Catathrenia – Are You Making Strange Noises While Sleeping?

man with catathrenia making noise in his sleep with woman looking at him

Has anyone ever told you that you make strange noises in your sleep? Perhaps your partner intentionally wakes you up because the noise is disturbing them, and a conversation along these lines ensues:

“You’re making that noise again.”

“What noise?”

“You know, that weird groaning sound that goes on for ages. I can’t sleep when you do that!”

It would need a medical diagnosis to be completely sure, but if this sounds familiar, it could be that you have catathrenia.

What is Catathrenia?

Sometimes known as nocturnal groaning, catathrenia falls under the category of sleep-related breathing disorders in the third edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-3).

During an episode of catathrenia, people will typically inhale deeply while sleeping and then hold their breath for a short while. When they exhale, they might make a groaning, moaning, or shrieking noise.

The noise emitted was found in a study to last between two and 50 seconds on average. At the end of the groan, the person might make a secondary noise like snorting, and it’s possible that they wake themselves up too.

Research has shown that catathrenia usually occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep during the second part of the night, but can occur in other sleep stages too.

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

How common is catathrenia?

Catathrenia is thought to be relatively rare. So much so, that researchers in the USA suggested that many otolaryngologists and sleep specialists are unfamiliar with it.

The researchers also discussed two interesting studies that demonstrate how uncommon it is. In the first, just 25 of 15,052 patients (0.17%) who went to a sleep center in Japan during a 10 year period had catathrenia. And in the second, 4 of 1,004 patients (0.4%) who underwent a sleep study in Norway had it.

Benign, but sometimes a nuisance or embarrassing

The noise made can be very loud, and for some people can sound sexual in nature. This can be disturbing or annoying for other people in the household who hear it, and embarrassing for the person making the noise when they are told what they were doing in their sleep.

People with catathrenia may experience it for many years, and research suggests that some may have regular episodes during that time. Unless their partner can sleep through the noise, it can become a source of frustration for both people.

In the hundreds of comments below this article that people have written since it was first published, there are many stories of coping with the embarrassment or stress of the noise.

Other than being a ‘social nuisance’, sleep researchers consider catathrenia to be a benign condition that doesn’t cause any other negative effects. Some people report feeling sleepy or tired during the daytime, but it’s not clear if that’s a direct result of their catathrenia.

What Catathrenia isn’t

As it’s not a very common sleep disorder, catathrenia is sometimes confused with other sleep disorders or health issues. So it’s important to understand that it isn’t any of the following:

  • Snoring. Catathrenia takes place when exhaling, whereas snoring usually takes place when inhaling. However, some people do snore on the exhale, so this isn’t a perfect way to tell the difference. Interestingly, researchers in 2010 found that the sound produced in catathrenia is laryngeal, while snoring is guttural.
  • 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.
  • Sleep talking. Despite the fact that catathrenia can sound more vocal than snoring, it isn’t the same as sleep talking either.
  • Moaning that occurs during epileptic seizures.
  • Related to any other breathing disorder.

When forming a diagnosis, a medical professional would want to rule out the above possibilities, particularly serious conditions like apnea and epilepsy.

What causes catathrenia?

The exact cause of catathrenia is still unknown. Unfortunately, there just hasn’t been as much research on catathrenia as many other sleep disorders, especially those that are thought to have more serious consequences if unmanaged.

The American Sleep Association discusses studies showing that there’s a similarity in the jaw sizes of people who have it – they all apparently have small jaws. They also say that 14% of patients have been found to have a family history of it, so there may be a genetic component. And 43% in one study had a history of parasomnias, such as sleep talking in childhood.

Despite the lack of understanding as to what causes catathrenia, it’s interesting that a treatment that has been found to help in some studies (see below) is a CPAP machine, which is also used for sleep apnea.


Many people don’t even realize they make the noise until a partner or someone sleeping in their house tells them.

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, or you might be asked to have an overnight sleep study in a sleep center.

Following this there are two main ways to approach the treatment:

  1. Helping the patient stop the noise.
  2. Helping their partner cope better with any noise that disturbs them.

Currently, there isn’t a clear treatment that’s thought to work for all patients with catathrenia, and no medication that’s been proven to work. Interestingly, however, the researchers in 2017 made some recommendations for possible future treatment research avenues.

