At Night, the Ringing in my Ears Seems Louder

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

Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for the majority of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears isn’t an actual noise but a side-effect of a medical issue like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing gets louder at night.

The truth is more common sense than you might think. But first, we have to discover a little more about this all-too-common disorder.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most people, that is true. The person dealing with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a tornado to you.

Tinnitus by itself is not a disease or disorder, but a sign that something else is happening. It is typically associated with substantial hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is setting in. Individuals who have hearing loss often don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it progresses so gradually. Your hearing is changing if you start to hear these noises, and they’re alerting you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a clear comprehension of why it happens. It might be a symptom of a number of medical problems including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear contains lots of tiny hair cells designed to move in response to sound waves. Tinnitus can indicate there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from sending electrical signals to the brain. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The present theory regarding tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will start to fill in for signals that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It attempts to compensate for sound that it’s not getting.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify 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 louder at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you know it or not. It will faintly hear sounds coming from a different room or around the corner. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.

All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it listens for sound to process. It only knows one response when faced with total silence – generate noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, such as phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where none exists.

In other words, your tinnitus may get louder at night because it’s so quiet. Producing sound may be the remedy for people who can’t sleep because of that annoying ringing in the ear.

Producing noise at night

For some people suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. The loudness of the ringing is reduced just by the sound of the fan motor.

But you can also get devices that are specifically made to decrease tinnitus sounds. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise calms the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on might do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play calming sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can trigger an increase in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If adding sound into your nighttime routine doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to find out about treatment solutions by scheduling 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.