Catathrenia – Are You Making Strange Noises While Sleeping?

a woman who can't sleep because of the man's noiseJust when you thought you were dropping off to sleep, your partner irritably shakes you awake. A conversation along these lines takes place:

‘You’re making those weird noises again!’

‘What noises?’

‘You know, with that horrible groaning sound that goes on for ages. I can’t sleep with you doing that…’

If this sounds familiar, then it may be that you’re suffering from catathrenia.


What is Catathrenia?

Sometimes known as nocturnal groaning, catathrenia is a rare sleep disorder which falls under the category of parasomnias.

Parasomnias are most basically defined as strange night-time occurrences. And the sound made by catathrenia sufferers in their sleep can be very strange indeed.

People who have catathrenia will typically breathe in deeply while sleeping. They then hold their breath for a short while. Then emit a long groaning, moaning or shrieking noise which can last from a few seconds up to a minute.

At the end of the groan will be a secondary noise like a snorting, or the person might also wake up.

The noise made can be very loud, and for some people can even strangely sound like a sexual noise. This of course can be quite disturbing or annoying for other people in the household who can hear it.

Catathrenia usually occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. It is possible for it to happen during other sleep stages though.

Most people report it happening later in the night, which mirrors the fact that there is more REM sleep later on during sleeping.

People who have catathrenia will usually experience it for many years. And during this time will in many cases experience it most nights.

And unless their partner is one of the lucky few people who can sleep through any noise, they will also experience it second hand!


What Catathrenia isn’t

catathrenia and snoring are not the same thingCatathrenia could be confused for other sleep disorders or heath issues. So it’s important to understand that it isn’t any of the following:

  • Related to snoring. The easy way to tell the difference is that snoring usually takes place on the in-breath, whereas catathrenia takes place during the out-breath.
  • Related to exhalatory  snoring (which seems like it contradicts the first point). The noise in this kind of snoring is also made on the out-breath. However, the distinction is that only with catathrenia does the person hold their breath after they breathe in.
  • Sleep apnea. Even though both disorders involve a pause in breathing, there’s a key difference. With apnea the pause happens after breathing out; with catathrenia the pause happens after breathing in.
  • Stridor, which is a potentially dangerous condition where a person lets out a high pitch sound due to a constriction of the airways.
  • Related to sleep talking. Despite the fact that sometimes people can make a very strange sound, it isn’t the same as sleep talking.
  • Moaning as occurs during epileptic seizures.
  • Related to any other breathing disorder.
  • Related to any dream states or mental suffering.

When diagnosing catathrenia, a medical professional would want to rule out the above possibilities, particularly the more threatening conditions like apnea, epilepsy and stridor.


What causes catathrenia?

As with many sleep disorders the exact cause of catathrenia is still in debate among the medical and scientific community. There have been various theories put forward, including:

  • Obstruction or restriction of the upper airway
  • During REM sleep, the vocal chords may partially close off. A forced out-breath then takes place to push through this closure and unblock the vocal chords
  • Damage to brain structures that control breathing
  • There have also been suggestions it’s connected to high stress levels

Unfortunately there’s a lack of studies that have been done to work out the exact causes. Since Catathrenia results in more social problems than being medically dangerous, researchers are for the most part focused on sleep disorders which can be harmful.

Despite the lack of consensus as to the cause, it does appear that many researchers believe it’s an obstruction or restriction of the airways that causes catathrenia. Because of that, some argue that it should not be classed as a parasomnia, but a sleep-related breathing disorder.


Catathrenia treatment

Many people don’t even realise they have catathrenia until a partner or someone sleeping in their house tells them about the noise. The first step is of course to identify that it isn’t a different sleep disorder.

Talking with a medical professional or having a sleep study conducted is the best way to make sure catathrenia is identified correctly. You may be diagnosed purely from your history and reported symptoms.

Otherwise you may be asked to have a polysomnogram, which is an over-night sleep study.

Following this there are 2 ways of looking at treatment:

  1. Should the sufferer look at ways to address the problem?
  2. Should the person who is being disturbed find ways to block out the noise?

For actual treatment of the patient, it seems either an oral device or a CPAP machine are currently the main options, with surgery also a possibility.

In 2008, a study at Standford University of 7 catathrenia sufferers found that a Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) machine helped resolve the nocturnal groaning for all 7 people.

A CPAP machine delivers air gently through the nose to keep the airways open. Interestingly it’s normally only used by people who have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

In that study though, all 7 of the people refused to keep wearing the machine, and most had surgery after the study. The researchers reported that those who did have surgery were cured of their catathrenia.

Since catathrenia is seen as a mild disorder, and more of an inconvenience for sufferers and their families, treatment is not usually rushed and the least intrusive options are offered first.

So the alternative is for people who are being disturbed by the noise to take action. Wearing earplugs for sleeping could help in some circumstances, though possibly not for the loudest of groaners.

I’ve also heard suggestions of using a white noise machine to mask the sound. This is unlikely to work though if you’re in the same room.

Maybe if you’re hearing it from another bedroom in the same house, but not if you are right next to the person making the sounds.

So if you’re unable to find ways for you and anyone else living with you to cope, or are concerned that you might have a different sleep disorder, you may find seeking medical advice a good first step.

Reader’s tip

Finally, a couple of readers have commented to say that they found raising their pillows helped stop the groaning sounds.

