eli5: Why are your ears more sensitive at night?


Why do louder volumes hurt your ears less during the day than they do at night? For example I can have my headphone volume at about 7/10 and my ears feel comfortable, however the same volume at night not only sounds louder but makes it uncomfortable to listen to, so I have to turn it to 3/10 which makes it more comfortable.

In: Biology

It’s a psychoacoustic thing. It’s actually your brain that is just tired and over-stimulated.

Also one would expect Home to be relaxing and quiet, whereas one expects outdoor/city life to be louder so you brain does a bit of volume control when it expects loud sounds, and it lets up on that a bit when it doesn’t expect loud sound.

Nighttime is quiet, so your ears are no longer accustomed to loud noises – making louder volumes seem unbearable.

Also, I imagine it’s a psychological effect too. You’re brain is more relaxed and tired at night, so it’s not ready for intensity. This is why music seems faster at night too – your brain is processing slower which makes the music feel faster.

Your ears work by detecting sound that is louder than background noise. The ear senses differences in volume, not the true measure of loudness.

So what loud is determined by its relative energy to sounds around you.

At night, there is usually less going on and therefore it is literally quieter. So 7/10 now sounds really loud compared to the quiet night, and 3/10 seems the same as 7/10 during the day.