For people with tinnitus, silence is less than relaxing - it's an opportunity for the ringing in their head to take over. This can cause insomnia, exhaustion, and mental distress. Over a long period of time, these issues can even lead to depression and chronic fatigue. However, most people need some form of "silence" in order to fall asleep. While fans, music, and ambient noise can fade into the background, tinnitus does not.
Instead of lying awake, it's recommended that people with tinnitus take measures to fall asleep faster. However, over-the-counter drugs and sleeping medications shouldn't be used over long periods of time. Luckily, there are other ways to encourage sleep.
Wind Down Before Bed
Many doctors recommend that people begin winding down for bed at least an hour before they actually lie down. This can encourage a healthy "shut-down" for the brain. Television and books aren't recommended, as they require too much focus for the brain to properly disengage and begin feeling tired. Gentle stretching, listening to soft music, and meditation are all good ways to calm the body and mind before bed.
Many people find comfort in certain scents. For example, lavender is a common "bedtime" scent for many people. Others might prefer vanilla, cinnamon, or other pleasant smells. Using lotion or lighting candles can spread the scents around your bedroom, along with hypoallergenic sprays. While it may not seem like a viable solution at first, it's recommended that you keep trying. The more you associate the calming scents with sleep, the sleepier they will make you feel.
Progressive Relaxation & Mental Training
Many insomniacs practice progressive relaxation, regardless of whether or not they have tinnitus. It's a method that involves tensing and relaxing individual parts of your body. Once your body is entirely relaxed, you should feel sleepier than before. Most people fall asleep before they finish relaxing all their limbs, but you can keep using this method as long as you need to.
If you still have trouble falling asleep after doing this several times, try relaxing your mind and focus on calm thoughts. What you think of depends entirely on you. Some daydream about certain places, while others try to relax and think about positive things. Given enough time and relaxation, the body should drop off into sleep.
White Noise Makers
If your tinnitus is too distracting, white noise makers can help drown out the noise in your head. Many objects can produce "white noise", including actual white noise makers, fans, and even smartphone apps. To see if you would benefit from a white noise maker, try sitting close to a fan or running faucet. If your tinnitus is muted or inaudible over the sound, a white noise maker could be a worthwhile investment.
Seek Professional Help
Like in many cases with hearing conditions, professional guidance and advice can help you find better solutions. Hearing care providers are trained to identify issues with your hearing and give you the best possible options for treatment. If your tinnitus only bothers you during moments of silence, you might benefit from a tinnitus masker.
However, if your tinnitus stems from hearing loss, hearing aids might help with both issues. Many hearing aids also come with tinnitus maskers built-in. If you're curious about potential treatments and want to learn more, the Signia store locator can help you find trained hearing care professionals in your area.