I haven’t seen this published as a recommended treatment, but it’s great that readers think it helps. I’d be very grateful if you decide to try it, if you could leave a comment later to say if it worked or not. That way I can write in more detail about how often it helps people.


212 Responses to “Catathrenia – Are You Making Strange Noises While Sleeping?”

  1. Jan says:

    Hello Ethan! I would like to report on my progress. Yes the moaning stopped when I started raising my pillows while sleeping. Several times I asked my mom and she told me that she didn’t hear me moan, except for that one night I was very tired. Hoping that it was a permanent solution. For those who are interested to do what I did, I placed 2 pillows over the part between my shoulder, neck and head. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Jan
      Thanks for your comment and for getting back to me. It’s great that it seems to have helped. Let’s hope it stays that way!
      Thanks again for reporting back.

  2. Tannis says:

    My husband says i make puppy dog sounds in my sleep he said he will record me one night to hear this. Should i be concerned? what does this mean?

    • Hi Tannis
      Thanks for your comment. I think the first thing is to listen to the recording yourself. If you agree that the noises you make are unusual, and it’s affecting your husband’s sleep, then perhaps talk to your doctor about it for some advice.

  3. Alyssa says:

    I think my son may have this….he is only three but has done this every night, multiple times a night since he was an infant. It is awfully loud and horrible because I can’t stand sleeping with him and he loves to lay with me. I’ll be interested to see if he grows out of it or if we will be able to find something that works. Thanks for the article, I’d never heard of anything like thia before.

    • Hi Alyssa
      Thanks for your comment. He may grow out of it, but it’s hard to say without knowing exactly what it is. Have you spoken to a doctor about it? I think if there are any breathing issues with a child’s sleep, it’s a good idea to get them checked out.

  4. Armel says:

    Hi, I’m only 14 but I do groan and make really strange noises, and it really bothers my brother and what he has explained to me it fits perfectly to what it says on this site. What do you think the first thing I should do. I really want it to stop. Thanks

    • Hi Armel
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear this is causing you some difficulties. I think the first thing is to talk to your parents about it. They can then take you to the doctor to get checked out. They might also be able to think of ways to help your brother cope with the noise, perhaps by moving rooms or listening to music for example. You might also like to try something a couple of readers have suggested which is to raise your pillow and see if a more upright position helps you. It’s worth trying at least!

  5. Vicky says:

    Hi since being with my partner he has noticed that i make really strange noises in my sleep he says i breath really fast and heavy and make really loud groans and moans (him saying i sound like the exorcist) i wake him up almost every night with these weird sounds i also have night terrors were i scream really loud in my sleep waking myself up sometimes and my partner up constantly also my partner says i twitch n my body jerks really bad in my sleep he says its like sleeping next to someone who is having a fit. What is making me do these things and what can i do to help stop them? Help will be much appreciated as i haven’t a clue what is happening and my partner is losing out on a lot of sleep. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Vicky
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad time sleeping, and that it’s affecting both you and your partner. Have you spoken to your doctor about it? With so many different symptoms appearing, it might be good to talk it over with them and perhaps ask to see a sleep specialist to find out what is going on.

  6. Jan says:

    I was recently made aware that I moan every night while sleeping. Though I sometimes catch myself involuntarily moaning while I was between sleep/wake period, which normally occurs after a stressful day, I did not know that it became a nightly episode. I do believe that I have catathrenia since I moan after breathing in and it was during exhale period. I researched on this and decided to experiment by placing 2 pillows under my head to elevate my upper body, just like what I did when I have asthma because I read that catathrenia may have some relation to airway problems. It’s been 3 nights already and I’ve been told that I didn’t moan anymore. But I will continuously monitor if my solution indeed works.

    • Hi Jan
      Thanks very much for your comment and your interesting idea for dealing with the moaning. It would be great if you could report back and let me and other readers know if the raised pillow idea has worked on a permanent basis.

  7. Melinda says:

    My daughter moans and snores while she sleeps and it is really bad and loud which is stopping me from sleeping and I tried a fan a humidifier even cooling down the house I don’t know what to do but I can’t take this noise any more

    • Hi Melinda
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’re having trouble sleeping because of your daughter’s sounds at night. Have you tried speaking to a doctor for some advice? And sad as it might sounds, sometimes really the best way to cope with noise you can’t control is by using earplugs for sleep. I do so personally, and have done for years and find it helps me sleep. I’d rather be able to turn off the noise which keeps me awake, but can’t control traffic and dogs barking. So I use earplugs and it gives me the silence I need.

  8. Jan says:

    I have been groaning from a very young age. I am now 20 years old and do not understand why this has to happen. I cannot hear myself making these loud noises, and my throat sometimes becomes sore. I want to stop with this groaning, how do I do it?

    • Hi Jan

      Thanks for your comment. I think the best idea would be to speak to your doctor. But beforehand, try to record the sounds you make in your sleep. You can get mobile phone Apps which will automatically record when they detect noise, or you could use another recording system if you have one to hand. That was your doctor will have a better idea perhaps of what kind of problem it might be and whether you need to see a specialist or not.

  9. Daniel says:

    My dad has been making these noises for a long time now and some days I hear these noises, I wake up and go check on him to see if he’s ok. Will he be OK as if not what should I approach to not let me dad suffer?

