Sleep tips for tinnitus - The Oto Guide 2021

Fatema M Dawoodbhoy

Oto Intern | 5th Year Medical Student
February 1, 2021

Welcome back to the Oto tinnitus guides, and welcome to 2021! Up until now, we’ve covered a range of topics from tinnitus causes to treatments to self-help tips. We’ve also run through what we think are the best tinnitus apps available out there.

Tinnitus can make it very difficult to sleep. The ringing or buzzing in your ear while you lay in bed can be very distracting. While trying to block it out might be all you want to do, your mind will often focus on it more.  

I have seen first hand the effects tinnitus can have on a person through my mum. Difficulty sleeping does not only affect your night but also the following day. We all know sleep is vital, and I’m sure we have all experienced the irritability, short-temper, and fatigue that comes with a bad night’s sleep. Sleep does not just re-energise us for next day's activities, it also is important in boosting our immunity, improving our mental-wellbeing and can ward off diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.

Here are some of Otos top tips for getting a good night sleep with tinnitus.

Oto's sleep tips for tinnitus
Oto's sleep tips for tinnitus

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene does not refer to brushing your teeth and washing your face before bed. This refers to curating a sleep plan to get your body into a routine when it comes to bedtime. This can help relax your body and mind into a more peaceful state, helping you sleep. By sticking to a routine, you create triggers and cues to inform your body when it is time to drift off.

The following tips have been shown to be helpful:

  • Dim the lights an hour before bed. This helps your body prepare for sleep.
  • Drink a non-caffeinated hot drink after eating
  • Ensure you stick to the same bedtime every night - this programmes your body into getting sleepy at that time.
  • Guided meditation or breathing exercises can calm you down and provide some peaceful relaxation after a stressful day.
  • Avoid blue-light emitting light sources at least an hour before sleep - like phones and tablets. Blue light has been found to suppress a hormone called melatonin, which is crucial in regulating our sleep pattern and circadian rhythm.

Meditation

Never underestimate how useful breathing techniques can be. It has shown to have many  positive effects on the body. Meditation incorporates breathing exercises to help you relax and find peace. By doing this before bedtime, it will not only loosen up your mind but help you release negative thoughts and energy you accumulated during the day. Dr Andrew Weil has developed a 4-7-8 breathing technique that many people find useful.

Supplements & Medications

There are natural supplements and medications available out there that are widely used as a sleep aid for people with insomnia. It is not a long term solution to be reliant on medication, and sleeping tablets can be addictive, but they are very useful in regulating your sleep initially.

Natural supplements include:

  • Melatonin: As mentioned before, this is a naturally occurring hormone produced in our body involved in our sleep cycle. By taking melatonin supplements, you can help to initiate the body’s sleep cycle.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral in our body involved in the production of melanin. Take one pill about half an hour before bed to stimulate melatonin production.

Medications:

  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines such as diazepam slow down the body and act as a sedative to help you sleep. These medications are very effective but doctors do not like prescribing them on a long term basis as they are very addictive and are less effective after long term use.

Your room

Another way to induce sleep is to make your room sleep-friendly. Try and use your room for sleep and sleep only. There are strong associations in your mind about sleep and your bedroom. By working or watching TV in your room, you break this association and might not help you unwind and relax before bed as you associate it with negative thoughts or stress.

Keeping your bedroom sleep friendly can help with sleep hygeine.
Keeping your bedroom sleep friendly can help with sleep hygeine.

Ear plugs

You might think ear plugs are a good solution to blocking out the sound associated with your tinnitus but many people find that the tinnitus is only amplified. The aim is to drown out your tinnitus by using external noises with white noise devices or soundscape. This brings me onto my next tip.

White noise machines/soundscape

Complete absence of noise can be detrimental in tinnitus. White noise machines or soundscape apps are very useful in tinnitus as they provide external ambient noises to mask the ringing/buzzing sound interfering with your sleep.

When using one of these machines, it is recommended to set the volume of the white noise to only just above the volume of your tinnitus to sufficiently mask it. Nowadays, a lot of tinnitus apps come with a white noise or sound feature inbuilt. If you do not like simple white noise, you can also play wind, rain or forest sounds.

Oto has reviewed the top 8 Tinnitus apps here!

Can Oto help with sleep?

Oto is a mobile app that brings together all the effective therapies into a progressive programme of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), targeted mindfulness, relaxation therapy and education. Not only does Oto provide science-based therapy to better manage tinnitus but it also offers mindfulness programmes specifically targeted at reducing stress linked to worsening tinnitus.

Oto has therapy specifically targeted towards helping you sleep, whilst providing access to a growing collection of sleep stories to help you drift off. Oto also provides access to a collection of specially curated masks that you can use to help relax, sleep, or just provide some respite from your tinnitus.

The Oto team consists of doctors, audiologists, therapists, voice artists, sound engineers and researchers, and has decades of experience in helping people with tinnitus and insight from all walks of life.

Download Oto now and try for free here.

What will work for me?

All the tips I have provided are just that, tips. Make sure to try these out and find the one or a combination of tips that works best for you. We are all unique and what might work for one might not work for you. Hope these tips bring you some deep sleep in the near future.



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