They say:

Direction for further research could involve consideration of deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or myofunctional therapy to help abate symptoms.

In surveys they included in their study, the most common comorbid medical conditions were anxiety and depression, which perhaps explain why those techniques could be helpful. So if this applies to you, perhaps it’s worth trying self-help, or reaching out for professional help if you haven’t already.

Their data also suggests that alcohol use, smoking, and recreational drug use could be factors to consider. Perhaps you could experiment with reducing or quitting these substances, if it applies to you, to see if that helps.

They also suggested that swimming could be a factor as 9 out of 47 (19.2%) participants were regular swimmers. If you’re a swimmer, perhaps keep an eye on whether your catathrenia symptoms are worse on days you’ve been in the water.

Successful treatment with a CPAP machine

Researchers at Stanford University found in a study of seven patients that a Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) machine helped resolve the nocturnal groaning for all of them.

A CPAP machine delivers air gently through the nose to keep the airways open and is regularly used by people who have apnea.

woman sleeping while connected to a cpap machine

In that study, five people also chose to have surgery later on. Four of the seven people attended a follow-up with the researchers, and three of them had decided to have an oral device fitted to help them in that time as well. All four reported that they no longer had catathrenia symptoms.

In 2020, researchers in Peking gave CPAP treatment to 49 people with catathrenia. They concluded that it’s an effective treatment, though did add that it couldn’t be eliminated completely.

In 2020, researchers published a case study of a patient with catathrenia who was successfully treated with the lowest CPAP pressure settings.

The researchers explained that CPAP machines are known to be problematic for some people as they simply don’t like wearing them in bed. They suggest that perhaps only needing the lowest setting might make it easier for people to continue using.

They say in their study:

…catathrenia is an uncommon disorder characterized by a distinct breathing pattern in which CPAP treatment seems to be effective but its utility is limited by poor patients acceptability. Setting CPAP pressures to control cathatrenia events (leaving aside flow limitation) could be related to better CPAP compliance.

Blocking the sound

woman blocking her ears in bed while a man sleeps

It seems then that using a CPAP machine is currently the most successful treatment offered. However, not everyone finds them comfortable enough to wear in the long term.

Another option for couples that might be worth exploring until a solution is found is for the partner who is disturbed by the noise to try and block out the sound. Wearing earplugs could help in some circumstances, though possibly not reduce the sound completely if it’s very loud.

It might help if you’re hearing it from another bedroom in the same house, but perhaps not if you’re right next to the person making the groaning noises.

Another option is to use headphones and listen to music or white noise if you enjoy that. Good noise-cancelling headphones might add an extra boost to the sound masking too.

Ultimately though, blocking the noise won’t help the person who has catathrenia, other than giving them some peace of mind in knowing that their partner can sleep through it. Seeking a professional medical diagnosis and treatment is always going to be the best option in the long run.

Readers’ tips

Several readers have commented that raising their pillows helps stop the groaning sounds. I haven’t seen this published as a recommended treatment, but it’s interesting that readers think it helps and might be worth trying as a quick self-help technique.

Some have also offered the suggestion of avoiding sleeping on your back. Again, this doesn’t have research to back it up, but it’s an easy and free method to try – it also helps some people with snoring.

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.


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  1. I thought I was imagining it. My husband says I sound like SpongeBob when he squeaks. It is getting worse as it wakes me up then I can’t get back to sleep as all. I can hear is this noise. My doctor keeps saying that I have nasal nose drip. I will be hoping to get an appointment to discuss this. I hope a remedy can be found as I know I couldn’t sleep with a cpap machine.

