Tinnitus Fades in Early Morning in Semi-Conscious State: Debunks the Damaged Hair Cells Theory

Discussion in 'Support' started by Nick M, Nov 13, 2020.

    1. Nick M

      Nick M Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection
      So every morning for the past several weeks I have observed that early morning when my wife and kids wake up and make noise, I'm in this semi-conscious state where I'm aware of my surroundings but still asleep. I have no tinnitus during this state and I'm clearly conscious enough to make a mental note of this. As soon as I open my eyes and fully wake, within a couple of seconds, the tinnitus clearly fades in.

      It's the strangest thing and completely debunks the "damaged hair cells in the ear are the cause of the noise" theory. At least for me personally.

      Whatever state my brain is in during this semi-conscious state, it doesn't "pick up" the tinnitus. Anyone else notice this phenomenon? Theories?
       
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    2. Philip83
      Jaded

      Philip83 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      2001
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Moped (2001) Noise blast (2014) Club (2017) Snowboard (2018)
      I have the same thing. I've even had times where I hear sounds that are happening around me, but at maybe 20% volume, and if I make myself "wake up" fully, the sound volume increases to 100%. It's pretty cool.

      I don't think this debunks the damaged hair cell -theory. You brain has several ways of "detaching" itself from your surroundings when you sleep, and I think one of these is simply to lower it's "uptake" of sound, whether it be environmental or your tinnitus sound.

      It does the same thing with your nerves when it comes to your muscle functions, which can cause sleep paralysis, for ex, or the feeling that you're sluggish and can't move while dreaming. It's to not have you sleepwalk every time you dream that you are walking, etc.
       
    3. musicblue

      musicblue Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Yes I’ve been noticing the same thing a few times. I call them false dawns as originally I thought my tinnitus was gone when it first happened. It usually happens between 4-6am if I wake up. For me personally, I find it a mystery overall. However if I had to guess, I think it’s due to the brain awaking slowly and whether it happens or not is dependent on the deepness of sleep and hour awoken. I look at it as a massive positive though - if it can be suppressed and go albeit very briefly, then that bodes well for the future and the power of healing and time.
       
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    4. HeavyMantra
      Bugridden

      HeavyMantra Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Steadily worsening since 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      The leading theory is that tinnitus is a reaction from the brain when too little stimulus is received from the hair cells, which means tinnitus is a problem in the brain BUT it's often caused by damaged hair cells. This is why people can have damaged hair cells/significant hearing loss and not have tinnitus. Short version anyway..
       
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    5. FGG
      No Mood

      FGG Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multi-factorial
      It's possible that it could be related to neck issues (you take pressure off your spine when you sleep and relax all muscles) or vascular (blood pressure is lower in the morning).

      I think it's also possible some people are just "groggier" when they wake up and your brain still needs to perceive tinnitus even if the cause is "phantom cochlea".
       
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    6. iGL0CK
      Thinking

      iGL0CK Member

      Location:
      Poland
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma (punk rock show)
      Tinnitus is perceived and created in the brain. Any change in brain working (i.e. using alcohol, drugs, benzos) have an effect on tinnitus too because they have an effect on the brain.
      The brain goes through different states when sleeping and waking up. Just after you wake up from deep sleep your brain isn't as clear as 15 minutes later, your reaction time is slower, same your blood flow and heartbeat. It doesn't debunk the theory about hair cells, it's just how our brain works.
      When I'm falling asleep and I'm really relaxed I hear my tinnitus about 80% lower and it sounds like it's far away.
       
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    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Nick M

      Nick M Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection
      Thanks for the theories. Just want to make it clear that this phenomenon does not happen when I just wake up. Maybe it’s just me but I can remain in this semi-wake/sleep state for as long as I want. I hear sounds at normal levels and I’m conscious enough to take mental notes and decide when I want to actually wake up. I have zero tinnitus during this state. My tinnitus clearly fades in the moment I go to 100% conscious. Perhaps the nerve sensitivity theory would make sense here to some extent but I find it fascinating and oftentimes I don’t want to fully wake to enjoy being tinnitus free for as long as possible.
       
    8. Tinniger

      Tinniger Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      increasingly uncertain, maybe noise, maybe somatic ?
      A high number of tinnitus sufferers report significant fluctuations in tinnitus intensity, often with daily changes. This too would actually be an argument against the fact that hair cell damage is a common cause of tinnitus. Because the hair cell damage does not fluctuate daily.
       
