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, it could 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 sleep-related breathing disorders.

Up until 2013, it was classified as a parasomnia rather than a breathing disorder. But it was then moved to the breathing disorder category in the most recent International Classification of Sleep disorders manual, ICSD-3.

People who have catathrenia will typically breathe in deeply while sleeping. They then hold their breath for a short while. When they breathe out if may sound like a long groaning, moaning or shrieking noise.

The noise can last from a few seconds up to a minute. And at the end of the groan, they might make a secondary noise like a snorting, or they might also wake up.

The noise made can be very loud, and for some people can even sound like a sexual noise. This can be quite disturbing or annoying for other people in the household who hear it, not to mention embarrassing for the person making the noise.

Catathrenia usually occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, though can occur in other sleep stages. Most people report it happening later in the night, which mirrors the fact that there’s 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 can sleep through the noise, it can become an on-going source of frustration for both people.

Some researchers further suggest there could be sub-types of catathrenia, for example depending on whether the noise made on each out-breath is short or long.

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 which 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 is usually more of a social problem than 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.

Medical treatment

Many people don’t even realize they have catathrenia until a partner or someone sleeping in their house tells them about the noise. The first step is 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 overnight 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 apnea.

In that study though, 5 people also chose to have surgery later on. And of the 4 people that reported back later to the researchers, 3 needed an oral device as well.

It might sound like it was quite an ordeal for those in the study, but the good news is that all 4 were eventually cured of the catathrenia.

And in 2012, researchers gave 4 people from their group of 10 catathrenia sufferers a CPAP machine, finding that all of them has significantly less moaning events.

Blocking the sound

It seems then that using a CPAP machine is currently the most successful treatment offered. However, not everyone is comfortable with using one for years on end.

One alternative is for people who are being disturbed by the noise to take action. Wearing sleep earplugs could help in some circumstances, though possibly not if the sound being made is extremely loud.

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 bed. It might help if you’re hearing it from another bedroom in the same house, but not if you’re 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.

Readers’ tips

Several 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.

One or two have also offered the suggestion of avoiding sleeping on your back. Again, this doesn’t have research to back it up, but it’s worth trying out.

There have also been suggestions that it’s worse with stress and sleep deprivation. So try to stay on top of both your daily stress levels and make sure you get enough sleep.

I’d be very grateful if you could leave a comment to say if these ideas work for you, if you decide to try them or already have done. That way I can write in more detail about how often it helps people.

And if you have any other suggestions for coping mechanisms that might benefit other readers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

493 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I have been making weird moaning and groaning sounds in my sleep for over forty years now.Thank goodness it has a name, and I’m not the only one that has this problem.I also toss back and forth after each moan, I have to tell people when I’m staying over at their house so they don’t think I’m getting murdered or something.My husband wakes me if I’m too loud,so as he can sleep.

  • Hey I’ve just read this now my partner has been waking me up for awhile now and saying I’ve been making grudge like noises and when she does I feel a lack of breath any ideas? I didn’t think too much of it and tend to fall asleep straight away I’m just confused do I go see my doctor? I’m only 25

    • Hi Shannon
      If your partner, or you, notice you struggle to breathe or hold your breath in your sleep, then it’s worth getting checked for apnea.

  • I have chiari brain malformation and the worst problems after I fall husband is constantly waking me to tell me I’m making high pitched hooting wheezing sounds and I’ve tried snore spray, ear plugs for him..raising the bed pillows sleeping on my side and nothing seems to work idk what to do …my sounds are from the damage to my brain stem from the chiari.. chiari is a rare condition where the hole in the skullis too small for my big brain and my brain protudes out the back of my skull pressing down on my brain stem causing so many other issues

  • this has just started with me. I moan in my sleep, or rather just as I am about to fall asleep. Started a few weeks after being diagnosed with COPD. I am not fully asleep when it happens, just at that drowsy about to drop off to sleep stage. As far as I know, since I am single, that is the only time at night that it happens. If it happens at other times during the night I am unaware of it. It is the same sound I would make during occasional nightmares when I was trying to yell out but couldn’t. I would make this same moaning sound that would wake me up. I always sleep on my side so that would not make a difference for me. I have tried sleeping sitting up and it doesn’t make any difference in it, I still sleep moan. My doctor is ordering a sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea, since I am not sleeping well and feel constant fatigue.

