You’re lying down in bed trying to sleep when you first notice the sound: Your ear has a whooshing or throbbing in it. The sound is pulsing in rhythm with your heartbeat. And regardless of how hard you try, you can’t tune it out. You have a lot to do tomorrow and you really need your sleep so this is not good. Not only are you not feeling tired, you feel anxious.
Does this seem familiar? Anxiety, tinnitus, and sleep, as it turns out, are closely linked. A vicious cycle that deprives you of your sleep and affects your health can be the outcome.
Can anxiety cause tinnitus?
Tinnitus is generally referred to as a ringing in the ears. But it’s not that simple. First of all, the actual noise you hear can take a large number of forms, from pulsing to throbbing to buzzing and so on. But the sound you’re hearing isn’t an actual outside sound. For many people, tinnitus can manifest when you’re feeling stressed out, which means that stress-related tinnitus is absolutely a thing.
An anxiety disorder is an affliction where feelings of dread, worry, or (as the name suggests) anxiety are hard to control and severe enough to interfere with your daily life. This can materialize in many ways physically, including as tinnitus. So can anxiety cause tinnitus? Absolutely!
Why is this tinnitus-anxiety combo bad?
This combination of anxiety and tinnitus is bad news for a couple of the following reasons:
- Usually, nighttime is when most people really notice their tinnitus symptoms. Can ringing in the ears be triggered by anxiety? Sure, but it’s also feasible that the ringing’s been there all day and your normal activities were simply loud enough to cover up the sound. This can make it harder to get to sleep. And more anxiety can come from not sleeping.
- You may be having a more severe anxiety attack if you begin to spike tinnitus symptoms. Once you’ve acknowledged the connection between anxiety and tinnitus, any time you detect tinnitus symptoms your anxiety could increase.
There are instances where tinnitus can manifest in one ear and at some point move to both. There are some instances where tinnitus is continuous day and night. In other situations, it may pulsate for a few moments and then go away. Whether constant or intermittent, this combo of anxiety and tinnitus can have health consequences.
How is your sleep affected by tinnitus and anxiety?
Your sleep loss could absolutely be the result of anxiety and tinnitus. Some examples of how are as follows:
- Most people like it to be quiet when they sleep. You turn everything off because it’s bedtime. But when everything else is quiet, your tinnitus can become much more noticeable.
- The sound of your tinnitus can stress you out and hard to overlook. In the silence of the night, your tinnitus can be so unrelenting that you lie awake until morning. As your anxiety about not sleeping increases, the sound of the tinnitus symptoms can grow louder and even more difficult to ignore.
- The longer you go without sleeping, the easier it is for you to become stressed. As your stress level increases your tinnitus gets worse.
When your anxiety is contributing to your tinnitus, you may hear that whooshing sound and fear that an anxiety attack is near. This can, obviously, make it very difficult to sleep. But lack of sleep causes all kinds of issues.
How lack of sleep impacts your health
The effect insomnia has on your health will continue to become more significant as this vicious cycle carries on. And this can really have a detrimental impact on your wellness. Some of the most prevalent effects include the following:
- Higher risk of cardiovascular disease: Over time, lack of sleep can begin to impact your long-term health and wellness. Increased danger of a stroke or heart disease can be the consequence.
- Inferior work results: Obviously, your job performance will suffer if you can’t get a sound night’s sleep. You won’t be as eager or be able to think clearly and quickly.
- Slower reaction times: When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your reaction times are more sluggish. Driving and other daily tasks will then be more hazardous. And it’s especially dangerous if you run heavy machinery, for instance.
- Elevated stress and worry: The anxiety symptoms already present will get worse if you’re not sleeping. A vicious cycle of mental health related symptoms can result.
Other causes of anxiety
Of course, there are other sources of anxiety besides tinnitus. And recognizing these causes is essential (largely because they will help you avoid anxiety triggers, which as an added bonus will help you decrease your tinnitus symptoms). Here are some of the most common causes of anxiety:
- Stress response: When something causes us extreme stress, our bodies will naturally go into an anxious mode. That’s great if you’re being chased by a tiger. But when you’re working on a project at work, that’s not so great. oftentimes, the relationship between the two isn’t obvious. You could have an anxiety attack today from something that caused a stress response a week ago. You may even have an anxiety attack in response to a stressor from last year, for example.
- Medical conditions: You might, in some situations, have an increased anxiety response because of a medical condition.
- Hyperstimulation: An anxiety reaction can happen when somebody gets overstimulated with too much of any one thing. For example, being around crowds can sometimes trigger an anxiety response for some.
Other causes: Some of the following, less common factors could also trigger anxiety:
- Poor nutrition
- Some recreational drugs
- Stimulant usage (that includes caffeine)
- Fatigue and sleep deprivation (see the vicious cycle once again)
This isn’t an all-inclusive list. And you should seek advice from your provider if you believe you have an anxiety disorder.
How to deal with your anxiety-related tinnitus?
In terms of anxiety-induced tinnitus, there are two general choices at hand. You can either try to address the anxiety or treat the tinnitus. Here’s how that may work in either circumstance:
Generally speaking, anxiety disorders are managed in one of two ways:
- Medication: In some cases, medication could help you cope with your symptoms or make your symptoms less obvious.
- Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapeutic approach will help you identify thought patterns that can unintentionally worsen your anxiety symptoms. Patients are able to better prevent anxiety attacks by interrupting those thought patterns.
Tinnitus can be treated in a variety of different ways, especially if it presents while you’re sleeping. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Masking device: This is basically a white noise machine that you wear near your ear. This can help reduce how much you notice your tinnitus.
- White noise machine: When you’re attempting to sleep, use a white noise machine. Your tinnitus symptoms may be able to be masked by this strategy.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): If someone with tinnitus can recognize and accept their tinnitus symptoms they can decrease the disruptive effect it has. CBT is a method that helps them do that by helping them produce new thought patterns.
You may get better sleep by addressing your tinnitus
As long as that humming or whooshing is keeping you awake at night, you’ll be at risk of falling into one of these vicious cycles, fueled by anxiety and tinnitus. Managing your tinnitus first is one possible solution. To do that, you should contact us.