Sleep is precious. If you don’t get a complete, restful seven to eight hours of sleep, you wake up groggy and cranky, an unpleasant feeling that only three cups of coffee can keep at bay. So when your hearing loss began causing insomnia, you were aghast.
Justifiably so. The good news is, there’s a little something that can be of assistance: a hearing aid. It’s possible that these small devices can help you get a better night sleep, according to recent surveys.
How is Sleep Affected by Loss of Hearing?
Recently, you’ve noticed yourself counting sheep more than usual, dealing with fatigue all day no matter how much sleep you get, and then having a difficult time falling asleep at night (even though you’re exhausted). All of these issues began about the same time you also began to notice that your radio, television, and mobile phone were becoming hard to hear.
Turns out, you’re not imagining things. There is a well-documented relationship between hearing loss and insomnia, even if the exact sources aren’t completely clear. There are, of course, a couple of theories:
- Hearing loss is connected to depression, and your sleep cycle can be disturbed by chemical imbalances as a result of depression. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Tinnitus can cause you to hear thumping, humming, and ringing and that noise can keep you awake at night. (Lack of sleep can also cause your tinnitus to get worse, which then can cause stronger insomnia, it’s a vicious cycle).
- Your brain, when you have hearing loss, strains to get stimulus that isn’t there. Your entire cycle could be thrown off if your brain is working overtime trying to hear (it’s that “my brain won’t shut off” problem).
Can Hearing Aids Improve Your Sleep?
According to one study, 44% of individuals with loss of hearing who don’t wear hearing aids documented being satisfied with their sleep in comparison to 59% sleep satisfaction from those who did wear a hearing aid. So are hearing aids a sleep aid or what?
Not exactly. If you don’t have hearing loss, a hearing aid can’t cure insomnia.
But if you have hearing loss related insomnia, hearing aids may help in several important ways:
- Strain: The damage on your brain will essentially reduced by wearing hearing aids. And when your brain isn’t constantly straining to hear everything around you, it won’t be as likely to keep straining while you’re trying to sleep.
- Isolation: If you’re out on the town, hooking up with the people in your social sphere, you’re less likely to feel depressed and isolated. Relationships become less difficult with hearing aids (this can also decrease “cabin fever”-associated sleep cycle troubles).
- Tinnitus: Depending on the nature and cause of your tinnitus, hearing aids may provide a practical means of treating that buzzing and ringing. This can help short circuit that vicious cycle and help you get to sleep.
Getting Better Night Sleep Using Hearing Aids
It isn’t just the number of hours that’s important here. In order for your sleep to be truly rejuvenating, you need to reach a certain level to your z’s. Hearing aids can enhance your ability to get a restful nights sleep because loss of hearing without hearing aids can prevent deep sleep.
Wearing your hearing aids on the recommended daytime schedule will improve your sleep but it’s important to note that hearing aids are not generally meant to be used at night. They aren’t going to help you hear better when you’re in bed (for instance, you won’t hear your alarm clock more clearly). And, as time passes, using your hearing aids at night can lessen their efficiency. It’s using them during the day that helps you get deeper sleep.
Go to Bed!
Getting a restful night’s sleep is a valuable thing. Your stress level, your immune system, and your ability to think clearly will all be enhanced by sufficient sleep. Proper sleep habits have even been connected to lower risks for diabetes and heart disease.
When your hearing loss begins to disrupt your sleep schedule, it’s not only a small irritation, insomnia can often lead to serious health problems. Fortunately, people report having better quality sleep when they use hearing aids.