How I got my good night sleep back – despite my tinnitus
Tinnitus Sleeping Tips
Tinnitus usullay brings insomia with it. And oh man, have I struggled with my sleep. Or should I say with my absent sleep?!
I had nights in which I barely slept at all. Course if that happens the tinnitus is even worse. Nights are generally hard. There are just not a lof destracting noises. In addition I was so stressed and tired due to not being able to sleep….and of course in the absolutly worst mood ever.
Not to forget that nights used to drive me crazy. Watching a movie, walking around, reading something, listening to music, trying to close my eyes or count sheeps and so on…the feeling of being exhausted but not being able to sleep is just so despairing.
I have to add that in my worst tinnitus times I was sick a lot, I had very frequently sinusitis and almost all the time a super strong headache. So I was in bed like all the time. Just always feeling depressed and without power to confront life outside my bed.
How that changed?
My tinnitus still is the same, but I changed my life step by step.
Nothing happend over night. A lot of times I started something, then got lazy again, didn´t feel a change right away and didn´t believe in it anymore or I had some complete fall backs, when I would lay in bed all day again. But I never gave up completly or at least I always found my way back again.
I usually „exercised“ a little at home or went running when I felt like it, it was ok but no real exercise. Six month ago I joined a gym and it totally chaged my workout routine, it made me want to work out more and stick to my routine. Of course I am not motivated every day, but even when I´m not I go as part of my daily routine and afterwards I am always so glad I did!
It doesn´t have to be a big workout and you don’t have to lift weights. Moving the body is important.
Find a sport you like, not everything is for everybody. I tried aerobic once, thinking it would be a great way to work out and stay motivated with a group. After going five times I quit, I had triped over the stepper so many times, bumped into other people and it seemed like I was always going the wrong way. It was just not for me.
So try out different things or classes to find what suites you. Exercise is not a punishment, nor should it be something you feel obligated to do. It should become something you look forward to and something that makes you feel better.
How does it help with sleep?
Firstly my body gets tired differently since then, if I exercise in the afternoon or evening I could go straight to bed. Secondly exercising regularily decreases tension, elevates and stabilizes the mood. Those factors help to fall asleep easier and to have a better sleep.
The sleepfoundation.org says: „Of the handful of studies that have been performed, they suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia.“
Develop a routine
Since I have tinnitus and got sleeping problems my sister has always said that I need to establish a routine. She used to tell me that the body needs a routine it can relay on to feel stressfree and to function well.
I never believed her. She said to eat around the same time, to go to bed around the same time and to go to the bathroom around the same time and so on and so on.
She says, she is a pharmaceutical technician so she should know, when you establish a routine it is like with kids (as I am a social worker I think she wanted to apply to my pedagogical side) after a while they do those things automatically. The same way it works with the body, it then gets hungry everyday at the same time, needs to go to the bathroom at the same time and gets tired at the same time.
I started doing that, and yes….at the beginning I went to bed but didn´t think I could sleep. And I always thought I would not be able to eat after waking up, but now I can´t get up fast enough to have my breakfast.
Now I get tired around the same time everyday, no matter at what time I got up. If I get off my routine for too long it doesn´t work anymore though.
It is just a matter of training the body. Once the body gets a hang of it, it works like clockwise. You don´t need to do much to it anymore and it seems like it is something our bodies are looking for and feel more comfortable with that than doing everyday something different.
When we have a routine, we have something to rely on and when our mind has something to rely on we feel save! Feeling save is so important, it reduces the feeling of being stressed or overwhelmed, because we know what is coming next and we don´t have to think about what to do next.
Healthy eating habits
Many foods I ate affected my health and my stomach, I felt bloated all the time or like I had eaten stones….that made it harder to fall asleep as well.
All my adult life I thought that I was eating really healthy, I considered myself a health nut. So I was sure in that department I wouldn´t need to imporve anything, until I looked closer.
You won´t believe it, but I fried almost everything. I mean, I ate a lot of vegetables but almost all of them were fried. I just always felt like without oil there was a flavor missing. But fried foods are super fatty and usually not fried in good oils.
So lately I tried to eat steamed vegetables, at first I didn´t really care for it but now I started sprinking olive oil on it and it is just really good.
