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Tinnitus sounds and sleep don’t mix

As a tinnitus sufferer, you may be surprised to hear that many people with this condition actually find sleep as a time of escape, that said unfortunately, there are still many people that find sleeping with tinnitus sounds is very difficult of a night.

Everyone will experience some type of sleeping issue throughout their lifetime and it’s important to understand that there are many reasons why you may be experiencing sleeping issues. The 4 most common reasons why people have sleep issues are;


Causes of insomnia include:

  • Behaviour disorders
  • Prescribed medication
  • Health issues
  • Bad diet

Sleep Apnea

In adults, the most common cause of sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Causes of restless leg syndrome include chronic and medical conditions, including iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes.

Shift Work & Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Causes are mainly jet lag and bad sleep patterns, people with this condition often have no set time for going to sleep. If you are suffering with jet lag then your body clock fails to understand what time is best to go to sleep due to the time zone difference. Sleep issues due to shift work have a similar impact, working late nights and unsociable hours if you fail to go to bed around the same time. this will have an impact on your body clock.

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing sleep issues and thus it is important not to immediately blame tinnitus sounds on your sleep issue. If you find yourself with any of the above issues it’s important to speak with your doctor to rule out any serious health issues.

With the wide range of causes around sleep issues, how do you find out if tinnitus sounds are the main reason why you are having problems sleeping?

Tinnitus sufferers often speak about the anxiety of the condition, getting to sleep hearing a roaring noise followed by hours of overthinking, people can find it exceptionally difficult getting to sleep when they are affected by tinnitus sounds and worry.

When I look back at some of my worst times with tinnitus, doing something as simple as getting to sleep became very difficult.

Tinnitus sounds affect my thoughts throughout the day

Will I get to sleep tonight?

Why can’t I sleep?

Will the noise be different tonight?

Do I need to sleep?

I found myself in a vicious cycle, petrified if I would get to sleep – what I’ve come to realise is that with all the worry and overthinking, often after a number of hours I would fall asleep regardless of my thoughts.

The reality is our body needs sleep!

If you find yourself with similar thoughts or generally worrying about sleeping because of your tinnitus sounds then you can be certain this is why you’re having difficulty getting to sleep with tinnitus.

What can be done about sleep issues due to tinnitus sounds?

There are many things that you can do if you find yourself having sleep issues due to tinnitus sounds but it’s important to address the reasons behind this.

Some tinnitus sufferers don’t realise that overthinking and worry are causing themselves to have issues sleeping. To overcome such issues, it’s important to firstly understand the impact on the brain that worry and overthinking can have.

Fight or flight

When we find ourselves worrying or overthinking, we trigger our body’s fight or flight mode. When this is triggered it creates a physiological reaction and sees the situation as harmful.

For example:

You walk down a dark alley late at night, you feel someone walking behind you. Automatically your body becomes alert, smells, sounds your heart beat … all become more aware. Your body feels that you are in a dangerous situation, as a result adrenaline is released and you become more aware of the situation you are in. This is your body’s fight or flight mode kicking in.

Take this same situation:

You walk down the same alley, the mid-morning sun is shining and you realise someone is walking behind you, your body will not become alert as it doesn’t see this as an issue. Why? Because you are aware of your surroundings, you can see in front of you and don’t feel any danger.

Because we see tinnitus as a harmful situation we trigger our fight or flight mode, that added with trying to sleep, it causes a “stress response” which in turn keeps us awake.

What are some of the ways to stop this?

Stop worrying! It really is that simple, the fact is tinnitus sounds are not going to kill you! Although it can cause behaviour issues and feel like your life is turned upside down, the reality is many millions of sufferers actually habituate to tinnitus sounds over time. This is very important to understand, it may feel like you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel however if you implement some of the advice we share, added with patience, you will be on your way to live a tinnitus-free life.

Mental exercises

One of my favourite books ‘Mindfulness’ takes you through meditating and how to relax mentally. Relaxing mentally has to be one of the most overlooked exercises that we can do for our wellbeing. It’s estimated that we think up to 70,000 thoughts per day!  Reading books such as ‘Mindfulness‘ or using a well-known app called ‘Headspace’ are great tools to learn how to relax mentally.

Clear your thoughts before bed

This can be extremely difficult to do, often we try to fall asleep with lists of things to do the following day. One of my favourite things to do before bed is to read a fictional book. Often I find my thoughts wander off with the storytelling which leads to a better night’s sleep.

Exercise during the day

Fit people sleep better than those who are unfit. Exercising for a little as 30 minutes helps the body and mind relax.


Stop looking at Facebook and Instagram before bed! Try to unwind an hour before bed and cut out all devices.

Using the above methods will help you become relaxed and get rid of any unwanted thoughts, you may find it very difficult to unwind or lose unwanted thoughts, however it’s important to recognize that it may take some time to see real results.

If you do find yourself trying many relaxation methods and still becoming distressed, it’s important to seek professional attention from your doctor to discuss matters further.

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Guest author: Adam Sobay

#TinnitusTuesday Join Adam on Instagram and Facebook

My mission is to help anyone affected by tinnitus to go on and live a happy normal life. After being told I had tinnitus four years ago due to excessively loud noise, I had to quickly realise how to manage this condition. Through my journey, Understanding Tinnitus was founded, where we share simple informative information that will help people to manage this condition on a daily basis. 

4 replies
  1. Abed
    Abed says:

    I have a kind of tinnitus which I cant describe ,its like the sound of insects but sometimes turn to the pssing of the wind through a tube, I suffer of this unbearable aound for 27 year but now realy Im going to get crazy or kill my self to get rid of them please help me

    • Tina Lannin
      Tina Lannin says:

      Hi Abed, I used to suffer terribly with tinnitus. The best thing you can do is to check with an audiologist to make sure everything is okay. The other thing, and this is important, is try to change your attitude to tinnitus. I try not to let it stress me out, and keep busy, don’t get over tired, and try to relax as well. It’s very very difficult and I do fully sympathise.


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