At Night, the Ringing in my Ears Seems Worse

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. dealing with a medical disorder known as tinnitus then you most likely know that it tends to get worse when you are trying to fall asleep. But why would this be? The ringing is a phantom noise caused by some medical condition 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 fairly simple. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common condition.

Tinnitus, what is it?

For the majority of individuals, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just compounds the confusion. The person dealing 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 alone isn’t a disease or disorder, but an indication that something else is wrong. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this condition. Tinnitus is frequently the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. People with hearing loss often don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it develops so slowly. This phantom noise is a warning flag to warn you of a change in your hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a clear comprehension of why it occurs. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical issues. The inner ear contains lots of tiny hair cells made to move in response to sound waves. Tinnitus can indicate there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from transmitting electrical signals to the brain. Your brain translates these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The absence of sound is the base of the current theory. Your brain will begin to fill in for information that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It attempts to compensate for sound that it’s not receiving.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain a few things. 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 are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you know it or not. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.

All of a sudden, the brain becomes confused as it listens for sound to process. When confronted with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are often the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts 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 difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise might be the answer.

Generating noise at night

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

But, there are also devices made to help individuals who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines generate soothing sounds that you can sleep through. 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 worsened by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If introducing sound into your nighttime program 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.