A ringing sound in your ears can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Aside from treating tinnitus and its underlying cause, you can also try sound masking and creating an optimal sleep environment.

Experiencing a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears can be distracting and uncomfortable during the day, but especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. The 10 to 25% of adults estimated to have tinnitus can also experience insomnia at night.

A lack of sleep can actually make tinnitus worse and have other adverse effects on your overall health.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble sleeping due to tinnitus, it’s important to speak with your doctor so that they can help you to diagnose and treat the cause of the tinnitus. You may also wish to establish some new sleep routines.

Many people with tinnitus find that they have a harder time falling asleep or wake up not feeling rested as a result of the tinnitus noise.

One 2021 study found that men with chronic tinnitus and insomnia were more likely to have depression symptoms while women were more likely to have headaches, neck pains, and restlessness. In both cases, this could further reduce the amount of sleep an individual gets.

It’s important to remember though that tinnitus will impact every individual differently, and that not everyone will have their sleep negatively impacted. Some people with tinnitus may find that the noises in their ears improve at night.

Some people may feel that their tinnitus is more noticeable or louder when laying their head down. This may be due to posture or pressure changes.

You may also notice that tinnitus gets louder when you’re sleeping, anxious, or in very quiet settings. This can make tinnitus noises more noticeable laying down for bed than at other times of the day.

There’s no one sleeping position that research has proven to be the best for everyone with tinnitus. An elevated head position may be helpful depending on the underlying condition or cause of the tinnitus, but more research into this is needed.

Something else to consider is that individuals with tinnitus may want to avoid blocking their ears with pillows or a blanket. This can potentially make the tinnitus louder or more noticeable.

If tinnitus is keeping you up at night, it may be helpful to:

  • Use sound masking: A fan, white noise, nature sounds, or ambient music may all help to cover up the perceived tinnitus noises.
  • Create an optimal sleeping environment: The right environment can help you to fall asleep faster and eliminate middle-of-the-night wake-ups. You’ll want to make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature. You may wish to remove all electronics from the bedroom (and not use them for a period of time before bed). You may also wish to have blackout curtains or an eye mask to help minimize light.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: Bedtime routines aren’t just for young children! They can help cue your body to relax and fall asleep quicker. It can also be helpful to aim to fall asleep and wake-up at the same time every day.
  • Meditate or journal: Anxiety and stress can increase perceived tinnitus noises, so meditating and journaling may lessen the buzzing in your ears. Collecting your thoughts before bedtime can also make it easier to fall asleep quickly.
  • Get plenty of exercise: Not only can movement improve your overall health and release endorphins, but it may make you tired enough to fall into a deep sleep quickly.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime: These can make it harder to fall asleep, and, for some individuals, these can also cause their tinnitus to temporarily become louder or more noticeable.

Remember, one of the biggest keys to reducing tinnitus during the day and night is treating the underlying cause. Your doctor can help to diagnose the cause and suggest appropriate treatments and therapies.

Tinnitus can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. If you find that you’re unable to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or not feeling refreshed in the morning due to the noise in your ears, you may want to talk with your doctor.

In addition to treating any conditions causing your tinnitus, creating an optimal sleep environment, reducing stress, and getting exercise may all help improve the quality of your sleep.