    • Omg! I’m experiencing the same thing. Before it began I just woke up gasping for a huge breath, like if I had been underwater and surfaced for air. I really scared my husband. The moaning happens every now and then for just a few secs but today it was all night and I kept doing it and waking up. I got really scared. I hope all goes well in your sleep study. As for me, I’ll bring this up in my upcoming physical in 2 weeks. Best of luck!

  • My husband has done this for years, but now it’s getting worse. He falls asleep as soon as he sits down anywhere and starts to moan. It’s especially embarrassing at church! It has been a very stressful month and it does get worse with stress, but now in addition to the sleep noises, he has a terrible cough that has lasted over a month and won’t go away. I am curious if anyone else has experienced this and if it could be related somehow. He has been to a dr. and was given an antibiotic, and cough medicine, but neither seemed to help in the least. He still has these coughing fits and one time even passed out from coughing so hard. That’s about the time the Catathrenia got really bad again. Anyone else dealing w/ a cough/phlegm in addition to the sleep noises?

    • Hi Jennifer
      I would go back to the doctor and/or seek a second opinion just to be on the safe side.

    • This is exactly what is happening to me. I am having larynx spasms that feels like I have to gasp for air though a straw. Nothing helps but water and cough drops.

    • My spouse has had a residual dry cough since November as well as a couple of respiratory illnesses/infections. Also in 35+yrs being married, I have been a daily witness to the dozing off at any given time or place…other than activities that seemed to keep the heart rate high. Recent (March) was treated w/antibiotic as well as given an x-ray to rule out pneumonia, but instead revealed an abnormal image. Scheduled then to have c t scan and then to be seen by a pulmonologist. Up to this point, additional blood work eliminated a few possibilities and dr is leaning towards one of the interstitial lung diseases. Biopsy (a most invasive, radical type) will be required to determine definitively which one. After a round of steroids and a cough medicine all of the symptoms had seemed to have gone into remission, but nearly a wk ago have returned, only now cough is producing a lot of phlegm and noticing odd noises as he sleeps. These days lungs are exposed to so many toxins in our homes and workplaces, things like molds from a variety of sources indoors as well as out, cleaning chemicals, occupational and excessive household dust, asbestosis, etc. And it’s no secret what 1st and 2nd hand smoking will do for you.

    • Please see a Pulmonologist… my husband recently had the same problem and has been diagnosed with interstitial lung disease and started on steroids. They did a CAT scan of the chest and pulmonary function tests to diagnose it. Hope this helps.

  • I’m 32 and have sleeped talked sin childhood, mostly when I was stressed or had very vivid dreams. I started sleep groaning at 27 while pregnant around the end of my second Trimester and hasn’t stopped since. Some nights its better, some nights worse. Stress usually plays a key factor as well as exhaustion. My husband sleeps through it so its not an issue for me except when for qhatever reason I have to share a room while away on a conference. I do drink coffee on a daily basis although I have been cutting down. It does seem to be louder and happen more when sleeping onmy back but can also happen when on my side. Pillows don’t make a difference. I ocasionally drink alcohol and haven’t noticed if it makes things worse. When I’m very tired I can snore as well. My husband is a doctor, says it doesn’t serm to be sleep apnea however I will for sure book a sleep apnea test. My one question is: If I do not have sleep apnea and am diagnosed with catathrenia is there anything medically that can be done about it that helps besides using a c-pap machine for the rest of my life?

  • I’ve dealt with this for decades, really bad, sounds like the demons from hell and scares my fiance, she thinks one day I’ll be hovering up by the ceiling. Im 60 and been doing this for decades , it is stress related and anxiety due to excessive caffeine, alcohol intake, i quit drinking 12 yrs ago and experience of insomnia, i tell you if you have ways of dealing with your nerves it will lessen, brisk walking, seven blossoms tea and vitamin b complex stress formula only the other types of b complex make it worse STRESS FORMULA. IF YOU LACK SLEEP AND OVERLY TIRED IT MAKES IT WORSE. TRY NOT TO SLEEP ON YOUR BACK !

  • I rarely do this in bed but, instead it happens if I fall asleep in my recliner. Mine is not real loud, but it does wake me up most of the time. Mine is a humming like catch in my throat like I don’t want to cough. It can also just be stammered humming. The really funny thing is, it is often a low laugh. It is embarrassing but, I don’t know when or why it’s going to happen!

