Sleepless nights are no fun. Especially when they are recurring. You toss and turn and maybe stare at the clock (or your phone) and worry about just how tired you’ll be the next day. When these kinds of sleepless nights persistently occur, medical professionals tend to use the label “insomnia”. With insomnia, the drawbacks of not sleeping will then begin to compound and over time and can have a negative impact on your overall health.
And, maybe not surprisingly, “your overall health” includes your hearing health. That’s right, insomnia can have an impact on your ability to hear. This isn’t necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship–but that doesn’t mean there’s no connection between hearing loss and insomnia.
Can lack of sleep affect your hearing?
What could the connection between hearing loss and sleep be? There’s a significant amount of research that indicates insomnia, over a long enough period, can impact your cardiovascular system. Without the nightly restorative power of sleep, it’s harder for your blood to get everywhere it needs to be.
Insomnia also means an increase in stress and anxiety. Being stressed and anxious are not only mental states–they’re physiological states, too.
So how is that related to hearing loss? Your ears work because they’re filled with delicate little hairs called stereocilia. These delicate hairs vibrate when sound happens and the information gets transmitted to your brain, which then translates those vibrations into sounds.
When your circulatory system is not functioning properly, these hairs have a hard time thriving. In some cases, poor circulation can damage these hairs–permanently. And once that happens, your hearing will be irrevocably damaged. This can result in permanent hearing loss–especially the longer it continues.
Is the reverse true?
If insomnia can impact your hearing health, can hearing loss stop you from getting a good night’s sleep? It’s definitely possible. Hearing loss can make the world very quiet–and some people like a little bit of noise when they try to sleep. This means that the quiet of hearing loss can sometimes prevent normal sleeping. Any kind of hearing loss anxiety (for example, if you’re worried about losing your hearing) can have a similar effect.
So how do you get a good night’s sleep with hearing loss? Wearing your hearing aids during the day can help reduce stress on your brain at night (when you aren’t wearing them). Following other sleep-health tips can also help.
How to get a good night’s sleep
- Avoid screens at least 60 minutes before bed: (Really, the longer the better.) Screens have a tendency to activate your brain. It’s like turning on a light in the middle of the night.
- Avoid drinking 2 hours before bed: Having to get up to pee can start the “wake up” process in your brain. So, sleeping through the night is better.
- Keep your bedroom for sleeping (mostly): Try to limit the amount of things you use your bedroom for. For example, don’t work in your bedroom. Try to keep it to sleep and other intimate activities only.
- Stop drinking caffeine afternoon: Even decaf coffee has enough caffeine in it to keep you awake at night if you drink it late enough. (This includes soda as well.) Most providers recommend against drinking caffeine after 12:00 pm (noon).
- Try to de-stress as much as possible: It may not be possible to remove every stressor from your life, but giving yourself time to de-stress is critical. Do something relaxing before bed.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you fall asleep: This will simply disrupt your existing sleep cycle.
- Exercise regularly: Your body needs to move! And if you aren’t moving, you may end up going to bed with a bit of excess energy. Being a little active every day can help.
Take care of your hearing health
Even if you have experienced some insomnia related symptoms in the past–and have some hearing loss, your symptoms can still be managed. Your hearing specialist will be able to recommend treatment options, including hearing aids, that can help ensure you are able to continue communicating with loved ones and staying in touch with friends.
If you’re worried about your hearing, talk to a hearing specialist today.