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    9. GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      I agree with you 100% - spikes have never been accounted for in anything I've read and it REALLY concerns me. Why does my tinnitus get louder from taking a shower, a dog barking, dropping a ceramic plate etc... this isn't killing hair cells, but it can spike me for days or weeks.
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Nick M

      Nick M Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection
      Exactly. I also recall studies where tinnitus has been induced by earmuffs that block out sound. Again this does not support the damaged hair cell theory. I believe tinnitus is caused by abnormal neural activity from lack of acoustic stimuli. This also explains why people with no tinnitus begin to get it when they are in a completely silent room for a period of time. It's an amplification mechanism and the consequences of this amplification in my opinion is the ability to pick up "crosstalk" from nearby neurons. When our hair cells get damaged, the brain stops receiving input (similar to being a silent room). So in my opinion tinnitus is in the brain, not the ear. This explains why we have fluctuations with "good" and "bad" days. Perhaps the changes in brain chemistry from "life" and diet can affect this amplification mechanism thus the fluctuations. The scary part about all this is that science still doesn't know this basic mechanism behind it and we have multiple theories floating around.

      How are we supposed to come up with a solution when we still don't have a basic grasp of what's going on?
       
    11. GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      I pray to god that if we restore input the brain will readjust. Thankfully there are some precedents for this like unblocking earwax from the ear, cochlear implants, etc... so I'm hopeful, but I agree it is scary that it may be a problem so far beyond our understanding.

      My tinnitus did go away once before over a period of years - not sure if that was the ear recovering or the brain readjusting, but I know it's possible. That was very mild tinnitus however with no spikes or reactivity, just an inert ring that diminished over time.
       
    12. FGG
      No Mood

      FGG Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multi-factorial
      Anything that interferes with sound conduction will cause "phantom cochlea." For some people it's hair cell, for some people it's TMJ, for some people it's ear drum pathology, for some people it's inflammatory. For many people it's multi factorial (you can have hair cell loss and TMJ or autoimmune disease and otoscleoris etc etc).

      People are obsessed with there being one structural cause and it's not. Just like there are *many* causes of Horner's syndrome that produce the symptoms of it.
       
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    13. Alfred87

      Alfred87 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      23/9/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I believe more on hair cells in the cochlea to bend rather than damage. That why our brains are trying to amplify the input we listen. This happens when we are in a completely silent room where tinnitus is always super loud.
       
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    14. TrevorSanders

      TrevorSanders Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure/Ototoxic Medication
      You basically said it yourself. Damaged hair cells prevent us from receiving certain frequencies, these frequencies are then created in the brain. In theory, restoring these hair cells/synapses should turn off this phantom sound.
       
    15. DebInAustralia
      No Mood

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      30/12/13
      I wouldn't say I'm tinnitus free in the morning before I wake up fully, but it is generally lower. I wonder if it has anything to do with Cortisol.
       
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    16. newbieT

      newbieT Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      4/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Same thing here. Some mornings I would wake up and have no perceived T until I start listening for it, then it ramps up and louder over next few seconds. Maybe if I never thought about it, it wouldn't exist, but alas, my mind always does a mental T check first thing in the morning like clockwork.

      Thinking about it must subconsciously tell our brain to amplify the noise, or my other theory is maybe it subconsciously tense a muscle in the ear or ear drum so it doesnt vibrate as well for higher frequencies. Or increase blood pressure in the head (possible since our heart rate is slower and blood pressure lower in our sleep than after we wake up)

      Lying down always 100% results in higher T than standing up for me, so I'm guessing it might have something to do with blood pressure.

      There is definitely a pattern and it seem like many people have the same experience.
       
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    17. AfroSnowman
      Balanced

      AfroSnowman Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      April 16 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Nonnatural energy source
      When I am on the edge of sleep but still conscious my tinnitus fades out.
       
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    18. GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      Sometimes I'll wake up around 4am due to the tinnitus. If I get up and be a night owl the tinnitus is much quieter. No idea why other than something physiological must be going on with my circadian rhythm.
       
    19. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Nick M

      Nick M Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection
      Trevor,

      The reason why I bring this up is due to two theories floating around. One is that a damaged cochlea or damaged hair cells are the root of tinnitus. Similar to the microphone being damaged sending erroneous signals to the receiver and the other theory is the damage to the microphone causes the receiver the amplify the input to use the microphone analogy. This is why some who are suffering from tinnitus want to cut the auditory nerve (obviously thinking the tinnitus itself is coming from the ear). Often times they still have tinnitus but the added bonus of complete hearing loss. I would never sacrifice my hearing for the chance of the tinnitus going away.
       
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    20. SadMan
      Tired

      SadMan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      What would you do if your tinnitus was 100% caused by acoustic trauma?
       
    21. Ken77
      Frustrated

      Ken77 Member

      Location:
      Belgium
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown. Possibly benzos (lorazepam) and/or stress
      I have noticed this too. When I am still half asleep my tinnitus is very quiet, almost like a whisper. Then, as a start to wake up it starts getting louder and much more high pitched. When I am fully awake it quiets down a bit again (until I get exposed to sound, then it spikes again). So weird.
       
