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Sleeping With Tinnitus
One of the biggest challenges that I hear from Tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) patients is their inability to get a good night's sleep. I used to have this problem as well, so I am very familiar with how frustrating that is. Imagine what it might be like to sleep on a busy airport runway with jets taking off all around you. That's what it's like for me. For many people who suffer from this debilitating disease, they can be kept awake by constant hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling and even clicking sounds that interfere with their regular sleep patterns.
Unfortunately, the less sleep you get, the more your tinnitus will bother you. Why this is I'm not sure, except to know that if you're tired it's much harder to keep motivated and do the things you need to do to keep your mind off tinnitus. I do know, however, that it's very important to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night in order to avoid what often feels like an increase in the tinnitus volume.
So, how do you get a good night's sleep? That's really a 2 part question because first you have to get to sleep and then you have to stay asleep. I can't tell you the number of times that tinnitus would actually wake me up in the middle of the night. Once awake, itís virtually impossible to get back to sleep. Many patients admit that their tinnitus is much worse after awaking from sleep and I definitely agree with this based on my own experience.
First, let's talk about how to get to sleep. After experimenting for several years I came up with a formula that works for me and I truly believe it can work for you too. And, like David Letterman I call it; the top ten ways for tinnitus patients to fall asleep. But this is no joke!
Number Ten: Make sure you're physically tired. This seems like such a simple thing but it can really help to be just absolutely fatigued when you hit the pillow.
Number Nine: Don't watch TV before going to bed. It fills your mind with useless nonsense and more often than not, your mind will race with useless information as a result of the subject matter.
Number Eight: Don't exercise right before bed. This will raise your adrenalin and give you energy. Energy is the last thing you want when trying to sleep.
Number Seven: Don't eat after 8:00 pm. Avoid volume raising Tinnitus foods like caffeine, salt, alcohol, etc.
Number Six: If you can, meditate before bed. It will help to relax you and rid your body of any stress it is carrying. Breathe Deeply. Most of us go through our lives taking short breaths. A deep breath is grounding.
Number Five: Learn to relax in bed as if it were a rewarding experience. Relax each part of your body as you focus on relaxing it. Start with the top of your head and work your mind down to the tip of your toes. Very often I would only get to my knees and I'd be asleep.
Number Four: Try not to habituate yourself to loud noise when you are falling asleep. Avoid leaving the TV and/or radio on. If you can, open the window and listen to nature. If you must listen to something, make it a natural environmentally friendly sound, so when it's not there, you won't miss it.
Number Three: Make sure the room is dark so your brain tells your body its time to rest.
Number Two: Don't Think! I know that seems like an odd concept but the fact is, thinking is what keeps your mind active and that keeps you awake.
And, the Number One way to fall asleep is: If all else fails, make love!
When you make love, you are not thinking about your tinnitus and at the same time you are setting up your body to accept sleep. The magic in that is that you are NOT thinking! The mind is trained to think. Do you realize how little time you spend in your day not thinking? The trouble is that most people have never learned to not think. I saw an ad on television once for a large newspaper chain and their slogan was; Never Stop Thinking. This is utter nonsense. You need time away from thinking - especially if your thoughts are negative or stressful.
So, how do you stop thinking? If you're familiar with meditation then you likely have a good idea how this works. It's a simple concept but believe me it takes practice. The more you practice it the better you'll get at it. I use this technique to cat nap during the day and it works every single time. And, here it is: Relax and let your mind wander. When your mind falls on a thought, don't follow it. Don't focus on that thought. Say to yourself, oh I just landed on a thought let my mind go back to wandering. Don't fight it, just allow your mind to drift onto other thoughts. It's when your mind lands on a thought and follows that thought through a series of mental movies that causes stress and ultimately keeps you awake. Like I said, it takes practice, but it can be done.
Now, how do you stay asleep? That's an easy one. If you're tired when you go to bed you have a high probability that you will stay asleep. If you happen to wake up because of a dream or a loud noise, simply go through the ten steps all over again. Have a good night's sleep!
About the Author: Thousands of Tinnitus patients have downloaded Paul Tobey's "Six Top Ways to Reduce the Ringing" free eReport. He is also author of "A Practical Guide to Tinnitus Free Living."