    Thank you

    • Hi Daniel,

      It’s hard to say what the noises are exactly, that’s the problem. To really find out, he needs to speak to his doctor. I would recommend recording the noise and then seeing a doctor if you think the noises aren’t just normal snoring for example. You can gets good apps for your smart phone which automatically record noise in the bedroom.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    A few months ago, I woke up with a sore throat and I was pretty confused because I wasn’t sick or anything. When I was asleep, my sister woke me up pretty disturbed asking why I was making strange noises. I didn’t believe her. The next night, she woke me up again so I would stop with the noises. Finally, I stopped groaning after 3 nights. But I still had a sore throat. I think this only happens when I’m sleep deprived because it happened again for a couple of nights when I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Is this still catathrenia?

    • Hi Elizabeth
      Thanks for your comment. It’s impossible for me to tell you whether or not it’s catathrenia unfortunately. You’d need to check with your doctor rather than only relying on the internet and my opinion. I do wonder if it’s due to the sore throat at the time. Sleep deprivation is known to contribute to a range of sleep problems. So perhaps the combo of a lack of sleep and the osre throat led to you making the noises. I would wait and see if it continues before thinking too much about whether it’s an actual sleep disorder.

  11. Desiree says:

    I experience this occasionally, but it usually happens when I’m almost asleep and I would make a noise, and it’s not sleep talking, and it wakes me up. I really have thought I was the only one experiencing this since it all started earlier this year.

    • Hi Desiree
      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say whether you really experience catathrenia or it’s something else. But whatever the case, you’re definitely not alone in making noises in your sleep, nor in waking yourself up from it. You could try recording yourself sleeping to see what noises you make exactly. There are some mobile phone Apps which can do this for you.

  12. Nigel says:


    I’m pretty sure I have Catathrenia as well. It’s been going for a long time now 5-8 Years. Sometimes it’s not so bad and I feel OK in the morning but lately I feel tired after waking up, I have bad dreams and wake up a lot during the night. Articles like these often point out it’s only social problem but I’m not so sure about it. I sometimes hold breath for a good 30 seconds or more before start “groaning”. I will try to record some more nights to understand this more since it’s started to bother me more lately.

    • Hi Nigel
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you might not be convinced it’s just a social problem in your case. If you’re having such a long period of breath-holding, I would recommend talking to your doctor about it. I think it’s worth getting checked out to make sure you don;t in fact have sleep apnea. It might also be helpful to take your recordings with you.

  13. Nurse says:

    Ive been having this symptoms for at least five years now. My mom used to yelled at me to stop whining like a baby and I would hear myself do it at times without meaning to do it.
    My fiancé has been complaining about it and I’m under a lot of stress so they are getting worse. I know I hold my breath while I sleep bc I wake up with mild midline chest pains.
    Also, I own a fit bit and it records my sleep. My actually sleep time is no more than 2 hours a night and my restless awake time is over 4. I wish I knew about this condition before.
    Will definitely get a sleep study and mention this article.
    Thank you so much for making me feel normal and not just a “whiny baby”

    • Hi there
      Thank for your comment and I’m glad the article has provided some information to help you understand what it could be. If you do have any breathing issues when sleeping I think it’s definitely a good idea to get a professional opinion about it. It’s better safe than sorry where possible sleep related breathing disorders are concerned.

  14. Janet says:

    I have recently started making strange noises and it usually wakes me up. It’s not snoring, its usually when I’m dreaming and I call out in my dream but its not how I have experienced bad dream shouting out previously, this is more like a groaning noise been squeezed out!
    I am going through a stressful time at the moment so wondered if this could have caused this recent change?

    • Hi Janet

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it’s possible that stress is contributing to some new form of sleep disturbance, especially if the two have come about around the same time. I guess the only way to find out is to try and reduce the stress, either by tackling the source of the stress itself, or by doing relaxing things before going to bed. Personally I would try and do both, assuming it’s possible and within your control.

  15. Emma says:

    Despite the article making me a little more worried about my problem I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with it! I’ve been suffering for years, I frequently hold my breath during sleep and continue to make ‘sexual’ noises almost every night so my sister has told me as she can hear it from her room if she’s awake. I never considered it a disorder until I started researching into it. I’m not all too sure about what to do from here but I am a little concerned for any future partner who may have to deal with this

    • Hi Emma

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry if the article made you more worried. You probably don’t need to worry that much, but I know when you read articles which discuss lot of possible options, with comments where people describe their often bad experiences, it can lead to concern. I think the reality is that many, many people have to cope with noises from a partner, be it snoring, breathing, moving about a lot or whatever, and most people are able to sleep through it or get used to it in time. So the chances are you’ll be fine on that front, especially when you have an understanding partner as well. In terms of what to do next, well I think probably discussing it with your doctor is a good idea if it’s worrying you or impacting on your normal life, either due to worry or causing sleep problems. At the very least they’ll be able to talk you through it and perhaps offer some solutions.

  16. Elena says:

    Hi I have recently turned 13 2 months ago. My family members would always wake me up to tell me to stop making weird noises. I didn’t even know I was making noises! But my mom woke me up a few days ago pretty early and was mad and told me to stop making noises because they had gotten louder. I’m pretty frightened actually because I don’t know whats happening! I have always slept fine until a couple of weeks after 13. Whats happening?

    • Hi Elena
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’re worried, especially if your family keep waking you up. The thing is though, it’s probably not your fault and so you shouldn’t feel bad about it. And in terms of being frightened, it’s most likely nothing serious, but you can always ask your mum to take you to the doctor to ask about it. At least then you and your family can get some professional advice and help hopefully.