  • I’m here today cause even as a child I made weird humming noises in my sleep only to wake up to my mom standing in yhe doorway asking if I was “active.” I just woke up from a nap, for today was one of those days I felt very fatigue, and just tired. I just can’t get enough rest today and now the day is over!!! Well, I did some humming, and moaning, and then I googled…. And this came up…. And chuck, I’m on magnesium lol and vitamin b6 and other meds for I started randomly having non epileptic seizures last may with high anxiety and severe migraines. So yeah!!! This is an interesting read! Which led me here today!

  • I started this weird moaning after I had the left lobe of my thyroid removed. My vocal cord on that side got cut and it is now paralyzed. After I learned to talk again, I started making some funny noise as my body was relaxing and falling asleep. Then it progressed into these moaning sounds. Sometimes they were softer moans and other times they got pretty loud. Sometimes they would taper off after I was fully asleep, but other times it could be loud and go on for hours. I’ve actually heard myself doing it too. My roommate would stand outside my door and howl because she thought it was so funny and used to joke that I had snuck someone in my room to have sex. My partner though said it sounded to him like I was having nightmares so, concerned, he always woke me up. This is REALLY embarrassing and I don’t know what to do about it.

  • I too a 30yrs old male has the problem others have…. It scared me bad…. Glad to know I’m not alone with this issue…. I can always hear myself groaning and moaning as if I’m saying “help” in my sleep… I only wake up when my better half awakes me….. I have been stressed to the max…. I was also thinking that I’m having a spiritual battle goin on when this occurs based on the events in my life and the dreams I have afterwards….. I will try these recommendations and pray it helps us all…. Stay blessed ppl

    • I am very stressed at the moment and sometimes wake up by these groaning noises or a cough as I’m struggling to breathe. My son always knocks on my door to wake me up as he can hear me. Sometimes I am having a nightmare and have been trying to shout help but the sound is not coming out of my mouth and I can’t move so I just make dentist has noticed I grind my teeth during sleep.
      I didn’t sleep on a long haul flight or by the pool as I’m too embarrassed.

  • I’m 19 and this horrible noises has been going on for ages, my roommates in school find it hard to sleep at first but later they tend to ignore the noise. Even at that it gets me worried all the time i dont what i can do to stop it because of this i dont sleep over at a friends place or even go for camps because i know i will disturb their sleep, pls i really need a solution

    • Hi Lily,

      I’m not affiliated with this site, nor am I a doctor, nor trained to offer medical advice. But I am very aware of your condition and based on my own knowledge, I want to offer you the following advice.

      Try taking a magnesium supplement 30m before bed. You can buy two kinds of magnesium supplements at most grocery or pharmacy chain stores: magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. The dosage on the bottles of an oxide version will be much higher than citrate versions. I’ll recommend trying citrate first.

      Walmart sells bottles of 100mg magnesium citrate in capsule form. Try taking two 100mg capsules before bed each night.

      You can read the story I posted about my wife posted below. She used to take 1200mg of magnesium oxide before bed to help resolve the same issue you report. After some recent studying on my part, she has now switched to magnesium citrate. In general, magnesium absorption from pill form is rather difficult. So in my wife’s case, taking 1200mg of magnesium oxide only yielded probably 10% of that (so 100-200mg). I believe magnesium citrate has a much better absorption rate…so you can take less.

      If 200mg of Magnesium Citrate 30m before bed works for you, please reply back here some time soon and let us all know.

      Kind regards,


  • Yea laugh at this one been awaking myself up lately bye going aawoo or more like aaaawwoooooo just like a Wolf Just this winter inside at home!!!!
    Avid camper if this happens this year camping people are either going to be frightened or if there close enough they will think I’m a idiot jokester.