Also I just love, love, love sweets. But eating a lot of pastry just rushes up the blood sugar level and causes it to decrease really quickly after a short time. These up and downs really mess with our insulin level to balance the blood sugar level. So now I try to eat less sweets or to replace it with good sweets. Only dark chocolate or even better sweet fruits. The sugar fruits provide us with is not the same as refined sugar and it is so much better for our bodys. So now if I have an urge to have something sweet, which might be a habbit or even a sugar addiction but in reality it is a way of your body to tell you that it needs more glucose. I try to have dates or grapes or what ever fruit helps me to overcome my cravings and to provide my body with glucose.
In addition I try to cut out gluten, because it made my stomach feel super heavy. Looking at sensitivities or food allergies might bring a change to your gut health.
I had the same problem with rich food at night, now I try to eat light at dinner time and it really makes a difference. So for dinner I try to have salads, fruit or just a very limited amount of carbs.
That way I get full, but not that full that I feel like I had stones for dinner. Trying to eat light at night really helps me to sleep better as my stomach doesn´t feel as heavy anymore.
Read more about my new eating habits here: https://thetinnituslife.com/category/soul-food/
A good sleeping environment
To have a good sleep for the whole night our sleeping environment is crucial.
For me it is really important that it is as dark as possilble, that the bed is comfortable and that there is water close to my bed, so when I wake up thirsty at night I don´t have to get up. AND that I don´t get cold or too warm. I sometimes sleep with socks on, others say that isn´t good but it makes me feel better.
Oh yes and of course I usually have something on.
Many people listen to a white noise machine or other types of noise machines, there are also different sounds you can listen to on youtube or download them as an app.
I tried it, but that isn´t really for me, music doesn´t really work either…then I don´t want to sleep, I just want to move and listen to my tunes. I usually put on a tv-show or a movie….just to have some background noise. Some might say, that it isn´t good for your REM sleep and it does happen occationally that I think about the movie the next day a lot and I think my mind is processing all that info getting in late at night, so I do try to not watch too horrible things. I usually watch something light, like comedies.
Lately I don´t even need something on, I just lay down and close my eyes and think about the day or I try to think about a bright future. After a short time I fall asleep and sleep like a baby. I only wake up if I forgot to turn off the light or if I´m cold.
So to be able to find a good night´s sleep it is important to find out what is important for you to sleep well.
Do you need it dark? Do you need the window to be open? Do you need a noise to destract yourself from the sound? Do you need the room to be warm or cold?
Try it out and then apply your results, you´ll see that your sleep will improve!
Not being in bed as much
The body has to be tired, feel ready to go to bed…at least mine does. So when I am in bed all day, because I am depressed and feel just horrible…at the end of the day I can´t really sleep because I have been sleeping on and off the whole day or because my body is rested already, my mind too because I haven´t really been doing anything.
So even if I´m having one of those days and I have the urge to just stay in bed, I force myself to at least do some walking or something else so that my body gets a little tired.
And it might just happen when I am up that I start to feel better and that I don´t even want to go to bed.
Sometimes when I absolutely feel like I can´t get up, I just go to the store to buy something to eat. Usually there is always something you can buy. And you get your body moving, some fresh air as well as the chance to see that it might be a nice day or to find out that the day isn´t as bad as you thought.
Once I bring myself to get up and do something I feel better already. Taking a shower might already help, once you feel all fresh after showering you are ready to do something else.
Just try it out and at night you will be ready to sleep.
Stop thinking too much at night
Sometime my head is spinning because I am thinking and thinking and rethinking everything. My mind just won´t stop…and I get caught in a vicious cycle.
There are a few things which helped me with that, for one yoga helps me to see life a little differently and to not identify myself with every thought I have, the same goes for meditation and it also helps me to calm myself down. Journaling is another benefit, to just get my thoughts out. After journaling all those thought keeping me from my sleep are in my diary and no longer bother me.
I have two ways to write a journal. One is to just get my thoughts out, I write down what ever comes to my mind. That way the same thought don´t bother me over and over again.
The other method is a structured journal writing: I write down how I felt throughout the day with my tinnitus, I write down good things that have happened, what food I ate, which sports I did or what I meditated on as well as how it made me feel. I also write down one affirmation to change my view of my life. For example: I know that old negative patterns no longer limit me, I let them go with ease. This one is by Louise Hay.
Find your own way!
I have read many tips and recommendation on how to sleep better and on how to get over insomnia. In the end what really helps, is what you need. Find out what feels good for you. Only you know what you can do to sleep better. This is how I,| after years being sleep deprived, sleep pretty well most of the time!