What to do if tinnitus is affecting your sleep
Find out how to take your mind off tinnitus, how to improve your sleeping habits and where to go for extra help.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night because of your tinnitus, there are different things you can do to:
- distract yourself from paying attention to your tinnitus
- improve your sleeping habits and the quality of your sleep.
If you’ve had trouble sleeping for months, or if sleep problems are having a big impact on your life, this is called insomnia.
See your GP if you have insomnia – they will help you get the support you need to sleep well.
How to take your mind off tinnitus when you’re trying to sleep
There’s a known link between stress and tinnitus. Any source of stress
can be a trigger for tinnitus, or make it worse. And some people,
though not all, find that tinnitus makes them feel stressed and anxious. These feelings aren’t always caused by tinnitus, but they can be made worse by it.
Relaxation exercises usually involve deep breathing, muscle relaxation and rhythmic exercises. They can be done anywhere at any time, including in bed before sleep. You’ll get most benefit if you do them daily.
Sound therapy involves using neutral sounds to distract you from paying attention to your tinnitus. Over time, this can help your brain to filter out tinnitus, to the point it no longer bothers you.
Until you reach that point, listening to gentle sounds when you’re trying to sleep can relax you and distract you from your tinnitus.
You can experiment with different things to find out what works best for you.
You could try:
- the TV or music
- an electric fan
- leaving a window open at night to hear noises from outside
- tinnitus apps that play soft sounds such as birdsong and rainfall
- sound therapy products including pillow speakers and headbands – some of which play sounds that only you will hear, which could be useful if you share a bed.
How to improve your sleeping habits
Do’s and don’ts to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even at weekends.
- Exercise regularly, during the day – this can include less strenuous activities like walking, cycling and gardening.
- Relax at least 1 hour before bed – for example, take a bath or read a book.
- Think about the room temperature and the bedding you use – if you’re too hot or too cold in bed, you’re more likely to wake up in the night.
- Do not nap in the day or catch up on lost sleep, as this won’t improve your sleeping pattern.
- Do not exercise less than 4 hours before bed – you need enough time to let your body cool down.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed – they are stimulants that can keep you awake.
- Do not watch TV or use devices right before bed – the bright light makes you more awake.
- Do not eat a big meal just before bed as this will boost your energy levels and may make you more alert, which can increase your awareness of tinnitus.
What to do if you need extra support with tinnitus
If you’re finding it hard to manage your tinnitus, see your GP, who can help you get the support you need.
You can also talk through anything that’s troubling you by contacting us or a listening service.
Free 24-hour listening services
These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers any time of day or night. They won’t be able to provide information about tinnitus, but you can talk about anything that’s troubling you.
Call 116 123 or email [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours
Shout Crisis Text Line
Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258
If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus and need free confidential and impartial information and support, contact RNID.
We’re open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.