  • For probably the last 8-10 years, my wife would make various grunting/groaning/moaning sounds several nights a week, especially during the first few hours after getting to sleep. The best characterization I can give for much of the sound she made was that it was similar to what you’d think a woman might sound like (moaning with mouth closed) while having an intense sexual encounter (seriously). She would also often take a breath, then slowly release the breath while making these crazy sounds…almost as if someone was shutting her air off periodically while she was exhaling through her nose.
    At one point about 1-2 years ago, she started taking a magnesium supplement to help reduce headaches we thought were caused by stress. Amazingly, we soon noticed her noise-making was reduced a bit. Knowing this supplement was the only thing she really changed, we then played with the dose. She now religiously takes about 1250 mg about 30m before bed and she is quiet as a cucumber. On the few nights over the past year or so where she forgets, the groaning sounds almost always return that very night and I end up having to wake her up.
    Tonight, she forgot (again) and it made me recall seeing this web page a few years ago while were trying to research what she had going on. I was always meaning to come back here eventually and share what worked for us. So, if magnesium works for you, thank my wife for forgetting to take her magnesium tonight…which reminded me to come back here and make this post.
    Catathrenia was a real strain on our 30-year marriage. Thankfully for us, it is really easy to keep it in check.
    Regarding magnesium – you really can’t overdose on a reasonable dosage. 1200mg (five 250mg pills) seems optimal for my wife. Since everyone is different, maybe you need more or less. About the worst thing you can have happen from an excess is a loose stool. For her, this normally happens if she takes about 1500mg. If you end up with this problem, just cut back.
    It is my opinion that alcohol and caffeinated beverages wash a lot of the magnesium you take in with meals – out of your body. I believe a lot of people who take in either would feel better if they took a magnesium supplement to avoid a deficit. Magnesium is an extremely important mineral that so many of your body’s critical operations require to function. It is also dirt cheap and there is no need to buy a fancy brand. Walmart has a good product.

    • Hi Chuck
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your suggestions. Interestingly, on other articles readers have suggested magnesium supplements help with their sleep problems too. I might have to add this one to the article as it might help someone else.
      However, I think it’s important to point out that excessive magnesium supplementation is thought to carry risks too. The wedmd website, for example, advises “350 mg/day for adults and children ages 9 and up”. It’s also thought that we can easily get enough magnesium through eating a balanced diet. So perhaps the key to what you mentioned is in ensuring we eat enough, and don’t do things that can reduce the quantity our body can use.


      • Hi Ethan.

        I hope you do add this to your tips. I’m very convinced that it will help a lot of people. Of course, its always good to be cautious when supplementing. No dispute here. Eating better is great advise, but many of these people are very desperate for something that works.

        Magnesium deficiency is a big problem in America.

        If anyone is curious, my wife is 50-years old, 5′-8″ /140, a non-smoker, and a non-drinker. For the past two years, she has worked as a waitress/server in a very busy restaurant and is known for running circles around people half her age, often working 10-hour shifts without a break, 4 days a week. My point is that she is in very good health and not overweight at all.

        But she also reminded me today of another problem magnesium seemingly solved for her. For many years, she was not able to take a deep, cleansing breath. She said that this problem also went away with her regular 1250 mg dose of magnesium before bed.

        As far as I know, potassium and sodium are required for muscle contraction, while magnesium is required for muscles to return to the relaxed state. A deficiency in magnesium plays all sorts of havoc…muscle spasms, twitches, etc.

        So we’re just guessing that she needs more magnesium than the average person. No noticeable downside for her over the past couple of years, but plenty of upside.

        One final thought…I believe the same agency of the US government that recommends 350mg of magnesium is also responsible for the awful food pyramid. :)


        • Hi Chuck
          Thanks for adding this extra information – I’m sure some readers will find it very interesting. I’ll definitely do some more research into this possible factor when I come to update the article in the near future. I didn’t know that fact about the quantity of Americans who apparently get under the recommended amount of magnesium in their diet, and will look into that a bit more too.

          • I’ve come to learn that magnesium absorption via supplemental pills is quite difficult. Somewhere, I read that only 10-20% of pill form can expect to be absorbed. That means my wife is likely only yielding 125-250mg of the 1250mg ingested.

            No doubt, dietary magnesium (as you suggest) should be the goal.

            People should also be aware of this condition: hypomagnesemia.


  • I used to sleep talk and struggle sleeping at night unless i had music and a light on as a child….then as i got older i found i was sleeping better…until I moved in with my boyfriend.
    He is a light sleeper and for the past two years we havent been able to sleep in the same room due to me making noises in my sleep – he was convinced it was my fault, how i slept, stress and snoring, so he kept buying me all different snoring devices and sprays etc but nothing worked .
    Only recently he said that it isnt a snoring noise more humming and groaning! which when researching I found this sleeping condition! I am off to the doctors next week to see if they can help now I know more about it. But what other steps should I be taking? Just want to be able to share a bed with my boyfriend!