  17. Nicole Ferguson says:

    Hello I found this article very helpful because I also make noises in my sleep but its my a moaning sound its more of a very loud humming noise. and I can also hear it when I do it but I have no way of controlling it when it comes. and I only do it when im in the (REM) stage once i’m into a deep sleep It doesn’t happen could this be the same thing as Catathrenia?

    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say really, as the best person to provide a diagnosis is your doctor or a sleep specialist. Do you mean to say though that in REM sleep you are aware of yourself making the humming noises? Do you wake up during this awareness, or do you only remember it the next day?

    • Alice says:

      I also do the humming sound. I don’t always know it,but it kept my husband up last night. He tried to wake me but it didn’t work. I think I do it more if I’m really tired.

      • Hi Alice

        It’s possible that it happens more when tired, as with many sleep problems. If it’s a constant problem for your husband, he could try some earplugs. And have you spoken to anyone about it?

  18. Toyin says:

    Am very grateful to find this article on google and to know that am not the only one suffering from catathrenia . I started making strange noise from sleep since 1998. My mother always woke me up whenever it happen but i dont have any knowledge of it, am 30yrs old now, its an embarrasing sound, some of my neighbor make jest of me. How i wish i can find a cure to it. Toyin from Nigeria

  19. Joh says:

    In middle school I found out I had the same issue ever since my sister and I had to share a room. It was comical to them and to me too til I grew up. I was hospitalized last year and when I woke up in the hospital everyone was looking at me weird. A nice lady decided to tell me that I must’ve had quite a dream because I was making noises. I felt so embarrassed. Recently, my boyfriend was awoken by these noises and recorded it. He showed me the next morning and I could not believe what I was hearing. It sounded like it was me getting aroused and pleasured. It caused a strain in our relationship because he thinks that I’m thinking about other men. I’m glad I found this site so that we can better understand what has been happening.

    • Hi Joh
      Thanks for your comment, and I can understand the embarrassment it’s caused you. Hopefully if you and your boyfriend both read through all the previous comments, you’ll find many examples of people who are having the same problem and not seeing other people, despite the noises they might make. I can understand why he might find it uncomfortable to listen to if he’s not involved, but if he’s understanding, after seeing other people go through the same thing, and speaking to you, he’ll be able to accept that it’s a sleep disorder. And although it has unfortunate symptoms, they don’t mean it’s evidence of anything bad.

  20. klyne says:

    I believe that I have this sleeping disease. It’s been 8 years now, or maybe more but I did not know it before.
    When I was 16, the girl who shared my room woke me up every night because she couldn’t sleep because of my noises.
    I am now 24, I’ve lived with my boyfriend for two years, and he has to wear earplugs so he can sleep. I usually wait until he is asleep to try and sleep. Recently he told me that it was weird because I hold my breath just after I breath in, for about 1 or 2 seconds, and then, I make noise.

    This problem ruin my life. I can’t sleep when there is people around, because I don’t want to bother them with it, so I prevent myself from sleeping.

    I’ve never found a solution for it, so if someone has some advice for me, it would be great.
    Thank you.
    (sorry for eventual language mistakes, English isn’t my mother tongue)

    • Hi Klyne
      Thanks for your comment, and don’t worry about the English – it’s very good!
      I can understand your distress and worries about what people will think. At the end of the day though, I think that the people are around you who care about you will be more understanding than you might fear. Your boyfriend for example has stayed with you for two years, and is willing to wear earplugs to deal with it. I think that shows that he clearly likes you enough to find ways to get round it. We all have things about us which we worry other people might not like. And I imagine you put up with one or two of your boyfriend’s ways too!
      As for preventing yourself from sleeping, I can understand why you do this, but I think it’s unfair on yourself. Have you asked your boyfriend if he hears it at all through the earplugs? Maybe you don’t need to wait for him to fall asleep!
      And as for the pause in breathing, since you pause on the in-breath that seems more likely to be catathrenia than apnea for example, and making the noise on the out-breath seems like it might be catathrenia rather than snoring.
      I think in terms of solutions, other than some of the ideas other readers have left in the comments and what is in the original article, the best plan would be to speak to your doctor about it, and perhaps see if you can get a referral to a sleep specialist.
      All the best

      • Klyne says:

        Thank you for answering.

        I know that people understand it and I have very loving friends that deal with it when I happen to sleep in the same room as them. But it is way more complicated when I travel: I don’t want strangers to hear me sleep, so no sleep for me during 12 hours night flight.
        I know that my boyfriend sometimes hears me while wearing his earplugs and I wake him up. And he needs a total silence in order to fall asleep :/
        I decided to download a sleep app on my phone that records noises and analyses my sleep periods. There seems to be a link between light sleep and the noises I make.
        The more heavy/deep sleep I have, the less noise I make.

        I’d never recorded myself during night, and I’d never heard those noises. But now I know what it is like. I make loud really high pitched noises between groaning. And it is those high pitched noises that wake up people.

        I will talk about catathrenia with my doctor next time I see her.
        Thank you.

        • Hi Klyne
          You’re welcome. I do understand your worries, and it’s natural to be concerned about waking people up or disturbing them. Hopefully your doctor will have some ideas for you.

