Why Does That Weird Ringing in My Head Get Worse at Night?

Tinnitus, the medical term for the perception of a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears without an external source, can be a disconcerting experience. For many individuals, the symptoms of tinnitus seem to intensify during nighttime hours. What explains this nocturnal escalation? This article explores the various factors contributing to this phenomenon and offers some actionable suggestions for management.

The Silence of the Night

Reduced Ambient Noise

One of the leading theories about the intensification of tinnitus at night is the reduced level of ambient noise. During the day, our auditory system is constantly stimulated by a multitude of sounds: from the rustling of leaves and human conversations to the hustle and bustle of daily life. These sounds can effectively ‘mask’ the perception of tinnitus. However, the quiet of the night makes the tinnitus noise more pronounced, making it more noticeable and distressing.

Heightened Focus

Another aspect that adds to the nighttime exacerbation is the absence of daytime distractions. During the day, cognitive and physical tasks can divert our attention away from the ringing or buzzing in our ears. At night, especially when trying to fall asleep, the lack of distractions can lead to heightened focus on tinnitus symptoms, making them seem more severe.

Physiological Factors

Blood Flow Dynamics

The human body’s circulatory system undergoes certain changes during nighttime, mostly related to the body’s preparation for rest and rejuvenation. For some people, these changes in blood flow can contribute to the intensification of tinnitus symptoms.

Hormonal Changes

The body’s production of certain hormones like cortisol decreases at night. The reduced cortisol levels can influence the severity of tinnitus, as cortisol has a role in regulating stress and inflammation, both of which can affect tinnitus.

Psychological Components

Anxiety and Stress

The lack of distractions and the quietness of night can lead to increased stress and anxiety levels for individuals already distressed by their tinnitus symptoms. Anxiety tends to heighten the perception of tinnitus, creating a vicious cycle.

Managing Nighttime Tinnitus

Sound Therapy

White noise machines or specialized tinnitus maskers can produce sounds that interfere with the perception of tinnitus, making it less noticeable. There are even smartphone apps designed to produce soothing sounds to help with tinnitus.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT techniques can be used to retrain the brain to be less aware of tinnitus sounds. While this doesn’t remove the tinnitus, it can make the condition less distressing.

Medical Consultation

If tinnitus symptoms become debilitating or are accompanied by other health issues, it may be prudent to consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation. Sometimes, tinnitus can be a symptom of an underlying condition that may require medical treatment.

In Summary

The exacerbation of tinnitus at night is a phenomenon influenced by a multitude of factors, from the silence of the night and reduced ambient noise to physiological changes in blood flow and hormonal levels. Understanding these factors is the first step in managing this condition effectively. Implementing strategies like sound therapy and cognitive behavioral techniques, along with medical consultation, can go a long way in managing nighttime tinnitus effectively. Always consult healthcare professionals for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Patti Bryan
Patti Bryan
May 10, 2023
I started with this practice ten years ago, and when the audiologist retired, I was wondering I’d like “the new guy” as well. I totally do! Dr. Tomas Cabrera is so nice, so skilled, I was smitten right away. Getting to see pictures of his newborn, at my insistent request, was the icing on the cake! He’s professional, warm, patient and really knows his stuff. I couldn’t be happier. And Gail is still as wonderful as ever.
seaborg priscilla
seaborg priscilla
May 8, 2023
Dr. Caberra is excellent and wonderful. Gail is easy and great to work with. I highly recommend them for all hearing aid needs. Great work!
Barbara Silvestro
Barbara Silvestro
May 5, 2023
Extremely pleased with the attention received, Dr Caberra extremely personable, listens and is patient, Gail I have known for years and she knows her stuff. Great office!!
Rachel Worley
Rachel Worley
April 15, 2023
I am a fellow audiologist from SC and just met Dr. Cabrera today. He welcomed my family to his beautiful office and from our short time together I can tell he is fantastic with patients as well! He is set up for thorough best practice care with thoughtful business practices. If you are in the Charlotte area, visit Premier Audiology!
Mary Gail Broome
Mary Gail Broome
March 10, 2023
This is hands down the best place for anyone looking for an audiologist. Very individual attention to you and your needs. I use to go to 1 of the big ENT group and they never tweaked my hearing aids like Dr. C and Gayle do. You are not a number here. Was upset that things might change when Dr. Seaborg retired but not so..the same excellent service. Christina found someone who could fill her very big shoes (been coming for 9+ years.) I tell everyone they need hearing aids that this is the place to come. I brought my 82 year old mother-in-law and Dr. C and Gayle are always soooo patient with her. Thank you for the same awesome awesome care. Ive been wearing hearing aids for over 20 years and I am hearing better now than I did 10 years ago.
March 6, 2023
Tomas Cabrera, Au.D. is very thorough, thoughtful, helpful and kind. He gives articulate and informed answers to any questions I may have about my hearing and my hearing aids. I trust him completely. The office environment is very comfortable and calming. I love my hearing aids!
William Harris
William Harris
January 28, 2023
I visited Premier Audiology & Hearing Aid Center without an appointment to see if they could help resolve a problem with the hearing aids of a relative, who is 97 years old. Dr. Cabrera and Gale Prakin were most accepting, accommodating and helpful. They are an asset to the community and profession.
Judith Sutton
Judith Sutton
November 14, 2022
I am a loyal client of Premier Audiology and consider Tomas Cabrera the best audiologist available not just in this area but far beyond. Most recently I had a minor emergency on a Monday of all days. But they managed to work me in, clearly define the problem and address my needs without hesitation. Premier Audiology has state-of-the-art equipment and the expertise to make thorough use of it to give the patient a complete picture of their hearing health. The staff is personable, knowledgeable and caring. They put the patient at ease and always follow through to ensure the best results possible. I recommend Premier Audiology and staff to anyone with any kind of hearing issue! Premier Audiology is the only such provider to consider if you want the best level of care possible.