Good sleep is a crucial part of our well being, and the effects of sleep loss are wide-ranging. But because of its complexity, sleep can be impacted by many factors. Hearing loss can both be one of those factors. Though research on the subject is still ongoing, studies show a complicated correlation between hearing loss and sleep hygiene.
Hearing Loss and Insomnia
Insomnia is common among people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Studies have shown that two-thirds of deaf respondents reported insomnia, and prevalence is also high among people with occupational hearing loss, sudden hearing loss (SSNHL), and tinnitus. Psychological distress might be one reason for these numbers. Sleep dysfunction and depression go hand in hand; one can be a cause or a symptom of the other. Since rates of depression are higher for both people who are congenitally deaf and people who have acquired hearing loss, mood disorders might be one of the causes of sleep problems in the community.
One study provides insight into how sleep patterns in deaf people might lead to lower-quality sleep. When compared to a control group, the deaf subjects were found to wake up more often throughout the night, despite sleeping for the same length of time overall. And though they spent as much time in REM sleep as the controls, they spent less time in delta sleep. Delta sleep is stage 3 of non-REM sleep and is also known as slow wave or deep sleep. It is the stage, which resets the body’s feeling of needing to sleep, so people without enough delta sleep often report feeling exhausted and as though they barely slept at all. Delta sleep is also thought to play a role in memory formation and mood regulation.
People with tinnitus “hear” noise, which is not caused by an external source and is sometimes described as a ringing in the ears. The rate of sleep problems among tinnitus sufferers is estimated to be as high as 77%. Though this is probably due to the noise making it difficult to sleep, it’s possible the underlying causes of one might affect the other.
Hearing Aids and Sleep
In addition to helping people hear better, hearing aids might also reduce hearing-loss related sleep problems. A study of volunteers with tinnitus and hearing loss found that their sleep quality significantly improved after they started using hearing aids. While hearing aids during the day do seem to help individuals sleep at night most hearing aids are meant to be removed before sleep.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to the routines, habits, and patterns you have around sleep. Good sleep hygiene is the first step in treating any sleep problem, including hearing-loss related sleep issues.
Most adults need 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep, however, don’t stress out if you feel rested on less or more. You probably already know how much sleep you need to feel your best.
Work out when you need to go to bed.
Colder temperatures make it easier to sleep, while even small amounts of light can interfere with falling asleep. If you’re bothered by outside or indoor light, blackout curtains or a sleep mask can help.
Do not use the TV and your phone in your bedroom. Your bed should only be for sleeping and sex.
Screen time should be limited in the evening, as the blue light emitted by electronic screens can confuse your circadian rhythm.
While most people know caffeine makes it more difficult to sleep, it’s also important to avoid alcohol before bed.
Fidelity Hearing Centers
Hearing aids have been shown to make a dramatic difference in the lives of people with hearing loss. Not only do they help restore some amount of hearing, but they can also improve sleep problems and related issues. However, only 20% of adults who would be helped by hearing aids use them. If you have hearing loss and struggle with insomnia or another sleep disorder, hearing aids could be the right treatment choice. Visit us at Fidelity Hearing Centers to set up a hearing test. Worsening hearing loss often means sleep loss as well, but treating hearing problems can help ensure a good night’s sleep.