Get better sleep: tips for dealing with tinnitus

Everyone has to do it: sleep. For some, getting a good night’s rest doesn’t require a second thought. But for others, nighttime brings dread and stress as they toss and turn without getting enough sleep to feel well-rested.

An adult needs an average of six to eight hours of sleep; the length of required sleep decreases with age. Throughout the night, the sleeper goes through different cycles, including deep sleep and REM sleep. These cycles are especially important to achieve emotional and physical restoration.

How tinnitus disrupts sleep

Most people experience difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives. While these phases are normal, tinnitus sufferers have to contend with another layer that makes sleeping difficult. Tinnitus noises can be perceived as extra loud when you lie down in a quiet bedroom. As you concentrate on the ringing, you’ll have a harder time falling asleep. 

Sometimes, this can lead to worrying and anxiety once bedtime is near- and less sleep at night leads to exhaustion during the day, which in turn affects the sleep pattern. Through this vicious cycle, anxiety and exhaustion end up having a worse effect on sleep than the tinnitus itself, according to the British Tinnitus Association.

Establish a bedtime routine

Humans are creatures of habit, so it’s important to utilize this knowledge and create a sleep routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day are important tools in aiding better sleep.

Establishing a nighttime ritual follows the same principle. Try sipping a cup of chamomile tea, establishing a skincare routine, reading two chapters of a book or making a list of tomorrow’s tasks and do this every night.

The bedroom itself should be for sleeping only. This helps the brain associate the environment with sleep. This means no mindless scrolling through social media in bed or working on your laptop from the comfort of your sheets. If you’re working from home in a tight space that forces you to work in your bedroom, try establishing work and sleep zones within the room.

Use a noise machine

Masking environmental sounds, and if possible, the ringing itself, is beneficial for many tinnitus sufferers. Ambient noise doesn’t have to mean white noise– nature sounds, waves crashing, music and fan sounds are all good options.

Dedicated white noise machines exist, as well as pillow speakers and dedicated headphones. The easiest way to try out this method is to download one of the many noise apps on your smartphone.

Practice meditation before bed

Mindfulness meditation has grown in popularity over recent years. No surprise, given it can lower stress levels and improve sleep. A study also found meditation can help tinnitus sufferers manage the condition. 

Getting started is easy and doesn’t have to be longer than five minutes in the beginning. Just concentrate on your breathing, and if your mind wanders to your surroundings, worries or tinnitus, consciously return your attention to your breathing.

Seek medical advice

If you suffer from tinnitus and haven’t consulted with a medical professional, it might be beneficial to make an appointment. Tinnitus related to hearing loss, a common cause, can often be reduced by treating the hearing loss with hearing aids or other therapy. Getting better sleep with tinnitus is possible with the right approach.

Reducing general stress in your life can also assist in improving sleep. Check out these tips to reduce stress.