  2. My husband and I have been together for going on 12 years. Tonight we’re going to sleep apart for the first time. I mean, we’ve been apart, but sleeping apart in the same house.
    He makes these reverse snore/groaning noises literally ALL night long. Not during REM sleep. He starts “honking” as I call it, almost immediately. I am a VERY light sleeper. I’m also a frequent night urinator. So our cycle is pure hell for me. He falls asleep immediately. I fall asleep after him. Then the moans start and there goes my entire night of sleep. I know he’s woken me with his noises because my heart is hammering, or I’ve just been startled out of deep sleep/dream state, because I remember the dream vividly at the moment. I shuffle off to the bathroom across the hall, and sure enough, I can hear him honking away.
    Back to bed I go, only to be awoken an hour later. Up to the bathroom, back to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat 5 or 6 times a night.
    I’m broken. I need sleep. I feel horrible. I have tried virtually every suggestion for “living with a partner” who does this. White noise, fan, ear plugs. Unfortunately, ear plugs give me serious stomach churning vertigo, and always have. Like, if I sleep in them I will take them out in the morning and instantly the world tilts and I start hurling. So, that’s not an option.
    Husband is working on getting a sleep study done now.
    As horrible as I feel about him going to the guest room tonight (I had hip replacement in May, so it’s going to be him who moves upstairs tonight as a trial) I am looking forward to seeing if this helps. Honestly, if I could string 4 or 5 hours together, unbroken, I’d feel like a new woman. I was bawling this morning. To bed at 11, up at 12:06, and every hour thereafter. I know I’m a light sleeper, but this is ridiculous!

  3. Oh my…I’m looking into this now, because I’ve currently got Covid and a really bad sore throat. My husband has ended up sleeping on the sofa the past two nights, because he said I was groaning…I’ve been aware that I occasionally “hummed” and that I did so as a child, so for decades now. But he’s never complained before now. I already use either snore strips or nose plug things to open my nose, and tape my mouth to make sure I breathe through my nose – but now I’m learning it doesn’t seem to stop the groaning/humming. Sometimes I wake myself up if I start to hum, but I had no idea that “once it starts it goes on…and on…” (his words this morning). I’m really hoping that when my throat gets better and I’ve recovered from Covid, I’ll stop the groaning…it’s very very dispiriting to see that the only suggested remedy is a CPAP machine. Just, no. I’m already worried my daughter will start to complain about the noise, and as for camping this summer…it’s not good. PLEASE someone, do some more research!! The sleep deprivation from either being poked to wake up and stop, or from waking myself up – it’s not fun.

  4. I’m 68 years old and married for over 13 years to a good man. My first husband was violent and abusive. He dislocated my jaw and put me in the hospital. I think now there is some connection because my jaw slides sideways when I sleep on my back. Today my husband (who snores very loudly himself, mind you) said he feels like he’s “in a forest” because of the weird noises I make when I’m asleep. He laughed as he said it. He was more amused than bothered which didn’t make me feel any better. I sometimes hear the noises myself and it wakes me up, but it seems like it’s coming from somewhere else not me. At least now I know this condition has a name, CATATHRENIA, and I’m not alone. I wish there was a cure. It’s disheartening to find out I’m doing something annoying when I’m not conscious or able to stop it. Thanks for reading.

  5. Hello all😁 I’m a 46yr old female, I’ve been moaning, groaning for about 25 yrs. Recently I moved in with my daughter and she’s told me the sounds a very sexual which is totally humiliating because I’m a single woman. I’ve had a problem with waking up kind of choking or coughing. My daughter says I talk a lot in my sleep and groan sexually.
    She says I also moan every time I turn over. She says I laugh a lot too. It is very frustrating knowing I’m groaning loud enough that the neighbors probably hear it. I’m a Disciple of Christ. I’m definitely going to talk about this with my doctor. Thank you for listening.

    • I am a 49 year old woman. For the past 2 years, my boyfriend says I’ve been making a noise while sleeping. It sounds like a big « ugh » ( like when someone startles you the noise you make) shortly after I go to sleep. He says it is quite disturbing as it awakens him or prevents him from falling asleep himself. I may do this 1-4x a night, even after getting up to use the bathroom. Also as quickly as 3 minutes within falling asleep. I have tried propping pillows, not interested in a CPAP unit. Any other suggestions or anyone have the same thing happening?

  6. I’ve had this problem for 50 years. In my 40’s it got worse so I decided to find out what was going on. I had a good doctor who stuck with me through different sleep studies and it wasn’t until I went to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge that I found out what it was called. This was such a relief! Apparently, the night I returned home I slept soundly. I really don’t see how they can say it isn’t life-threatening, it’s driven me to despair, I can’t function properly during the day if I’ve had a bad night. I have to live by myself as it drives everyone mad and I can’t go away, I’ve had to get a camper. Even my dogs hate it! Last night it happened as soon as I went to sleep but it woke me up every time and I just needed sleep, it was awful. I think I managed to sleep through it eventually as I was exhausted. It’s always worse when I’m stressed and it is connected to horrible anxiety dreams, I seldom remember the details but have such a horrible feeling, as you get after nightmares. I wish some research would be done on this, I’d be first in the queue! It’s ruined my life.

