You’ve spent a long day at the office in meetings, and once you come home, you’re beat. Or maybe you work in construction, and the constant background noise leaves your head spinning. The last thing you want to listen to is your kids’ noisy television on full blast. These are all signs of listening fatigue.
What Is Listening Fatigue?
Listening fatigue is your brain’s response to working overtime due to hearing loss. The listening mechanisms in your ears and brain must work together so you can effectively interpret sound.
The tiny hair cells in your ear canal translate sound to electrical signals that are sent to the temporal lobes of your brain where it is processed.
Within the left temporal lobe is Wernicke’s Area, where language is translated. Stimuli are then sent to Broca’s Area in the right temporal lobe where your brain produces speech to respond.
So, Why Do I Feel Tired?
When the hair cells are damaged by noise exposure, they die off and make it difficult for your brain to receive signals. The other mechanisms of your brain must now work harder to compensate for this loss, leaving you tired.
Each hair cell is responsible for interpreting specific pitches and frequencies. You’ll notice you struggle to hear higher or lower pitches of sound when you develop hearing loss.
How Do I Reduce Listening Fatigue?
Take a listening break: Find time each day to get away from ambient noise, conversations, and music to rest your ears. Try to find a quiet place to walk or take your lunch break. It’s also a good time to take out your hearing aids temporarily.
Reduce background noise: Turn off the TV, turn down the radio, and shut the windows. This will help your brain process conversations without competing with other sounds. Use hearing protection in noisy environments.
Deep breathing: Give your brain the oxygen it needs to power itself. Take a few minutes each hour to deeply inhale and exhale and get the boost you need.
Consider hearing aids: Hearing aids and cochlear implants can help you hear sounds you’ve been missing, so your brain doesn’t have to work so hard. Hearing aids also slows further hearing loss to prevent damage to your hair cells.