As you likely know, sleep is essential for physical health and mental wellbeing. Good sleep is important for your body and mind to rest and recharge in preparation for the following day. But getting poor sleep may affect you long-term more than you think. In fact, insomnia can exacerbate hearing loss and tinnitus.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is diagnosed when someone has trouble falling and/or staying asleep. It may be acute or chronic, lasting as little as one night or for months on end.
Insomnia may be primary or secondary. Primary insomnia is linked to environmental factors like stress, your sleeping environment or changes to your sleep schedule. Secondary insomnia is a side-effect of another condition like depression, anxiety, substance use, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea and more.
The Link Between Insomnia and Hearing Loss
There are a number of conditions linked to both insomnia and hearing loss.
The strongest connection is between lack of sleep and poor cardiovascular health. Research shows that insufficient sleep causes poor blood circulation throughout the body, including your ears. Your ears rely on healthy blood flow to function.
Within the inner ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. When these cells don’t receive enough oxygen from the blood supply, they die. Once dead, they do not regenerate, and permanent sensorineural hearing loss is the result.
There is also a connection between poor sleep, sleep apnea and hearing loss. Approximately 43% of people with insomnia also have sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing problems and restless sleep. In fact, people with severe sleep apnea wake up more than 30 times each hour.
Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea have larger amounts of plaque in the blood vessels. This can constrict blood flow to the ears as well.
It’s important to seek treatment for your insomnia and any related issues as soon as possible.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with hearing health experts, call Hearing Systems today.