    • I wish that I could put into words what this condition has done to my life. Thank you for sharing your story I can totally relate!

  7. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to look up ‘why do I moan so much when I sleep’ and low and behold, I found out I’m not
    the only one with this really bizarre problem! I read a lot of the comments and couldn’t help but laugh bc I could totally relate to each and every one of them and bc, well, come on, let’s face it, it is kinda funny in a sad and pathetic way.

    I have had this problem since I was a teenager, I think. It’s progressively gotten worse… I’m 50 now. I find that I moan more when I’m extra tired or sick. If I have a cold or any sort of congestion my moaning will be so loud that I will keep waking myself. It is so annoying and exhausting!
    I wish there was a real solution to this as it seems to be getting worse for me. My sleep has already gotten worse bc I’m perimenopausal. I also feel so bad for anyone who has the misfortune of having to sleep next to me.
    Ps apparently I moaned AND laughed in my sleep last night and woke my partner up 4x! Poor guy.
    PPS. I wonder if this is hereditary bc my mom also does this.

    • I’m a 19 year old and I’ve been sharing my room with my sister who one day mentioned to me that I moan in my sleep, but this was months ago. She mentioned it again the other day and I brushed it off. Then again last night, and she seems really disturbed by it lol, and she struggles to fall asleep. She also said it sounds sexual which is really embarrassing bc she’s 14 :( and I know for a fact I’m not dreaming of anything that’d make me make those sounds haha. It’s comforting to know that I’m not weird, but how can I fix this? I’m leaving for college soon and I’ll have a roommate. And I’m very nervous and self-conscious about this now :’(

  8. In all honesty, I’ve had this issue since I was little. I use to have to share a room with my mom back when I was 12 – 16. My mom would tell me I was making a groaning sound then would start mumbling like I was talking to someone. Now I’m 24 turning 25 and my boyfriend of 9 years keeps shaking me awake and this has been going on for years. It would happen every night or every other night to tell me to stop. This has actually been leading me with no sleep.. I’ve been more emotional than I should be and I don’t know what else to do. Yes I’m a smoker and I feel like it could be related to it but at the same time I’m not entirely sure. Since I’ve actually had this back then as well. I haven’t spoke to my doctor to get any recommendations but Im here because I need help. Plus being shaken awake isn’t fun I just want it to go away.

  9. Last night, while sleeping, my fiance woke me to say that I had made a sound like a baby laughing. He asked me test questions to see if I was still me and not possessed.
    His reaction weirded me out, because he seemed dead serious. I’m a bit freaked out now myself. Am I possessed?!
    No, but seriously, I want to never make that sound again. I know I talk in my sleep, sometimes hum, sometimes snore, (And he’s never complained) but never had I ever made a sound like a baby laughing. Until now. And it’s like this sound actually scared him.

    • Ohhh my goodness, as a person who suffers from this type of phenomena too, this made me laugh my a— off!! “Test questions to see if you were possessed….” THAT had me rolling, OMG!! I hope some good professional help can get down to the bottom of it, for people like us who suffer; I apologize I am not making light of your situation, but I saw the whole thing being played out in my mind, and it was friggin HILARIOUS!! OMG, seriously though, take care of yourself, ok!

      • Haha I also lol’ed when I read that comment. I also suffer from this ‘disease’ or whatever it is and I was just told yesterday that moaned and laughed in my sleep . Pretty sure I’m not possessed… 🤔

    • I’ve been trying to locate why I have been told that in my sleep I moan and then I start like making a baby whining and then screaming sound but all while sounding like an infant and I can’t find anything ..have you located anything because yours was the only thing that I’ve seen so far that has anything to do with the baby sounds and it’s freaking me out!!! I feel like I’m getting possessed by something or I don’t know what to think but I’m freaked out!!!! I have no idea who or where to turn to find out what’s wrong with me please reply I’m really scared

