Sleep is something we can never seem to get enough of. When we don’t sleep we’re tired, emotionally drained and have trouble concentrating. Besides those aforementioned side-effects from lack of sleep, our hearing can also suffer.
What is the relationship between better sleep and hearing?
When we lose sleep, especially more than two nights worth, our blood vessels have trouble functioning as they should. Our blood vessels help with circulation and when our circulation is poor, blood flow slows down, leading to the ears receiving less nutrients. This lack of nutrients can cause deterioration of the auditory hair cells that help us hear. Furthermore, sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea have been known to lead to sensorineural hearing loss, a form of permanent hearing loss categorized by damage to the inner ear and nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain. Additionally, sleep apnea increases plaque buildup in blood vessels and contribute to the atrophy of areas of the brain and vessels that are responsible for hearing.
How to sleep well and protect your hearing
To preserve your sleep, a quiet bedroom is key. Managing noise pollution plays an important role in ensuring your bedroom is a peaceful, ideal environment conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. Here’s how you can turn your bedroom into a palace where slumber goes undisturbed:
- Turn off the TV before bed because falling asleep with the television can wake you up during the night and make you feel groggy in the morning. Instead, get a white noise machine if you need sound in the background.
- Wear a sleep mask to ensure maximum darkness so that you block out any light that could be coming in through a break in the curtains or a partner’s phone as they check their email before bed.
- Turn off any screens at least 45 minutes before bed. The screens from our phones, computers and tablets trick the body into thinking it’s daytime. Alternatively, use an e-reader because those screens are designed to mimic a book. If reading before bed isn’t ideal then listen to a podcast. There are many available that deal with helping you fall asleep.
- If you and your partner are on different schedules, consider sleeping with earplugs so they don’t wake you when they come to bed.
- Avoid sugary foods, caffeine and alcohol before bed. If you must eat before bed, try something light like an apple or a bowl of cereal. If you need something warm before bed, have herbal tea but stay away from hot chocolate, even if it’s sugar-free. The same goes for smoking. Cigarettes are a stimulant like caffeine and you shouldn’t have a smoke before bed.
- If you or your spouse snores, wear a breathing strip on your nose during sleep. You should also get snoring checked out by a doctor. It could lead to obstructive sleep apnea.