It’s no secret that tinnitus can make it hard to fall asleep.
A loud, stressful noise is the last thing most of us want to hear as we’re trying to get some rest.
Though not everyone with tinnitus has this problem. As I connect with more and more patients, I’ve been somewhat surprised to find that many people can get to sleep without a problem. And I’m not talking about people who have habituated and found relief. These are people who are struggling, who suffer from bothersome tinnitus, and yet somehow, don’t have any issue when it comes to drifting off.
In some ways, they’re the lucky ones. It’s not so easy for the rest of us, but it’s also not insurmountable.
I’ve written extensively on strategies for falling asleep with tinnitus, but today, I wanted to show you what my sleep setup looks like.
Most of the time, my tinnitus doesn’t bother me, but I’ve always struggled to fall asleep. It’s on these restless nights that my tinnitus becomes an issue.
This is how I fall asleep with tinnitus.
My Sleep Setup:
1) Bucky Eye Mask: It’s important to sleep in total darkness, especially if you’re a light sleeper like me. I have blackout curtains in my bedroom, but they don’t work as well as I’d like, so I often wear a sleep mask. I have several, but this is my current favorite. It’s light, comfortable and has a shape that makes it very easy to fall asleep with it on.
2) FUGOO Portable Bluetooth Speaker: If you still have some of your hearing, masking your tinnitus with background noise is a good strategy to help you sleep. I use my Fugoo bluetooth speaker synced to my phone. It give me basically unlimited options for sounds and is infinitely customizable. This thing is loud, waterproof, shockproof, and has 360 degree sound. At $90, it’s an insanely good deal for such a high quality speaker.
3) Tinnitus Relief Project Brainwave Entrainment Audio Program: Instead of just masking the sound of my tinnitus, I take advantage of audio that is engineered to induce sleep. The Tinnitus Relief Project is the collection of brainwave training audio I created to accompany my book, which features tracks to enhance the habituation exercises, induce a state of focus, relaxation, sleep, and so much more. Most nights, I use the “Sleep Induction with Rainy Stream Ambiance” track. (My sleep induction tracks are also available as a part of my pay-what-you-want Tinnitus Sleep Relief audio program.)
4) 3×3 Post-It Notes and Unibal Signo 207 Pen: Every night, before I get in bed, the last thing I do is write down a list of things I want to remember in the morning, and stick it to the back of my smartphone. Anything I’m thinking about, I write it down. I try to get everything out of my mind onto that post-it note, and in the morning when I grab my phone, it’s all right there, safely preserved on paper.
5) Macks Snore Blocker Earplugs: This may seem somewhat contradictory because earplugs make tinnitus louder and also because I use sound masking to fall asleep, but it’s not. I like wearing earplugs because I’m a very light sleeper. Between the earplugs, and the sound masking audio that I set loud enough to hear through the earplugs, no other sounds can get through that might otherwise have woken me up. With this set up, I can even sleep through my wife’s alarm going off at 5am.
6) Diphenhydramine (Benedryl) 25mg: I don’t take this every night, or even most nights. But when I just can’t fall asleep, 12.5-25mg of Diphenhydramine usually does the trick (it’s a sedating, over-the-counter antihistamine). Though I’m very careful. I used to rely on medication to fall asleep and I know how easy it is to fall back into that trap.
7) Orange Night Light Bulbs: The bright blue light spectrum emitted by our various screens, devices, and lightbulbs, mimic sunlight and shuts down our brain’s production of melatonin. I don’t have any night lights in my bedroom, but in my bathroom, and throughout the rest of my house, I use night lights with these bulbs. They give off a orangeish-reddish, almost candle-like light that doesn’t wake me up and enables me to get back to bed quickly. It’s also bright enough to brush my teeth and get ready to goto sleep. I never turn on the bathroom light at night anymore.
8) Body Pillow: This one is a personal preference, but I sleep so much better with a body pillow. I’m a side sleeper, and having a body pillow between my knees makes all the difference in the world. If you sleep on your side too, it’s a game changer.
9) Magnesium Glycinate or ZMA-5: Magnesium is such an important mineral, and yet, most of us are deficient. It’s also very relaxing. I take magnesium every night before bed in one of two forms, either Magnesium Glycinate, or as Magnesium Aspartate as found in a supplement called ZMA-5 which also includes Zinc and 5-htp.
10) Kavafied Kava Supreme and Aluball Kava Maker: I’m a big fan of kava root tea. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s been used for thousands of years as a relaxing drink made from the root of the kava plant. It’s a fantastic alternative to alcohol with almost none of the negative effects. The only downside was that it was somewhat time consuming and difficult to prepare. The Aluball kava maker makes it simple. I find kava a great way to wind down at night that helps me get to sleep. To learn more about kava click here. To learn more about making kava, this post explains how to use the aluball (scroll to the bottom of the post).