  10. Hi I am looking into possibly getting my tonsils taken out. But need to do an official sleep test first and see if tonsillectomy is recommended. If you have Catathrenia it is highly unlikely to go away. In fact it can get worse over the decades. I had it (fairly mildly) from my early 20s. I left it untreated for decades.
    I highly recommend RESMED AIRSENSE 10 CPAP MACHINE. (about 2000 dollars in Australia). It can be adjusted so that it won’t stop or cut out during the night so that you have continual air. On top of this I highly recommend the memory foam face masks that come with it. They need to be thrown out after 6 weeks but are super comfortable and nothing is noisy about the machine. I’ve been on the machine for nearly 2 and a half years. I was able to purchase it without having had a sleep test. I didn’t go on the machine until I was 48 (almost 49). By that time the noise I was making was horrific (it had been getting much louder, longer and more frequent for 15-20 years; I didn’t address it), the nightmares were horrific (because your brain has no oxygen) and the embarrassment (neighbours hearing (I feel I reached the loudest decibel possible)) and way you feel during the day also become horrific. The risk of stroke or heart attack became very real to me with how your body copes. It was literally a nightmare on elm street; I was too scared to go back to sleep. I am actually a small built (size 8 in Australia), physically fit, non-drinker, non-smoker, non-drug taker person, so this bizarre nocturnal thing can effect anyone I guess; you don’t have to be overweight or unhealthy. Asthma and Aspergers are in my parents so this could be a genetic (asthma) and / or stress-related (growing up with 1 Asperger parent (who had dysfunctional relational problems and money habits)) thing.
    Last night I actually believe I went through the entire night without making the noise AT ALL for the first time in many months. Because I have been trying different styles of air masks, some of them certainly reduce the noise you make very very significantly but the one I used for the first time last night certainly seemed to stop the noise completely. It was the foam memory mask (Resmed F20).
    I do believe stress does add to Catathrenia sufferers also. I have been using lavender oil on my wrists before sleep. Today I feel pretty good, here’s hoping it stays that way.
    The embarrassment plays a huge part in how bad you feel, and sadly I’ve had neighbours (in a previous place of dwelling, a block of units) making fun of it, imitating it, I’ve even had crows and birds in the trees outside the window answering back because it’s so loud).
    It’s worth chasing up CPAP THERAPY even though it’s expensive, try and get help. I delayed helping myself for decades (I live alone) because of denial and / or ”hoping it might go away” or thinking ”some nights are better than others” or ”it’s so depressing to go on a ‘machine’ at 31 years of age”….the list goes on.
    Get help as soon as you can and your life will improve. I’m saving up for a travel mini CPAP machine (no water required). Whether I actually save up remains to be seen but…..With the travel machine at least you can go on an aeroplane, which I haven’t done for almost a decade.
    I’ve met others who have apnoea but have never met anyone who actually has CATATHRENIA. Probably because it’s embarrassing. I worked out what I had because I could hear myself whilst asleep, and like other people in this column, I also was dreaming I was in a conversation with people, or people were talking or singing but deep down knowing it was actually me. That’s why you aren’t sleeping properly because you are in a semi-state and can hear your own yucky noise.
    Like someone else in this column, I too am not scared of dying and believe in God and Jesus (one night when it got so bad I just lay there awake after an episode and thought ”I just want to go see my Grandparents now and depart this world”) but if you get yourself treated properly as soon as you can, I feel God would be pleased to see improvements happen, lengthen your life, strengthen your journey knowing Him and who he really is, and hear your prayers for help.
    Thank you Regards ( :

  11. Ive been reading the comments on Catathrenia. I’m not sure what my husband’s condition is called, but its heartbreaking. He talks all night long to someone. Saying things like that I’m fat or he doesn’t love me. It’s formed in sort of a snore but I have exhausted all avenues from psychiatrists to preachers thinking it was just me hearing things. Its been going on for 6 years and I love him very much. Could he be doing this on purpose or is some kind of spirit messing with us? He is the sweetest man and I can’t imagine he saying those awful things about me. I told him I was going to record him but he said, “I don’t want to hear it so just listen to what I say when I’m awake.” Has anyone else ever heard of this?

    • I’ve heard some sleep talkers will say things including insults, but studies from what I’ve read it’s just meaningless and shouldn’t be worried. It doesn’t seem to be tied to dreaming.