  21. Emma schroter says:

    My 8 yr old son has this problem. He has had it forever. I used to always go and check him thinking he was having nightmares or needed to go to the toilet. He’s so loud. School camp coming up next month and i’m so worried the other kids will hear him and tease him or he will scare them all. He’s a tall, fit healthy little man. Has anyone else have kids with this problem?

    • Hi Emma
      Thanks for your comment. I know there have been teenagers commenting in the past about this, but I don’t recall anyone talking about their kids. But there have been lot of comments, so I may have forgotten. Hopefully someone else reading this will reply to you, and maybe have some advice.
      Have you taken him to the doctor just to check that it is this, and not something else? And is it possible to ask the school about sleeping arrangements and see if he can sleep somewhere with just close friends who are less likely to bother him about it?

  22. Wilco says:


    I’ve been suffering for years from this disorder.
    For two years now I seem to have it under control. Searching the web I came across the Buteyko method. Did a course and from day one have been ‘cured’. The course leader suggested to put a paper band-aid over my mouth while sleeping. Seemed stupid and too easy a solution but I tried. No more symptoms from day one. Find your own Buteyko consultant and try. It works for me!
    Wilco, the Netherlands

    • Hi Wilco
      Thank you very much for your comment and fascinating suggestion of the Buteyko method. I don’t know much about that, but I’m sure other readers who are at their wits end with this disorder will appreciate a new avenue to investigate.

  23. Raymond says:


    I also experienced this type of moaning more than one year ago. It was just one night of sleep that I am moaning and I can clearly hear it. As soon as I hear it, I immediately woke up and then fall easily back to sleep again. My room mates heard it too. Just last week after I went from a vacation in my hometown, since I am working in the other country, my moaning went back again. Now, I am moaning every night and even during daytime when I fall asleep, so I tried to check it out in the internet and found this good site.

    Glad to know that this is not too serious disorder as of to date. I am moaning twice every time I went to sleep and immediately woke up after I hear it then fall back asleep.

    • Hi Raymond
      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found the site helpful. The main seriousness with catathrenia seems to be the embarrassment it can cause people when others hear it. If that’s not something which bothers you, then it’s much less of an issue.

  24. Victor says:

    Last night I experienced this for the first time. There were some kind of moaning sounds that happened when i exhaled. My brother (in the next room) had to wake me up to tell me about these noises. After I woke up, I realized that in my sleep, I could hear myself making these sounds so I got a little nervous and wanted to see if something was wrong so I came across this website and I just wanted wanted to make sure.

    • Hi Victor
      Thanks for your comment. It might be a good idea to monitor this for a few days and see if it was a one-off or not. If it continues to happen, then perhaps you could talk to your doctor about it. But you may find it was just a random night of strange breathing which doesn’t repeat. You can always try recording yourself sleeping to see if it repeats, or have your brother listen out and tell you if it happens again.

  25. Rob says:


    I am 32 and have had this condition/issue for many years. Most nights I apparently (because I’ve never heard it myself!) make either short bursts of moaning noises, or slightly more prolonged moans. My ex and also my current partner have reported this. However, she has informed me that all she does when it happens is tickle me gently on the back or sides. It makes me change position in my sleep, and doesn’t wake me up, but the groaning stops. Maybe give that a try? Hope it helps!

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your comment, and for the suggestion. I’m sure many readers who struggle with this condition will appreciate any practical tips which might help.
      And you could always try recording yourself sleeping so you can hear it for yourself.

  26. Chloe Ocaldo says:

    I’m eighteen and my friends & boyfriend have been complaining about me making rather sexual groaning noises in my sleep for a very long time. I am going to a music festival in a couple of days with a group of people I do not know very well and the thought came into my mind what happens if the groaning thing happens?! So I researched how to stop it and was met with this website. It’s somewhat reassuring to know it’s harmless but obviously it can prove very embarrassing at the best of times, however I really don’t want to scare off the people around me as they will either be really freaked out when I tell them, or just really take the mickey.
    Is there anything I can do to lessen the noise in my sleep, or just prevent it for a few days?
    Many thanks.

    • Hi Chloe
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having difficulty withe potential embarrassment of this. I can understand your worries about the festival. To be honest, I’m not sure I can offer any immediate solutions other than some practical ways to perhaps avoid them hearing it it happens. For example, try to camp in a noisier area so they don’t pay so much attention in the night, maybe try to fall asleep a little later than they do. I’m not sure really! It could be that at a festival you’re all so tired anyway that you sleep well without paying much attention to what’s happening around. I would also just try to take care of yourself at the festival. Don’t drink too much alcohol, keep well hydrated and eat well.
      Above all try not to stress about it. If you’re worried about them taking the mickey, maybe you could get in their first and make a joke out of it. If you own the joke, and take control of it from the outset, then it won’t be so appealing to them to take the mickey if they don’t think it will really bother you. Taking the mickey is only fun if you think you’ll get a reaction from the person:-)

  27. Palauan_Girl says:

    Okay so here’s my problem. You see it rarely happens during night time.Very once in a while i make long MMMmmmm sounds. it happens when i exhale ONLY. and it takes up to like 15-20 sec or more. my husband gets so annoyed. You see, it happens more often when i take naps on afternoons! it literally wakes me up and it takes me a few seconds to realize i’m making the sounds again when i go back to my nap. It’s so frustrating!!