  • I’m so glad to hear this is a medical disorder. My girlfriend has been accusing me of having sexual dreams and nothing could be further from the truth. I awake completely unaware that I was moaning and groaning or shreiking out. This has caused a rift in our relationship…. I’ve tried to explain that it must be from aches and pains…she is not believing it. I’m at a loss for what to do…. Brad

    • Can’t believe I’m reading this stuff,my wife has been accusing me of having a affair because I’m making sexual moans in my sleep,really loud noises n I say bs I’m not dreaming of anybody’s if I was I would be moaning for her n she laughs n says bs,thanks everybody,looks like I’m gonna stay married

  • My husband has catathrenia he sounds like Chewbacca on steroids. I can’t sleep with him and he’s so loud it wakes the entire household. We all use a fan in our room at night so we have a white noise to soften the howling otherwise we couldn’t sleep at all. He couldn’t stay at someone’s house because of this condition and when we go away he has to have his own hotel room- though lord knows what other guests must think. His father had it too. It definitely gets more pronounced during times of stress when I’ve noticed he includes words or screams not just the howling. Even though I know to expect it, it can be so loud and abrupt I sometimes jump with fright – even cry with the tiredness and frustration it causes. short of plotting to hold a pillow over his face I just chalk it up to another thing my husband does to make my life a misery?

  • My husband makes chewing noises when he sleeps and he snores too. The chewing noises really gross me out 😕 I have a major pet peave about eating with your mouth open and that fits right in there. It’s so hard to take some nights…

  • I wake up a lot during the night, but the moaning occurs exclusively in the morning. This started after I had a brain injury. But I also sleep on my back and have clogged sinuses. I will try sleeping on my side. Good to know this works for people.

  • This sort of thing has been happening to me a lot lately and its caused pretty big problems as a result. Quick relevant info, I have a girlfriend who works third shift so I will often end up staying up all night or ill just have really odd sleep patterns.

    I live with my parents and sometimes usually really early in the morning im awoke to my mom or dad screaming at me in my room claiming im making crazy noises, to which im not at all aware of. They seem to be convinced im taking drugs and i guess im just really high. (if this were the case i think id be out cold and I think i might just start taking loads of Zzquil to just go bnack to sleep. Anyways…this seems to be a problem when im super tired and im open to any advice.

  • My boyfriend usually snores really loud but you can tell his breathing is off. very recently has he begun to moan and whimper in his sleep, along with it sounding like he’s almost holding his breath then taking in quick breaths. It’s concerning to listen to, but I never really wake him up because he just continues to do it when he falls back to sleep. It’s interesting to see an article with some reasons as to what this may be.

  • A friend in her bedroom I woke her up as I was making strange noises then I woke up but my chest feel very tight still after waking up I woke up and I was on my side?

  • I have this problem too. It started about a month ago. My mum says I groan almost every night. And I walk myself up sometimes. Almost as if I’m trying to talk. I think it may be stress related because in the past month, I have gone through alot and I am having a hard time trying to cope.

  • Hi all,
    I’m 23 and have had this for as long as I can remember. Family and friends have commented on it since I was little but it’s never really been disturbing enough to look into. Now, my current partner is a light sleeper and some nights I keep him up for hours, (gererally more towards early hours of the morning). When I’m woken up about it I often feel like I’ve just been holding my breath a lot, but I never really hear myself making the creepy grunge noises that I do. We’ve tried everything from changing sleeping positions, pillows (or having no pillow), even thought it could be dehydration related and kept a class of water by the bed to drink if I was doing it. Sometimes one of these helps but overall nothing works consistently. Last night I tried breathing in and out deeply to get rid of the tight chest feeling but I could feel that as soon as I feel back asleep I’d do it again.
    I’d like to try yoga/Pilates as apparently it can improve breathing habits and hopefully this will minimise the occurrence. Does anyone here do these sports?
    Also, I have a feeling this could be anxiety related. Thoughts??


    • Hi Jessica
      Have you spoken to a doctor about it to make sure it’s not sleep apnea? It might be a good idea if it’s been an ongoing problem for such a long time.
      On another note, if you do feel it’s made worse by anxiety, doing yoga is also great for anxiety. I do it regularly, and find it makes a big difference to my stress levels, especially when I do it before going to bed.

