When Noise Is What You Need

Somehow, I managed to make it through raising 2 children without losing too many precious hours of sleep, but over the years insomnia became a part of my nighttime routine. I was fast-tracked to full-blown insomniac status last year when I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and tinnitus.

I miss the days when tinnitus wasn’t a part of my life. I could cherish moments of silence--it actually existed for me. Those days are long gone, and my mind and body crave a low level of background noise in order to rest comfortably.

The need for noise

I just had my first anniversary with Meniere’s disease. That sounds much more festive and celebratory than I intended. The raging lack of silence is the number one cause of my insomnia. While some dismiss the fact that background noise can provide relief for insomnia, I find it, on my good nights, to be quite helpful.

My brain craves at least some type of noise other than the racket in my own head. Over the past year, I have tried several things to help drown out the sound in my left ear while trying to drift off and stay asleep. Whether at home or on vacation, the following tools are the biggest weapons in my battle to sleep.

Ceiling fan

This seems like too simple of a solution, but there is something about the rhythmic hum of the fan that gives my brain something else on which to spend its time. The fan is much more for the sound than the air--I have never enjoyed being cold. Even if I just have the fan on the lowest setting, I appreciate its contribution to the sounds in the room.

Noisemaker

There are tons of noisemakers on the market, and mine is a fairly old one. With several sounds from which to choose, it is perfect for almost everyone. My go-to is the white noise setting. Some might find more comfort listening to the sound of ocean waves or falling rain, but I am most at ease with the white noise filling that frustrating space between wake and sleep.

a noisemaker

Fan app

Traveling gets a little stressful when I don’t have my noisemaker and there is no ceiling fan in the hotel room. I was pleasantly surprised last year to find an app (Sleep Aid Fan App: Google Play Store, App Store) that took the place of both.

I was literally one week into my symptoms and the screaming in my ear was a brand new and scary experience. Being away from home only doubled my frustration and fear. The app provides a simulation of the noise made by a fan, and it sounds, oddly enough, a lot like the white noise I normally use. I have used this app several times over the last year and find it truly helpful.

Air purifier

This one seems like a reach, but it is a godsend when nothing else seems to work. Much like the steady noise generated by a fan or a noisemaker, the purifier blocks out the humming in my head and adds a gentle and welcome sound to the room.

An air purifier

Finding what works for you

For many I have talked to, steady noise seems to be the key. The fluctuation in volume and rhythms of voices from the television or radio don’t do it for me. They offer just enough sound to make me mad and bring me in and out of sleep more often than put me to sleep.

I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you that any one or all of my suggestions will work wonders for you, but I’m no dummy. I realize we are all trying to find our way through this maze of frustration. They may give you a night or 2 of relief, though. If you are like me, anything is worth a shot if it results in a good night’s sleep.

How do you feel about background noise? Does it help or hurt your sleep? Tell us more in the comments below!

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