    • Hi Palauan_Girl

      Thanks for the comment, and I can understand the frustration. I guess the most obvious solution which comes to mind if it is upsetting you is to try to avoid napping during the day. Is this possible for you?
      And if your husband is not coping well with the noises you make, then perhaps invite him to read this article. It might help to accept the fact that you’re not the only one, and that it doesn’t mean anything weird is going on. It’s just a part of who you are.

  28. Kate says:

    I’m 26 now and my friends informed me that I started moaning in my sleep when I was 16. They’ve all known me since childhood and they said that I didn’t make any noise when sleeping until 16.

    When I’m just dozing off and wake up I can hear the soft humming sound. It sounds like I’m making a long Mmmm noise during every exhale. And sometimes when I’m just waking up I can still hear myself hum/moan/groaning before I’m entirely awake and realize what I’m doing. My friends/roommates have told me that it happens every night and it gets louder and more sexual sounding once I’ve been asleep for a while. I told them that I’m not having sexual dreams and I don’t but recently, just within the past month or so, I’ve been waking up in a kind of aroused state that I can’t explain and I’m not sure what I should do about it?

    • Hi Kate

      Thanks for your comment, and I can understand how it must be concerning to have this new sensation accompanying the noises you make. It could just be coincidence. I imagine that with the history you have of making the noises, the temptation would be to link the two if you start waking up feeling aroused. my advice would be to try not to worry about it, and hopefully it will pass.

  29. ANTHONY says:


    • Hi Anthony

      Thanks for your comment. Hopefully your fire alarm is loud enough to cut through earplugs. If not, you can always experiment to find ones which block out unwanted sounds but which still allow certain sounds, like alarms through. There are lots of excellent earplugs which will allow that. You just have to experiment a bit with them.

  30. Kayla says:

    I googled noises while sleeping because she makes weird noises while she sleeps, and I think she has CATathrenia, lol. She is really loud though, and I think she has nightmares because she just wakes up hissing sometimes.

    • Hi Kayla,

      Thanks for your comment. Just out of interest, who is ‘she’. Is it a family member? And it could be that she is making noises in relation to her dreams, but this would be different from catathrenia, which would likely follow some kind of a pattern of making noises regularly whilst breathing.

  31. Diane says:

    Is this something that can be self-diagnosed or do I have to get a doctor to? A year or two ago my friends told me that I moan in my sleep, and for the past month I have recorded myself with an app and every night it never fails. It adds up to almost 5 minutes of recorded moaning.
    Anyway, I ask this because I’m filling out papers to find roommates for college (going to be my freshman year) and I’d like to let them know that I make noises. So can I say it’s catathrenia, or do I have to have a sleep study done or something?

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for your comment. To be honest I’m not sure where you stand on that front in terms of applying to college. I think there’s a difference between self-diagnosing for the purpose of finding home-remedies etc and telling other people or institutions that you have it. Do you have to actually write something so official? Can you not just say that you make noises in your sleep, so you need a roommate who can sleep through anything? That might be easier than telling people you have a ‘diagnosis’ which you may not even have, and which might put them off!

  32. Queen says:

    Hi Ethan.
    I’ve lived with my boyfriend for 3 years now and he has this breathing thing that occurs every night where he takes a breath and holds it, when he exhales, it makes a high shrieking noise and it goes on like that for about 10-15sec at a time, ALL night. He then quickly expels the remaining air through the nose and it’s back to the breathe-holding and shrieking high pitch sound. I wake him all the time because I keep thinking that he’s passed out and unable to breath or that he’ll hold his breath for too long and die in his sleep. I know it sounds ridiculous but it feels and sounds dangerous and it scares me almost all the time. Sometimes I try to ignore it but I end up with sleepless nights. I tend to have anxiety and/or insomnia sometimes and when I don’t have those, I have his shrieking and breathe-holding. Are there other ways of curing or dealing with it using home remedies because when he is ill he refuses to see a doctor, and because he doesn’t feel ill when this occurs he will definitely find a reason to not get checked. I suggested that he stops smoking but he’s been saying he’ll stop since we started dating. He also mentioned something about a heart condition that he got from his dad, I don’t know, please help I’m more frightend than annoyed by this.
    Kind Regards

    • Hi Queen,

      Thank you for your comment, and I can understand why you are both worried and upset by this situation. Guys can be incredibly stubborn sometimes, and it’s not unusual for health to be one of those areas we dig our heels in about.
      If he won’t get checked out for his own sake, do you think he might do it for yours? Have you told him calmly during the daytime (not in the middle of the night!) how much it is affecting you and making life that much harder for you? It’s not fair that you lose sleep and stay up half the night making sure he’s ok. I think if he cares about you, then he should listen and take you seriously. I certainly would if my partner told me I was upsetting them that much.
      I also think it would be a wise idea to get checked out by a doctor. Any breathing disturbances in your sleep can be potentially serious, so he should definitely get that checked out. He might be living with it at the moment, and be none-the-wiser because he’s asleep when it happens. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something important that needs addressing.
      Maybe he even knows that deep down, but is too scared or worried to find out from a doctor if he really does have a medical condition. If he already has a heart condition, then perhaps he’s worried that this would be another problem for him to have to think about.
      My advice would be to talk to him calmly and honestly at the right moment in the daytime, when you’re both feeling close and good together. And if that doesn’t work, you could even show him this comment!
      All the best

    • teetime says:

      This is an exact description of my nighttime antics. It happens to me almost always later in the night. I use a CPAP, which completely eliminates the problem. If I don’t use the machine, I do not rest well at all…and I wake up with severe headaches. It is imperative that I use the machine. I often record myself and I rest completely when using the CPAP.
      I have been doing this for nearly 25 years and only have recently (last couple of years) been able to put a name with the condition. When I got my sleep study done, the sleep doctor hadn’t even heard of Catathrenia. I’m so glad it’s being studied more.

