How does tinnitus affect sleep?
One of the biggest impacts for people with tinnitus in Tucson is poor sleep. For many Arizona residents, that ringing in the ears is a distraction that interferes with the ability to fall, and/or stay, asleep. Learning some tricks to help you sleep will result in more energy and happiness.
How many people are affected by tinnitus?
Tinnitus affects about 50 million Americans. It is most often described as a ringing sensation in the ears, but may also present as a buzzing, roaring, whooshing or other sound. Tinnitus has a profound effect on many areas of your daily life, and one of the biggest complaints is the way it interferes with sleep.
Tips for getting better sleep with tinnitus
Your Tucson audiologist recommends the following strategies for getting a good night’s sleep when you are dealing with tinnitus.
Masking techniques prove beneficial to many tinnitus patients. The concept involves playing a background noise just a little bit quieter than your tinnitus in order to help your brain adjust to the ringing in your ears and eventually tune it out. Smartphone apps that play white noise and other soothing nature sounds are popular; you can also turn on a fan or air conditioner or listen to soft music and get the same benefit.
Establish a bedtime routine
Consistency is important in training your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it every day; this means not only going to bed at the same time, but waking up at the same time, too. Even on the weekends!
Learn to relax
Instead of watching mind-numbing reality TV or scrolling through your phone before bed, practice relaxation techniques. Try taking a hot bath, giving yourself a trigger point self-massage using a tennis ball, stretching, meditating, reading a book, listening to relaxing music or practicing breathing techniques.
Turn off electronic devices
Smartphones, tablets and televisions all emit blue light, which mimics sunlight and prevents the body from producing melatonin needed to fall asleep. Turn off these devices or download a screen-dimming app, or alternatively, switch your phone to “night mode.” If you like to read before bed, choose an actual book rather than a Kindle.
Darken your bedroom
Ambient light of any kind disrupts normal sleeping patterns; you’ll want to make your room as dark as possible in order to make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep. Hang up blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask. You can cover the power light from a television or cable box with electrical tape for added measure; this won’t leave behind a sticky residue.
Lower the thermostat
The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees; setting your thermostat within this range will encourage deeper, more efficient sleep. If your toes turn into ice cubes when the temperature drops below 70 (this is Arizona, after all), wear a pair of socks to bed.
Limit caffeine after lunchtime
Caffeine is a stimulant; not only does it tend to keep you awake, but for many people, it’s a trigger for tinnitus. Because caffeine affects the nervous system and increases stress and anxiety, you’re likely to have trouble falling asleep—and when you do, your quality of sleep won’t be as good. If you must drink coffee or tea after lunch, stick to a single cup or make it decaf.
Don’t just toss and turn
If you simply can’t get to sleep and find yourself tossing and turning, don’t stay in bed hoping you’ll magically drift off—you won’t. Instead, get up and make yourself a light snack. Digestion uses energy, so eating a small snack can actually make you feel tired. Afterward, find a cozy spot to sit down, play soft music and read a book (one with actual pages). When you begin to yawn or feel tired, go back to bed. By now your body should be ready for sleep.
If these strategies don’t help and you still find yourself lacking quality sleep on a regular basis, contact a hearing specialist in Tucson. Your doctor will help you find a treatment plan for your tinnitus that helps you get much-needed sleep.