Why is the Ringing in my Ears Louder at Night?

Man in bed at night suffering insomnia from severe tinnitus and ringing in the ear.

If you are one of the millions of individuals in the U.S. suffering from a medical condition called tinnitus then you probably know that it tends to get worse when you are attempting to fall asleep. But why should this be? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears is not an actual noise but a side-effect of a medical issue like hearing loss, either lasting or temporary. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.

The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases as you attempt to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this very common medical problem.

What is tinnitus?

For most individuals, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just compounds the confusion. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but no one else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a maelstrom to you.

Tinnitus by itself isn’t a disease or disorder, but a sign that something else is happening. Substantial hearing loss is generally at the base of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Individuals who have hearing loss often don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it progresses so slowly. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re warning you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it occurs. It could be a symptom of numerous medical problems including inner ear damage. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that move in response to sound. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The absence of sound is the base of the current theory. The brain stays on the alert to receive these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills in that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It gets perplexed by the lack of feedback from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain a few things. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. That could also be the reason why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

You may not even realize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to fall asleep.

Suddenly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one response when faced with complete silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are often the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus might get louder at night because it’s so quiet. If you are having a hard time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise may be the answer.

Generating noise at night

A fan running is often enough to decrease tinnitus symptoms for many people. Just the sound of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.

But, there are also devices made to help people with tinnitus get to sleep. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. If you were to leave a TV on, it might be distracting, but white noise machines create calming sounds that you can sleep through. Instead, you could try an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If adding sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to find out about treatment options by making an appointment with us right away.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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