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How to Sleep When You Have Tinnitus
Does tinnitus make it difficult to sleep?
There’s nothing quite like a refreshing night’s sleep to prepare you for a busy day ahead. Which makes it all the more galling that you can’t sleep because of the constant ringing, roaring or whistling in your ears that is tinnitus.
But rather than be a victim to your tinnitus, there are strategies which can give you control and make that elusive good night’s sleep less of a dream and more of a reality.
Also known as sound generators, these devices provide a constant, soothing low-level background sound. This gives the tinnitus sufferer something to focus their attention on, other than the aggravating whistling in the ears.
This is a distraction technique, and works in the same way that you forget about hunger when watching an engrossing movie. Tinnitus relaxers are available as a variety of products, such as a bedside sound generator, tiny earphones, a pillow speaker or sound pillows. The latter are great if your partner isn’t keen on listening to what your choice of background sound. Speak to your audiologist about the options available.
Alternatively, purchase a tune-out tinnitus CD or track and play it over your stereo or MP3 player.
Mind and body
Be active during the day. Not only does exercise make you tired, but it also helps diffuse tension and anxiety. Also, know that the anticipation of poor sleep makes it more likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of fighting against the tinnitus, try to mentally accept and embrace it. If you recognize the tinnitus and label it as part of who you are, then it loses some of the power to disturb.
Also, adjust your attitude to sleep. Look on it as a reward for the day just gone, rather than something essential for the day to come. This helps take some of the pressure off going to sleep, which paradoxically makes nodding off more likely.
Take the stress out of trying to get to sleep by telling yourself you are lying down and resting, which is recharging the body, and that if sleep comes it’s a bonus.
We’ve all heard of winding down before bedtime, so how about putting theory into practice? Before bedtime, unburden your mind by writing down a list of things that are bothering you. If necessary, keep a pen and paper by the bed and as worries pop into your mind, write them down and then let go of them.
It’s also helpful to learn deep breathing or a similar relaxation technique. Again, this gives your mind something to focus on other than the tinnitus, which is a sound way of putting things back in their right full place.
And finally, a percentage of tinnitus sufferers have a problem amenable to correction. Always visit your general practitioner for a health check, and your audiologist for a hearing test, before assuming you are stuck with tinnitus for life.