  • my issue is that I make a “hmmm” sound as I am falling asleep. I can hear it through my ear plugs as well and it keeps me awake. It is almost like a paralysis state because I will make the noise, wake up and think, “did I just do that?” I don’t feel as though a physically made a noise, but I can hear it. It is becoming a bigger and more frequent ordeal. I am 43 and in the best shape of my life, but I am becoming physically and emotionally exhausted

    • I have the same issue as I’m falling asleep. It’s a short hmm sound. I find that if I’m really exhausted and stressed it happens more often. Maybe not being able to turn the brain off is affecting the breathing. I find myself subconsciously trying to slow my breathing when I have a hard time falling asleep. I’m glad I found this site.

      • These sites are always frustrating since people go to them when they have a problem but not when they fix the problem.

        My data point. I am also 43, and in the past couple of months, I have woken myself up at the verge of sleep with constricted throat snorts. Last night was the first time I had the hum issue where as I was falling asleep, I’d hum. I have been taking the active ingredient in NyQuil to help me sleep. I am also, yes, under a lot of stress… but that’s been the case for a while.

  • When I first awaken in the morning, I groan and moan (this is what my family members told me) and I do not even realize I’m doing it and I don’t think I am purposely trying to make the noise. I do not know if this is the same problem as catathrenia, because as stated on this site catathrenia occurs when FALLING asleep and my moaning occurs when WAKING up. It is very very embarrassing and I would like to know what to do to make it stop. Help?

  • My husband says it only occurs when I’m sleeping on my back. It never happens when I sleep on my side.

  • I moan in my sleep apparently started about 5 to 6 years ago. Im 29 now. I found out when i went for a sleep over at my best friends. They made a joke about how i must have been have “a wet dream” of sorts. Was so embarassing. And another time at my mum’s. She had to wake me up and ask what was wrong with me. I can even afford to sleep on a bus or plane cause caught myself moaning a couple of times. Please if anyone knows of anything that has worked for them please share. Now dread falling asleep especially when other people are around.

  • I also snore and make very funny noises I am told. I find it worse when I have stress or deadlines to make. I have a very understanding husband, but feel so bad and wish I could find a solution. Sleeping on my sides does not help. Some nights are worse than others/ I have tried everything I eat early if I am at an occasion have one drink early and stop. Anyone with any solutins let me know.


  • I discovered I’ve got this as I’ve been using a sleep talking app to track if I’m snoring. I’ve got sleep apnea but had the big operation where they take the tonsils out, cut the top of the soft palette and move it, and laser the tongue so it shrinks. Sleep apnea is a lot better, but the groaning persists. I didn’t know it was a ‘thing’ until reading this. Good to know I’m not strange!!!

  • My husband tells me if I fall asleep on my back I make groaning sounds for a good ten minutes or so then it becomes light snoring which will usually wake me but if I fall asleep on my side I don’t have any symptoms apparently I have done this for a few decades 😃.

  • My Mum had this, not medically diagnosed but for years in the morning I’d tell her what it was like I even recorded the noise once. Unfortunately she’s not around to tell me I’m being stupid or “I dunno what you’re talking about baby girl it ain’t always that bad” but it was, funny I spent a long time telling her she made that noise n now I would do anything to hear her make it again.

  • In the army and let’s just say people from different parts of the country know I have this issue. Embarrassment washes over me when I wake up in the barracks and have my higher ranks confront me on the situation.

  • i was diagnosed at 28 with catathrenia. it really is the most annoying sleep disorder. for a year or so i never even knew about it, it was my partner that noticed, then my friend when we went on holiday. but now it wakes me up constantly every night 4am onwards. i must groan so loudly that it wakes me up. i also feel short of breath. i have been told it isn’t sleep apnea. i went for a sleep study but didnt sleep either but did get it diagnosed from this. if anyone has found anything that works for them for catathrenia i would love to know. sleeping on my side, raised pillows etc does nothing for me. so frustrating!!


  • My husband seems to do this moaning when he lies on his back. Would one of those breath right strips on top of his nose be of any help? It really doesn’t bother me, but I worry that it may hurt his health.

