Sleep disturbance associated with chronic tinnitus

Biol Psychiatry. 1993 Jul;34(1-2):84-90. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(93)90260-k.


Sleep disturbance is a common and frequent complaint reported by tinnitus sufferers. Recent studies have shown that when insomnia and depression are associated with tinnitus there is decreased tolerance and increased discomfort with the tinnitus. The purpose of this study was to assess the reported prevalence and severity of sleep disturbance in chronic tinnitus patients. Patients (n = 80) were military personnel without major psychiatric disturbance and their tinnitus was associated with noise-induced permanent hearing loss (NIHL). Mini Sleep Questionnaire (MSQ) scores for sleep disturbance were found to be higher than those of normal controls in 77% of the patients. Highest MSQ scores in tinnitus patients with a sleep complaint were for delayed sleep, morning awakenings, mid-sleep awakenings, morning fatigue, and chronic fatigue. In contrast, a complaint of excessive daytime sleep (EDS) was not common. The self-rated severity of the tinnitus was greater in subjects with higher sleep disturbance scores. Self-rated depressive symptomatology was also highly correlated with sleep disturbance. Retrospective examination of sleep records and polysomnographic data for 10 patients with a complaint of chronic tinnitus revealed a combined effect for the tinnitus condition when associated with another conventional sleep disorder. In spite of the common complaint of sleep disturbance in tinnitus, only a minority seek a sleep examination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Audiometry
  • Ear Diseases / complications*
  • Ear Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / classification
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep, REM
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / complications*
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology
  • United States