      • Hi Teetime
        Thanks for your comment. It’s very interesting to hear from someone who has found a CPAP machine helps with the problem. Where did you get the sleep study done? I’m surprised a sleep specialist hadn’t heard of it!

  33. Aleksandria says:

    I am fairly certain that I have this sleeping disorder. My mother says that it has been going on my entire life. A lot of people in my family have some kind of sleeping disorder, be it insomnia, sleep apnea, etc. My sister in particular, though, seems to have this as well. Again, my mother says that it has gone on all of her life as well. That led me to wonder, can this sleeping disorder, catathrenia, be genetic or somehow caused at birth or during development?

    • Hi Aleksandria

      Thank you for your comment. Even just reading other peoples’ comment you would think that there is some anecdotal evidence for it being a hereditary sleep disorder. I’m not sure about it being caused at birth or during development. I couldn’t give you any specifics on that. But whatever the case, I guess the main thing is finding a way to either deal with it, or reduce the stress it might cause you should people complain about it. And that’s something hopefully you’ll be able to do.

  34. Savannah says:

    So you’re saying I will have this the rest of my life unless I get surgery? I’m 17 and I’ve had this since I was sucks because I have fears of spending the night at a friends house and them hearing me, thinking “What the heck is she doing”.I don’t like surgery. So I guess I’m kind of screwed, ain’t I?

    • Hi
      That’s not what I’m saying! I think maybe the best thing for you to do if it’s really upsetting you is to speak to your doctor about it. Firstly to confirm that you do in fact have this, and then secondly if they can either suggest anything which isn’t surgery, or refer you to a sleep specialist for further advice. Maybe between them they will have some suggestions which are also based on the knowledge of your personal medical history and current situation.

  35. Kayla Rogers says:

    My sister is 18 and she has been making these clicking and sucking noises for 4 years and she has not relized it but we both share a room with each other and I keep telling her to stop making the weird noises and she keeps getting louder and louder. What is the solution? What can I do to ignore her?

    • Hi Kayla,

      Thank you for your comment, and I can understand your frustration. The thing is, if she’s doing it in her sleep, she probably won’t be able to control it just by will-power, even if she wants to when you tell her to stop.
      There are two ways to look at this as I said in the article:
      1) She could try speaking to her doctor to get some advice.
      2) You can try to become less upset by the noise, or find a way to block it out. I do recommend earplugs as they are a cheap and effective way to block out noise. Or you could try listening to music on some headphones which you can sleep with.
      But also, if you accept that it’s a problem which is beyond her easy control, then hopefully you will become less annoyed by it. And if you are less annoyed, you will sleep better.
      I hope that helps a little!

  36. Bonnie says:

    My mother is 84 and has started this behavior within the last year. She moans and until she assured me she is not, I thought she was in pain in her sleep. She also talks in her sleep. Recently she has been worried that something is wrong with her . She says it’s not disturbing her sleep so I guess she is ok.

    • Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for your comment. I think with things like catathrenia, if that’s what it is, if it doesn’t bother her or anyone else, then it might be something you just have to live with. The same with sleep talking! But if it does worry her, or she has breathing difficulties, it might be a good idea to speak to a doctor.

  37. cristina says:

    I’m 18 and I just recently discovered that I make strange noises in my sleep. My sister was the first to point it out saying that it sounded like I was singing or humming. I thought it was because I fall asleep listening to music and so i tried to sleep without it but it still occurred. I’m worried since I live in a dorm room with two other people and that it will become an issue. Do you know if there’s been a situation where this has been solved without surgery?

    • Hi Cristina,

      Thanks for your comment. I think as I mentioned in the article, the best step is to visit a doctor. Before even thinking about surgery, you need to know whether you actually have this, or something completely different. I think people do manage to control the sounds they make in their sleep sometimes, but it might be a case of trial and error with different devices which might be otherwise recommended for snoring or apnea for example. But your doctor would be able to talk to you about this. Have your dorm mates said anything? Maybe it’s not as loud as you think, or maybe it doesn’t disturb them. If that’s the case, then like many people you might just be able to live with it, and perhaps it will resolve naturally over time.
      All the best

  38. Tracey Kryak says:

    I am quite impressed with SlumberNow CLIP simple little device. I can tell it’s helping because I no longer wake up with a totally dry, scratchy throat. If I forgot to put it in I really notice the difference. I’m super sensitive about any thing like this but it hasn’t caused any tenderness or irritation. I like the little case too otherwise it would be easy to lose. It’s pretty flimsy in that the hinge comes undone easily but hasn’t broken. Overall a very good product for little money.

  39. BB says:

    I also make these types of weird noises on exhaling during sleeping. My doctor scheduled a sleep study for me, will this test pick up if I have Catathrenia also or just the regular sleep apnea abnormalities?

    • Hi BB

      Thanks for your comment. If you are having it done in a sleep center, overseen by sleep specialists, then I would hope they would be able to identify exactly what is going on, yes.
      Good luck with it, and if you do find out something and have a moment to pop back, it would be great to hear from you again.

