At Night, The Buzzing in my Ears Seems Louder

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

Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for most of the millions of individuals in the US that suffer with it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical disorder like hearing loss, it’s not an external sound. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.

The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases as you attempt to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this really common medical issue.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus is not a real sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. It’s a sound no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.

Tinnitus is a sign that something is wrong, not a condition on its own. It is generally linked to substantial hearing loss. For many, tinnitus is the first sign they get that their hearing is at risk. Hearing loss tends to be gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing starts. This phantom sound is a warning flag to warn you of a change in how you hear.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest conundrums and doctors don’t have a strong understanding of why it occurs. It may be a symptom of numerous medical issues including inner ear damage. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells made to move in response to sound waves. Tinnitus often means there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from delivering electrical signals to the brain. These electrical signals are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly interpret like a car horn or a person speaking.

The absence of sound is the basis of the current hypothesis. The brain stays on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t come, it fills that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It tries to compensate for sound that it’s not receiving.

That would clarify some things about tinnitus. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different illnesses that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some individuals.

Why are tinnitus sounds worse at night?

You may not even detect it, but your ear receives some sounds during the day. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.

Suddenly, all the sound vanishes and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. When faced 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, your tinnitus might get louder at night because it’s too quiet. If you’re having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, producing some noise might be the solution.

Producing noise at night

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

But you can also buy devices that are specifically made to lessen tinnitus sounds. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise calms the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the capability 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 trigger an increase in your tinnitus. For example, if you’re drinking too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If adding sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to find out about treatment options by scheduling 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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