Sleeping with Tinnitus 101
Around sleep revolve the most questions I get asked. Almost every day someone asks how to be able to sleep with tinnitus.
And I have to say for the first 5 years of my tinnitus it was a real problem for me. I felt sleep deprived like all the time. The more sleep deprived I felt the more I noticed my tinnitus as I was grumpy already, my level of psychological resilience dropped to its lowest point possible which made me even more vulnerable. Consequently I cried a lot and was desperate. Desperate to find back to a good night sleep and to get some rest, to feel stronger again.
I thought I had to go to sleep at a certain hour and sleep all night long to wake up well rested, to be able to handle the day and to function normally. I was sure that it had to be at least a full 8 hours of deep sleep.
Researching the matter I found out that I was all wrong about that and everything I always thought to be true about sleep. It is a total myth that you have to sleep a certain amount of hours every night to function.
Plus focusing on wanting to sleep made my nights a nightmare. The fact, that the tinnitus kept me awake made me crazy but it made me even crazier because all I could think about was how many minutes went by and me missing sleep because of it. Of course I went on to imagine what kind of consequences that would have for me the next day. That I would wake up not feeling rested and that I wouldn´t be able to work properly as I wasn´t rested enough.
So I became tenser and tenser by the minute, which made it harder and harder to fall asleep. And all my focus went to my tinnitus – making it seem louder and louder. Also there are no background noises at night, which make it appear louder already. It is a vicious cycle I couldn´t break free of.
To feel better about your sleeping problem, let´s first free yourself from some sleeping myths that fire up that cycle each night. Once I freed myself from the thought that it had to go this one way . . . and opening up to my own individual sleeping pattern made it easier for me.
So let´s bust those sleeping myths!
Myth busted: That is not true. As we get older, we wake up more often during the night, but it doesn´t have any effect on the quality of our sleep. It is actually physiologically good for you.
It is not as much about the hours, but about the quality of sleep.
Myth busted: There are different phases we go through at night. A sleeping cycle lasts about 90 minutes and during one cycle we go through different stages. In that cycle we go through deep and light sleeping phases.
If you want to know more about those cycles – then read this interesting article here: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem
Myth busted: Like we saw before, sleep isn’t just sleep. We undergo different phases and only a small portion of our sleep actually happens in deep sleep phases. Only about a fourth of our sleep is actually deep.
Myth busted: As always, our bodies know what we have to do or what we need. Missed sleep is made up by our body itself as it changes the quality of our sleep and not by sleeping more hours the next day.
Myth busted: Not exactly, as long as we get as least some sleep on a regular basis it is ok. Often we sleep more than we think. Even if we wake up a lot at night, we sleep some time inbetween those hours and minutes we are awake. Of course if it goes over a long period of time…it can affect our health.
Myth busted: The hours we sleep at night are not the only thing that determine our performance the next day. Also, if you didn´t sleep well the night before, it is important to be active throughout the day to be tired at night. Like with kids, you want to tire them out – so that they are exhausted and want to sleep at night.
Myth busted: It is actually individual and also depends on the age of a person.
Read more about sleeping times in this interesting article: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0
After busting those myths for myself I felt relieved already – I felt like I had be freed and didn´t get so desperate to fall asleep.
I always wanted to force myself to fall asleep, but if you have ever tried that – you know that doesn´t work. What you can do, is create conditions and an atmosphere to be able to fall asleep easily.
The most important thing is to not fight it. To accept the sleeping situation as it is and to make it easy to fall asleep.
- Exercise regularily
- Develop a routine
- Healthy eating habits
- Set up a good sleeping environment
- Not being in bed as much
- Stop thinking so much at night
I wrote an article about how I found my good night sleep back – there I talk about how to create the perfect setting for a good night sleep. Dive into it here: https://thetinnituslife.com/2017/11/09/how-i-got-my-good-night-sleep-back-despite-my-tinnitus/