distractions and induce relaxation to help relieve your tinnitus at night. If you want to learn more about Miracle-Ear hearing aids, book a free consultation at a clinic near you
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Explore our hearing aids

Another treatment option is a hearing aid for tinnitus. These hearing aids produce a sound that masks the sound of tinnitus. Discover Miracle-Ear's range of hearing aids and get advice on the best solution according to your specific needs!

Consult a doctor if your tinnitus is pulsatile (you can hear your heartbeat pulsing in your ear); likewise, if you experience hearing loss, vertigo or dizziness. You can also contact a hearing care specialist at Miracle-Ear to understand whether you should see your doctor. 

There is no scientific evidence that sleep apnea and tinnitus are directly linked, even if the link is the subject of studies such as "Higher prevalence and increased severity of sleep-disordered breathing in male patients with chronic tinnitus: Our experience with 173 cases" by Lai et al.

However, sleep apnea and tinnitus may be linked indirectly. Tinnitus at night can be one of the main causes of finding it hard to sleep and cause poor quality sleep in general. The annoying ringing in the ears common in tinnitus at night can also be a symptom of an undiagnosed sleep disorder, like sleep apnea. 

Moreover, if you're not getting the sleep you need, your tinnitus is more annoying and difficult to tolerate. Being more annoyed by your tinnitus symptoms also makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

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