  40. Anne says:

    I like to ask if I have sleeping disorder, when I sleep at night I sometime moan but only once then I sleep through the rest of the night without moaning but the thing is that when I start to doze off sleeping, I moan then somehow my body feels relax and then I fall into a deep sleep.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately it’s not really my place to offer diagnoses of sleep disorders. To really find out, you would need to talk to your doctor who would have a full picture of your medical condition and current situation.
      Having said that, I’m not sure that moaning once when falling asleep falls into the category of any sleep disorder that I know of. It could be that it’s just the way you relax and fall asleep. Unless it’s causing you or anyone who sleeps with you problems, then I probably wouldn’t worry about it. But if it is, then talk to your doctor about it and see what they say.

  41. yvonne says:

    I have been moaning in my sleep and have occasional nightmares. I am only occasionally aware of it, usually when I first drift off to sleep. My husband says it started after my open heart surgery and at times is pretty loud. What do you think of my situation? y

    • Hi Yvonne,

      Thanks for your comment, though I’m not sure what to say about your situation unfortunately. It’s not unusual to have nightmares, even as an adult, especially following traumatic or stressful events. If it’s bothering you, then you could always take a look at my article giving advice about how to stop nightmares. With the moaning, I imagine it’s possible that if it’s been brought on by the stress of the surgery, it might settle down again in the future. But really the only person who can give you specific and individual advice based on your whole medical history is your own doctor. If it continues to disrupt you or your partner’s sleep, then it might be good to mention it to them.
      All the best and I wish you a speedy recovery.

  42. Lynne says:

    Hi Ethan, I am definitely getting myself a doctor’s appointment regarding making annoying noises while I am asleep. I am 48 and started about 4/5 years ago. I started a new exciting but slightly stressful job and it seemed to start then. I have been married for 25 years and my hubby never mentioned it before that.

    It is embarrassing if I have to share a room with a friend, in fact this year I did and when I woke up she threw a pillow at me. I haven’t shared a room with a friend since, I felt awful.

    I had to share with my daughter this week for a few nights, she kept prodding me, the next night I stayed awake until she was asleep.

    I wake myself up sometimes, its like I am agreeing with someone, sort of hmmmm hmmmm. I feel like taping my mouth up, maybe my whole face.

    I am so amazed its an actual condition and others have it, and can’t thank you enough for your article.

    • Hi Lynne

      Thank you for your comment, and I can understand the embarrassment. If you’ve read the other comments you’ll see that not only do others have it, they also find it stressful and embarrassing.

      With a little luck, if it only started after this major life change (the new job), then perhaps once you settle into it you’ll go back to sleeping the way you before. Stress is known to trigger many sleep problems, but they also often get better once the stress reduces.

      If your doctor has something to say about it, it would be very interesting to hear back from you if you have a moment.

      All the best

      • Lynne says:

        Hi Ethan, thanks for your response, I will kep you posted if the doctor gives me any interesting advise.

        • No problem Lynne. I hope it goes well, and it’s always interesting to hear what advice people receive, and I know other readers find it useful, so if you do have a moment to come back, that would be great.

  43. Charlie says:

    I researched about this because i am suffering from it. It is the second night that i am moaning when sleeping. i think of two reasons and thats just a conclusion, first maybe its because of a lot of stress. because recently i am sleepless. Second, the air pollution, last time i got stucked in a traffic and all the surroundings are filled with smoke from vehicles and all i can breathe is that smoke and even i covered my nose, i still inhaled the smoke. I became suffocated that time. then i got a severe cough. I feel itchiness of my lungs, after that, i am moaning when sleeping. What do you think may be the reason of it?

    • Hi Charlie,

      Thanks from your comment, though it sounds to me like it may not be catathrenia, but simply your lungs have taken a beating from all that pollution! Hopefully they will clear up soon, and you will stop making the noises again. Maybe if it’s still happening in a few days, consult your doctor to check there isn’t anything that needs treatment.

  44. Darren says:

    For as long as I can remember, I nearly always hum on my out breath during sleep. It’s not a moan or groan but a hum coming through my vocal cords, it drives my girlfriend mad and if she doesn’t wake me up in the night it does.
    At times I am aware I’m doing it but can’t stop unless I wake myself up, meaning I must be in a lighter sleep?
    A busy (stressful) week may make it louder or make me do it more regular but it generally happens every night.
    Does this sound similar to your article or is this something different?
    Would be grateful for a response,

    • Hi Darren,

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear that like many people you and your partner are both having disturbed sleep. Unfortunately it’s difficult to say whether it’s catathenia exactly or not that you have. Though most people don’t usually describe a hum, but more of a groaning noise in one way or another. If it’s really an issue and disrupting your lives due to the lack of sleep, then perhaps you could speak to your doctor about it and see if they can assess it, or send you to a sleep specialist. Otherwise it may sadly have to be something both you and your partner end up having to find a way to live with and sleep through.
      All the best

  45. Sneha says:

    Thanks for the article. I too have this problem and happy to learn that it’s harmless. I realised when my roommates told me about it. Sometimes even I wake up hearing this. I would like to share that even my grandmother had this…might be… genetic. And yeah whenever I have had a bad, stressful day the sound is loud.

    • Hi sneha,

      Thanks for your comment, and I”m glad you found the article helpful. I think a few people find it gets worse when they’ve had a stressful day…perhaps a good reason to do some nice, relaxing things at the end of those long days and see if that helps.

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