How does tinnitus affect sleep?
Tinnitus can, though does not always, affect sleep. Some people with tinnitus may experience sleep disturbances. Worrying about not getting enough sleep, the quality of sleep or tinnitus can make things worse, especially if you already tend to sleep badly.
How can I improve how I sleep if I have tinnitus?
If tinnitus is affecting your sleep, there are many things you can do to try to improve your sleeping pattern and the quality of your sleep. It may take a bit of time to see what works for you, and to get used to a new routine, but hopefully you’ll soon notice the benefits. If you are concerned about your general sleeping pattern, speak to your GP.
Tips for sleeping well
- Get up at the same time each day – even at weekends. Try not to nap in the day or catch up on lost sleep, as this won’t improve your sleeping pattern.
- Take daily exercise – such as 30 minutes of walking, gardening or cycling. Exercise at least four hours before you go to bed to allow your body to cool down.
- Reduce your intake of nicotine and caffeine – both are stimulants that can keep you awake. Stop drinking tea and coffee four hours before you go to bed.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol – it may help you get to sleep initially, but it may cause you to wake sooner, once the effects have worn off, and stop you getting back to sleep.
- Avoid over-the-counter medicines – these may have a similar effect to alcohol. You may find herbal remedies and natural healthcare products help.
- Try relaxation exercises – these can be extremely helpful (see our reducing stress and anxiety section). Practise during the day and find a short exercise to try when you in bed.
- Clear your mind before bedtime – If you have worries, set aside around half an hour earlier in the evening to think about how to resolve your problems. Write your ideas down. Try not to think about them as you’re trying to get to sleep.
- Introduce gentle sound into your environment – this can help you to relax and distract you from your tinnitus. You could use an electric fan, soft music or a clock with a prominent tick. Or you could try a sound product specifically developed for people with tinnitus. Visit our shop for ideas.
- ‘Wind down’ at least an hour before bed – have a warm bath, a milky drink or listen to relaxing music. Try to read, watch TV or surf the internet earlier in the evening. This helps to draw a line between daytime and bedtime and will help you to get ready for sleep.
- Don’t eat just before bed or during the night – eating will boost your energy levels and may make you more alert, which can increase your awareness of tinnitus. However, do make sure that you’ve eaten enough earlier in the evening, as hunger can keep you awake.
- Only go to bed when you feel tired – trying to force sleep may be counter-productive, but simply resting in bed may be beneficial.
- Think about room temperature and the bedding you use – if you’re too hot or too cold in your bed, you’re more likely to wake up during the night.
For more information about getting a good night's sleep and products that can help, see our factsheet stress and tinnitus.