Can a sound pillow help with tinnitus? As a long time sufferer of tinnitus I set out to find the answer.
Can A Sound Pillow Help With Tinnitus?
What Is Tinnitus?
People with tinnitus hear a sound when there is no actual sound. Even in a completely quiet room, tinnitus sufferers will hear sounds in their ears. I used to lay in bed and hear noises and think we had burglars or I had left some equipment running. I wrote a blog about how my tinnitus drives me crazy.
Some famous people suffer, or have suffered from, tinnitus including Beethoven and the actor William Shatner.
In my case, a recent visit to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist confirmed that my ear structure and actual hearing is perfect. Well, perfect for a woman of my age whatever that meant, hrrmph. My tinnitus is like a whole level of hearing that has nothing to do with my ears but comes from my brain.
What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?
My right ear has a permanent high pitched sound, like electronic equipment. I can hear it clearly now sitting here writing this blog post. Sometimes that will be come a deafening, high pitched squeal that makes me grab my ear. Luckily that is an occasional added extra. My left ear has a hum of a lower pitch, plus it has the occasional droning sound, like a washing machine. Sometimes I can also hear my heartbeat in my left ear.
I found this useful, short, video that gives examples of the sounds people can hear with tinnitus. Certainly, four of these are very familiar to me!
Sleeping With Tinnitus
During the day, on the whole, the sound of tinnitus is hidden by the background noise of everyday life. For example, while I am aware of the sound in my right ear as I type, my computer is making a soft whirring sound. I also have a log fire crackling in the background. So the tinnitus is not so prominent.
At bedtime this background noise recedes and the tinnitus can take over. I can’t tell you the nights I have gone to bed, said goodnight to my husband and lay down to sleep but been kept awake by the tinnitus. It is deafening at night in a quiet room, honestly, you have to experience it to understand how bad it is.
The obvious answer is to have some background noise, perhaps soft music or nature sounds, to stop the tinnitus taking over. But when sharing a room with a partner that can then keep them awake. That is when I came across the idea of a sound pillow.
Can A Sound Pillow Help With Tinnitus?
My Aunt suffered with tinnitus and I remember that years ago she bought a special music speaker to put under her pillow in bed but it didn’t work too well, plus she could feel the speaker through the pillow.
I wanted to try the idea of a sound pillow, where the speaker is an integral part of the pillow, and see if that worked. My Mum offered to buy me one as an early Christmas present and I am delighted to say it actually works.
There are many brands of sound pillow on the market, the one my Mum bought me is a Kanguru so that is the one I am talking about here.
Setting Up The Sound Pillow
The sound pillow arrives set up for use and ready to go. No batteries are required because it literally is a speaker that connects to your music device using a 3.5mm jack. You can operate it from your smartphone or tablet. I have been using mine with two devices, my iPod and an old CD player as I have a stack of relaxation CDs that I can play.
The pillow I received is soft and comfortable and you can’t feel the speaker. It has a cable that extends out of the corner to connect to the music device of your choice. I have the cable threaded through the back of the metal headboard on our bed and have the music device on my bedside table.
Not Disturbing Your Partner
The hardest part of setting up the pillow, and it wasn’t difficult, was establishing the correct volume. One that was enough to stop the tinnitus taking over yet didn’t wake up my partner. It helps that the speaker is to one side in the pillow so it is farthest away from my partner. I wasn’t sure how that would work as I tend to toss and turn at night. I sleep on both sides and laying on my back so I couldn’t see how listening to the music in all sleeping positions would work. But it does! I can even hear the music when I lay on my back.
Picking The Right Music
This might seem obvious but actually it was a bit tricky establishing which music to play. The first night I played some relaxing piano music and that was a big mistake. The sound is obviously not as clear as it would be if the speaker was not inside the pillow. At times the piano music sounded, well, plonky! And I found it rather irritating.
Buddhist chanting was a huge success, I often repeat mantras at bedtime as part of switching off for sleep so these work wonderfully well.
I did have a playlist with eight hours of relaxing music which was a mixed success. I got to sleep really quickly but a few times in the night woke up with a start with the music so since then I only play things that last about an hour. If I wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep I put the music back on again.
Things To Note
While my iPod is relatively silent in operation, the portable CD player makes a whirring sound when it finishes which woke us all up. So, when using that device I put it in the bedside drawer with the drawer open just a crack to allow for the cable.
I have also had to avoid any whale or dolphins sounds or spoken voice as though my partner can’t hear it, the dogs can! After three weeks I have built up a great repertoire of music and natural sounds I can listen to.
So, Does The Sound Pillow Help With Tinnitus?
I am delighted to say it does! And the benefits have been more than I expected. I suffer with Fibromyalgia which means a lot of discomfort and disturbed sleep patterns. I wanted the sound pillow purely because of my tinnitus but I have found listening to the music relaxes my whole body. The pain and discomfort has been less and I am sleeping much better overall. Yes, I still have nights when I can’t sleep but they are a lot less than previously.
I used to be tired and want to go to bed but not necessarily look forward to it. I knew that once the lights went out and the room went quiet, between the discomfort and the tinnitus I would be laying awake for hours. That is largely now a thing of the past. I find I am enjoying selecting the music to listen to and look forward to settling down with my head on the pillow to listen to it. For anyone with tinnitus I would say a sound pillow is worth a try.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!