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How to sleep with tinnitus

If you suffer from tinnitus, it is very likely that you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, when tinnitus seems to get worse. This happens because our pain perception intensifies in the silence and darkness of our bedroom, but also because the absence of the daytime environment noises makes tinnitus more noticeable.

Tinnitus sufferers often move and turn in their bed without being able to fall asleep. All of this has a negative impact on the patient’s life.

Sleep plays a key role on health and allows our body to recover from the strain of the day and restore energy. However, it should be noted that we do not share the same sleep habits.

Adults (from age 26 to 64) need to sleep for 7 to 9 hours. People who are 65 years in age or older need less hours of sleep: from 7 to 8 hours per day.

If tinnitus disturbs the usual peace of the night, here are some strategies and tips to help you regain quality sleep.

In the daytime

  • Do exercise on a regular basis. If you cannot work out at the gym, try at least to do brisk walking. However, physical activity before bedtime is not recommended.

  • Eat light in the evening and avoid food high in fats, which can cause heartburn.

  • Limit the intake of caffeine and nicotine at night. As a doctor I have to say that it would be better not to smoke at all and drink a maximum of two cups of coffee during the day (breakfast and lunch) since caffeine and nicotine are stimulants.

Before going to sleep

  • Prepare your bedroom to facilitate sleep: comfortable mattress and bed linen, blinds, draperies and curtains keeping light out, soothing wall colours, cool temperature

  • A relaxing and peaceful sound environment: no television but soft music through headphones or pillows with built-in speakers to avoid annoying your partner. This sound environment will allow you to reduce your tinnitus so that it will not disturb your sleep.

While in bed

  • Avoid negative thoughts. Keep your problems out of the bedroom.

  • Avoid all mentally stimulating activities (watching TV, playing videogames, eating, working)

  • Set a timer to make your music turn off after you fall asleep

Drug treatment

There is currently no drug treatment for tinnitus. However, some physicians prescribe to their patients benzodiazepine-based drugs which are suspected to cause serious side effects, such as behavioural disorders, amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease.

What if you still cannot fall asleep?

If sleep does not occur after 30 minutes, get up and change room in order to clear your mind. You can also engage in a quiet activity like reading or meditating. It is also recommended to go to bed only when sleepy-tired and to avoid checking the time while trying to fall asleep.

I hope you will say goodbye to your sleepless nights.

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