  • I’ve tried to raise my pillows at various levels, all the way to the point where I was sleeping while sitting upright. Unfortunately none off that worked. I also primarily sleep on my side, so that doesn’t sell to work for me either.

  • I’ve been experiencing something like this for a while but I fell asleep in class the other day and I started making a sexual moaning sound & I woke up to everyone stairing at me, including the teacher. SO EMBARRASSING

  • Hi all. I’ve had these symptoms for years now. I find that if I’m really tired and going to sleep on my back I’ll defiantly make noises that will wake me up just as I’m falling asleep. My wife notices it as well. I manage it by sleeping on my side. It never seems to happen when I do this, onley when I’m on my back.

    I’ve. Ever really thought much of it until now. It’s interesting reading people similar stories.

  • I have found i make the noise when I am sleeping at a friends house over night and my body has a hard time getting comfortable and falling asleep….

  • I occasionally hum in my sleep. I take a deep breath in and exhale very slowly with a meditative long hum. Then repeat over and over. Sometimes I wake myself slowly with it, bringing myself into consciousness, other times I don’t wake. What I do know is when I am am distantly aware of it, it is incredibly soothing. I also notice the soothing of the vocal vibrations against the mattress or pillow. I typically do this when sleeping prone, on my stomach. And I associate this with wonderful soothing deep sleep. There is no gasping, moaning or choking. It isn’t sexual. I truly think on a subconscious level it is self soothing. At least for me it is a positive experience. My husband finds it endearing and doesn’t want to wake me from my apparently very good sleep.

  • I have seem to be making moaning intimate type noises when I’m sleeping that literally can go for hours. My boyfriend moved in and said this is what I’ve been doing, I didn’t believe him until I used a sleep recording app. I def suffer from fatigue during the day also. This is causing major relationship issues as he is awake most of the night. Please help is there anything I can do. I also use to sleep walk a lot as a child and I to my early twenties which seems to have stopped I wonder is this all linked?

  • My husband makes awful sounds as he is trying to get to sleep. He is aware he is making the sounds but it is involuntary. It is loud, sounds like moaning or the sound made when trying not to cough. Once he is truly asleep the noises stop. It goes on for 30+ minutes every night.

  • With being diagnosed with a sleeping disorder of restless leg syndrome during my first sleep study during my time in the military, I was frustrated with this diagnosis! I have always made strange noises as I sleep. Being 27 years of age it has even bothered my wife of 5 years health! With extremely loud moans and chewing on my tongue, not hard enough to cause damage. I do not get restful nights and experience very little dreams leading me to believe my R.E.M. Sleep is being disturbed! I am looking for some help in being diagnosed correctly! I am in pretty good shape. Eat fairly well and am active as that I am a firefighter. If any one can guide me I would be so grateful!

    • Hi Jimmy
      I just wanted to say that I don’t publish people’s emails – sorry! Perhaps readers will reply to you here though? And have you thought about asking your primary care doctor to refer you for another sleep study? If you don’t agree with your diagnosis, perhaps a second opinion will help. You can also record yourself sleeping to play the audio to your doctor.

  • The last 2 MORNINGS while waking up I’ve made the noises like a HORSE with my lips and mouth!the “BbBbBbbbb”sound? It’s kinda funny however I hope nothing is wrong … 😳

  • So pleased to find this site as I experience this but only when I have a really bad cold and flu symptoms. I hear what sounds like a weird groaning old woman murmuring or groaning and it wakes me up because I wonder what it is and then am horrified when I realise it is me : (

  • Hi my name is Lashay and im 27 years old. Iv only recently have had this going on with me. My boyfriend of two years now has pointed it out saying I do this exact thing with the noises,very loud and sounds like im having a swx dream. Iv also noticed waking up to yhese noises and sometimes choking because I cant breathe. It scares him and me especially since im four months pregnant. Iv found I do this almost every night or whenever I fall asleep mostly when im on my back. I jerk also and wake myself and him up. Iv found that sleeping elevated or on my side helps with the noises and breathing but not so much with the body jerks. It was nice to know that theres information out there though about this I was starting to het worried.. umm I shouldnt be though..right?

    • Hi Lashay
      Thanks for your comment. Based on what you’ve said, I think it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, just to make sure you don’t have a form of apnea.

  • I woke myself up last night groaning and more of a chanting for it seems to happen when I’m stressed I was laying on my side when I woke up

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