Impact of sound stimulation during different sleep stages in patients with tinnitus




central auditory processing, sleep spindles, sleep stages N2, N3, REM


It is known that auditory information is continuously processed both during wakefulness and sleep. Consistently, it has been shown that sound stimulation mimicking tinnitus during sleep decreases the intensity of tinnitus and improves the patients’ quality of life. The mechanisms underlying this effect are not known. To begin to address this question, eleven patients suffering from tinnitus were stimulated with sound mimicking tinnitus at different sleep stages; 4 were stimulated in N2, 4 in stage N3 (slow waves sleep) and 3 in REM sleep (stage with Rapid Eyes Movements). Patients’ sleep stage was monitored through polysomnography, for sound stimulation application. Tinnitus level reported by subjects were compared the days before and after stimulation and statistically analyzed (paired Student t test). All patients stimulated at stage N2 reported significantly lower tinnitus intensity the day after stimulation, while none stimulated during stage N3 and only one out of three stimulated during REM sleep showed changes. These results are consistent with studies showing that sound stimulation during N2 (sleep stage with spindles) changes power spectrum and coherence of electroencephalographic signals, and suggest that the N2 sleep stage is a critical period for reducing tinnitus intensity using this therapeutic strategy, during which auditory processing networks are more malleable by sound stimulation.


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How to Cite

Pedemonte, M., Díaz, M., Medina-Ferret, E., & Testa, M. (2018). Impact of sound stimulation during different sleep stages in patients with tinnitus. Loquens, 5(2), e053.