J Am Acad Audiol 2021; 32(02): 076-082
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1718929
Research Article

Preliminary Examination of the Incidence of and Factors Related to Hearing Tinnitus in Dreams

Hashir Aazh
1   Audiology Department, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, Guildford, United Kingdom
Jennifer Stevens
1   Audiology Department, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, Guildford, United Kingdom
Brian C.J. Moore
2   Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations


Background and Purpose The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of the perception of tinnitus in dreams among patients seeking help for tinnitus and/or hyperacusis and to assess whether this is related to the severity of tinnitus and/or hyperacusis.

Research Design This was a retrospective study.

Study Sample The data for 148 consecutive adult patients who attended a tinnitus/hyperacusis clinic in the United Kingdom were included. The average age of the patients was 56 years (standard deviation [SD] = 15 years).

Data Collection Data were collected retrospectively from their records held at the audiology department. Audiological measures were pure-tone audiometry and uncomfortable loudness levels. Questionnaires administered were: Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), Hyperacusis Questionnaire, Insomnia Severity Index, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) of tinnitus loudness, annoyance, and effect on life, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Patient Health Questionnaire. Patients were also asked “If you dream have you ever perceived tinnitus in your dreams?”

Results Five percent of patients (7/148) reported hearing tinnitus in their dreams. There was a nonsignificant trend for patients who reported hearing tinnitus in their dreams to be younger (mean age = 46 years, SD = 15 years) than those who did not (mean age = 57 years, SD = 15 years). The mean scores for the THI and VAS for effect of tinnitus on life were significantly higher (worse) for patients who reported hearing tinnitus in their dreams than for those who did not.

Conclusion A small proportion of patients reported hearing tinnitus in their dreams and this was associated with higher tinnitus handicap as measured via the THI and more effect of tinnitus on life as measured via the VAS. These preliminary results may indicate that those who are greatly affected by their tinnitus are more likely to hear it in their dreams or to be woken by it. Future studies should use methods that can be used to reliably assess if and when tinnitus is perceived during the sleep cycle, using more physiological measures and testing a wider population.

Publication History

Received: 06 February 2020

Accepted: 18 June 2020

Article published online:
09 December 2020

© 2020. American Academy of Audiology. This article is published by Thieme.

Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.
333 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

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