Why is the Buzzing in my Ears Worse at Night?

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

Tinnitus often gets worse at night for the majority of the millions of people in the US that experience it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom sound caused by some medical condition like hearing loss, it isn’t an outside sound. Of course, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.

The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases as you attempt to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this extremely common medical problem.

What is tinnitus?

For most individuals, tinnitus isn’t a real sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but no one else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a maelstrom to you.

Tinnitus is an indication that something is wrong, not a condition on its own. Substantial hearing loss is generally at the base of this disorder. For many, tinnitus is the first indication they get that their hearing is at risk. Hearing loss is typically gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing begins. This phantom noise is a warning flag to warn you of a change in your hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest conundrums and doctors don’t have a clear comprehension of why it happens. It could be a symptom of numerous medical problems including inner ear damage. The inner ear contains many tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. These electrical messages are how the brain converts sound into something it can clearly comprehend like a car horn or a person talking.

The current theory pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will begin to compensate for information that it’s not getting because of hearing loss. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

That would clarify a few things about tinnitus. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some individuals.

Why does tinnitus get louder at night?

Unless you are significantly deaf, your ear receives some sounds during the day whether you realize it or not. It will faintly hear sounds coming from another room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to fall asleep.

Abruptly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. When confronted with total silence, it resorts to producing its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to create input where none exists.

In other words, your tinnitus may get worse at night because it’s too quiet. Creating sound might be the remedy for those who can’t sleep because of that annoying ringing in the ear.

Creating noise at night

For some people dealing with tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the noise of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.

But, there are also devices designed to help people who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines create calming sounds that you can sleep through. As an alternative, you could go with an app that plays soothing sounds from your smartphone.

What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can bring about an upsurge 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 introducing sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn 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.