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    22. GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      For those with NIHL, think of it as a conditional bit of code that only triggers if your ears are damaged - it doesn't debunk the assertion you have damaged hearing.
       
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    23. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Nick M

      Nick M Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection
      I'm not sure what your question is but are you asking what I think if my hearing was damaged by acoustic trauma and I had tinnitus, would I still think it would be worth severing the auditory nerve in the hopes of the elimination of tinnitus? I guess that would depend on how damaged your hearing is. If you're still able to hear albeit distorted, I think it's still worth keeping your hearing. If you're 90% deaf then I think I would take that chance.

      Personally, my hearing is mostly OK so even if someone told me by cutting the nerve, it would completely eliminate the tinnitus, I would not do it. Some people think differently.
       
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    24. Pulsing Ear
      Frustrated

      Pulsing Ear Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Right. The tinnitus is still there because of the damage in the ear but the brain does not "hear" it because of the state you are in. Just like you don't hear it while you are asleep. It's not like the signal for the tinnitus stops while you are asleep, it's still traveling to the brain but it's not heard because you are asleep.
       
    25. Ehren M
      Nerdy

      Ehren M Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/24/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma
      I experience this also.

      But I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with audible tinnitus, and then wake up later in the morning with the tinnitus negligible or gone until I encounter some kind of external droning sound (car engine, central heating, etc.), and then the tinnitus seems to join in as if to sympathize with the external sound and become annoying again. Cortisol levels would presumably be higher in the morning than when I wake up halfway thru the night, I think, so it doesn't seem purely cortisol-related (though I do find relief from meditation). Often when I'm in a quiet place throughout the day, tinnitus goes away. Merely breathing loudly seems to be enough to activate it, but more often than not it is more quiet after I shower. Truly is a mysterious beast, and I'm really not sure whether sound exclusion for the sake of keeping it at bay is a healthy approach. Any thoughts on that?
       
    26. Gman45

      Gman45 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Oklahoma USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/13/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concussion or ETD
      I have noticed this same phenomenon. Not every morning, but sometimes waking up it's almost gone. It's the only time I ever almost hear silence. Then, as soon as fully awake it fades in almost as if someone turned up the dial. Oddly, in the middle of the night it tends to be loud though and wake me up without this peace period of a few moments. I find that it only turns down after a good sleep.

      Mine also Is louder when laying down than standing up and walking around. It's odd.
       
    27. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      It would explain why Prednisone helps so many, it's just more potent cortisol.
       
    28. __nico__
      No Mood

      __nico__ Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2003
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      chemo/barotrauma/noise/autoimmune disorder
      The shit from the "cochlear synaptopathy," "hidden hearing loss," "pain fibre," etc crowd doesn't generally impress me anymore because almost none of them take into account the mere existence of the middle ear. While tinnitus and hyperacusis can both most definitely be of cochlear origin I really dislike the idea of tinnitus being "solely" a brain thing considering people improve from tenotomy, stapedotomy, eardrum reinforcement, Lidocaine on the trigeminal nerve etc but of course doctors are clueless and won't set out research into this area. I think the death of cochlear hair cells explains run of the mill tinnitus and hearing loss but I cannot see how it accounts for things like TTTS, pain from sounds, dysacusis, diplacusis, reactive tinnitus, loudness hyperacusis, recruitment and so on, which by the way, all these aren't actual diagnoses, but poorly understood etiologies that Jastreboff and the sound therapy gang has held us back from further research.

      The vast majority of tinnitus cases I've seen, that aren't the run of the mill non changing non reactive form, from obsessive reading and even "hyperacusis" that comes with it were mostly from middle ear dysfunction. I mean, I don't know how things like "reactive tinnitus" can even be explained by cochlear hair cell death. We need more research into middle ear conditions since everyone is so focused on the cochlea and the brain and it takes away from many sufferers who have physical problems with the ear, jaw, various nerves, hydrops, inflammation etcetera that will go on perpetually undiagnosed since most ENTs are clueless.
       
    29. hans799
      Mellow

      hans799 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Hungary
      Tinnitus Since:
      Born with it
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Worsened Dec 2016 by headphones
      Same here. A few years back when I developed a new tone I was of course obsessed with it and vividly observed this phenomenon lots of times. I sleep with earplugs so the tinnitus is audible crystal clear. As I start to drift towards sleep, there is a state in which I retain some conscious control but the tinnitus is "disconnected". Like you, if I wake myself up, it comes back.

      It's a cool phenomenon, observing it helped me a lot in falling asleep with the new tones (to which I've gotten habituated to as the years passed, plus they seem to have mellowed out, too).
       
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