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Dr. Nagler

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Hints for Sleep
Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.

Difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep are among the most frequent complaints voiced by tinnitus sufferers. Below are some guidelines that have been successful in making the silence of the night a bit less of a challenge.

  1. Use your bedroom only at night.
  2. Do not use your bedroom for daytime naps. Try not to nap during the day - but if you must, use another room.
  3. Do not use your bedroom for reading or for watching TV - even at night before sleep.
  4. Do not use your bedroom for work or for hobbies.
  5. Regardless of what time you go to bed, get out of bed and start your day at the same time each morning - weekday and weekend. (Very important!)
  6. Keep the atmosphere in your bedroom as pleasant and peaceful as possible. Make it a special place. Never argue there. Surround yourself with objects of comfort and reassurance - heirlooms, photographs, etc. -  but avoid too much clutter.
  7. If you have not fallen asleep within 20-30 minutes after going to bed at night, do not lie there and keep trying! Sleep happens by allowing it to happen; it does not happen by trying to make it happen. So if you have not fallen asleep within 20-30 minutes, then leave your bedroom and watch TV, read a book, work on a project, drink some warm milk or caffeine-free tea, etc. And then - when you are more tired - go back to bed. If you find that you are still not asleep within 20-30 minutes, leave the bedroom again. The same principle applies if you wake up at night and are unable to return to sleep within 20-30 minutes. But no matter what happens, do not under any circumstances forget Rule #5 above.
  8. Above all, AVOID TOTAL SILENCE. Get the "Simply Rain" app or something similar for your smartphone, and purchase a Bluetooth speaker for your bedside table. (It is generally better not to use earbuds or a headset at night.) If you prefer, purchase an inexpensive tabletop sleep machine like the HoMedics Sound Spa, and play it at a low volume all night long. Either way, do not purposely try to mask your tinnitus with the sound; just play it softly to cut through the silence of the night. In silence your auditory system will do what it is intended to do: It will try to detect external sounds. But if there are no external sounds for your auditory system to readily access, it will just "turn up the gain" and in so doing make your internal sounds - your tinnitus - sound louder. So at night give your auditory system the soft external sounds it seeks, thereby taking the edge off your tinnitus. [If you happen to mask your tinnitus with the sound, that is fine. However, if you purposely try to mask your tinnitus, you might discover that you are "chasing" it, which can be frustrating and counterproductive.] 
  9. Pleasant dreams!
Please note: These guidelines are not a prescription for overnight success; they are designed to effect a gradual conscious and subconscious change in attitude towards your bedroom and sleep over a period of several weeks.

Dr. Stephen Nagler
Atlanta Tinnitus Consultants, LLC

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Dr. Nagler's Tinnitus Corner is provided for education and information only. It is not intended for the purpose of providing medical care and should in no way substitute for appropriate in-person consultations with qualified healthcare professionals. By using this site, participants agree to hold Dr. Nagler and Atlanta Tinnitus Consultants, LLC harmless with respect to any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage arising from following the postings herein.