The uptick in hearing loss has now become a public health concern and rated as one of the top three in the nation aside from cancer and diabetes. Close to 40 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing impairment. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) has been experienced by over 20 million people in the US in the past year.
Hearing loss has a complicated relationship with many other sensory functions and needs for a healthy body and mind. For example, we know that hearing loss negatively impacts our sense of balance and our cognitive abilities. We now also know that sleep is another important biological function that is also affected by hearing loss.
Sleep & Hearing Loss
Insomnia and poor-quality sleep are not the same, but hearing loss has been shown to be connected to both. A night of healthy sleep has a spectrum of phases to it and one of them is known as Delta in the non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. In this part of our sleep cycle, the body acknowledges that it is actually in sleep mode, getting what it needs and believed to be instrumental in mood regulation and memory formation. Without experiencing Delta sleep we feel like we haven’t slept at all. Poor sleep quality results in many of the same effects as insomnia.
A study of sleep patterns among a group of deaf people revealed a lack of Delta sleep that is necessary for the body to reset itself and feel rested. It showed that in comparison to a control group of normal-hearing people, they often had interrupted sleep by frequently waking up and experiencing less Delta non-REM sleep though the length of time of sleep was for both groups were the same.
In another comparative study, published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 45 pre-lingually deaf people displayed symptoms showing a correlation between their hearing condition, insomnia, and depression. About two-thirds were shown to suffer from insomnia as opposed to normal hearing people.
Tinnitus is a condition that often manifests as a ringing in the ears but can actually range from a buzz to a hiss to a roar. It is a condition that can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, infection or even hormonal imbalances. One of the effects of tinnitus is a poor quality of sleep which exacerbates an already unhealthy condition for sufferers. Treatment usually includes sound therapy such as the use of “white sound”.
A majority of sufferers are war veterans due to their prolonged exposure to harmful noise.
Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (OHL) is another source of affliction that many workers in the US have to battle. Tinnitus was a major symptom as was insomnia but higher rates of poor-quality sleep occurred overall regardless of age and exposure.
Up to 30 million Americans suffer from work-related hearing impairment and it is touted as the most common complaint of illness due to job hazards. Noise and vibration levels, exposure times and chemicals in the workplace can result in OHL resulting in dizziness, imbalance, and tinnitus. The effects on sleep can range from poor quality to insomnia and attributes to greater fatigue to those inflicted. With OHL, as with many hearing loss conditions, prevention and early detection is of utmost importance.
Can hearing aids help?
The following is a Study Sample published in 2017 by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: “The sample consisted of 100 patients, 50 with hearing loss and tinnitus, and 50 controls with hearing loss but no tinnitus.” The study concluded that the use of hearing aids helped the participants and considered it a rehabilitative measure.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.” But what are some of the things we can do on a daily basis so that our hearing health and our sleep cycles work to our benefit and longevity?
Safe hearing practices are important to preventing hearing loss. Be aware of prolonged exposure to high decibel sounds. For example, when you are using your earbuds to listen to music or watch a movie. Stick to the 60/60 rule of volume at 60 percent for 60 minutes.
For unexpected noisy environments carrying and using earplugs are preventative and cost-effective. Be vigilant at work and at home so that you can take the necessary precautions to keep your surroundings at a healthy sound level. Last but not least, have your hearing checked immediately if you have any questions or doubts about your auditory health.
Atlanta Hearing Doctor
Atlanta Hearing Doctor encourages you or someone close to you to give us a call for any further information you might need. Your sustained hearing health is our goal. Having a comprehensive assessment and a proper diagnosis will set you on the path to overall wellbeing and better hearing experiences.