    • Hi, I have just been reading these comments, and most sound familiar.
      I remember about 4yrs ago when it started…it was very scary and due to my cultural/spiritual background it definitely sounded like I was possessed.
      According to my wife, I make different animal/baby sounds. I sometimes wake up with a vague feeling like I was getting some kind of ‘seizure/twitching movement in my sleep. There was also a time when I would have experienced phenomena that can best be described as night terror/sleep paralysis.
      I would also sometimes ‘swear ‘/say things in my sleep which are totally uncharacteristic.
      This has caused untold harm as according to her I cannot justify these sounds/dreams.

  12. Hi,
    My partner has noticed over the last 6-7 months that I’ve been making sucking noises with my mouth during my sleep. The best way he can describe it is, ‘it sounds like oral sex noises’ as if I have too much saliva in my mouth. Swallowing a lot, smacking my lips together. I have no memory or awareness of this. He also says I bob my head during my sleep & twitch and twinge in my sleep. Thrust my body and breathe loudly. It’s beginning to affect both our sleep as it keeps him awake and I’m afraid to go to sleep for fear of waking him up.

  13. I also have the same problem, seriously no one can bear me. My sister who sleeps beside literally kills me every night, telling you don’t let me sleep. Now she left sleeping with me and I have to sleep all alone.

  14. My husband has told me sometimes I whimper, like crying, when I sleep. He doesn’t think this is the same thing. I don’t know anything about it. I was diagnosed as bipolar this past year and he thinks it has something to do with my poor mood the last few weeks. I don’t know what to say but he really thinks I need to talk to my psychiatrist about it.

    • I do this too! But I’m in like an REM I think because sometimes I can feel and hear myself sound like I’m crying but I can’t wake up all the way or make it stop until I do wake up all the way! It’s so strange!!!

  15. I only used to make groaning noises when i had a cold, (blocked nose). But recently i have started to do it every night now. I feel bad for my partner as he doesnt get enough sleep, and sometimes its that bad he just sleeps on the sofa, as ear plugs and listening to music doesnt work. Also i have gained alot of weight since moving in together. So going to loose some weight and see if that works too, have i have read some comments saying they have stopped since loosing weight. I really hope i can get this sorted and its really upsetting our relationship.

  16. I think I have this, weird noises, and they wake me up sometimes too. I thought the grunting came from near the vocal cords. I found a couple of things: as soon as I lie down to sleep (on my back), I get post nasal discharge (phlegm or snot) flowing down to my throat. Clearing this helps. The other thing is, having been diagnosed with a slow thyroid, I felt like this might also be where some of the noise is coming from (thyroid area).

  17. My husband has started these weird grunting noises as he drifts off to sleep. While he sleeps it gets worse. He is driving me insane. It happened before years ago while he was in the hospital, but it eventually went away.

    I don’t mean to get angry at him but I have my own medical problems and he thinks that I am exaggerating. He awakes as if he has had the best sleep in his life, while I feel completely drained. There has to be a remedy to this.

  18. Hello friends, I just want you all to know I understand. I just started this humming/snoring/groaning mess a few months ago. I don’t know why. I have restless leg syndrome and snore already as well as have a random cough too. So this isn’t helping. I feel like a freak of some kind. I am going to try dropping 15-20 pounds and regulating my sleep schedule, try sitting up to sleep and avoiding dairy and sugar. I’m desperate!
    I’m praying for each of you as I know that is the best answer to all issues.
    Sincerely, Sharolyn

    • I have recently started this too. It sounds like I’m humming. I’ve woken myself up with it. It’s embarrassing. I hope it stops. I’ve lost 29lbs, but it still happens.

  19. I’ve been moaning in my sleep since the age of 15 and I’m now 26. it is getting embarrassing and messing with my sleep as I do not hear it but my partner does and it drives him mad. then he keeps on moving me coz only then does the noises stop. but as soon as im fast asleep it starts again. so due to it disturbing his sleep he disturbs mine. Something that is also weird for me after reading this article is that i experience it from the moment i fall asleep till the time i wake up. there is no specific stages but i was also advised to try and sleep with a pillow tucked tightly to my chest and sleeping on my side so i will give it a go and see what happens. Any more advice would be very much appreciated.

    • I too have the strangest noise while sleeping. My husband recorded me. I got so upset him waking me up as soon as I would fall asleep. I make that noise sitting up in a chair at the table just wherever I fall asleep. Oh my gosh it’s like a pack of wolves having sex or whatever. We went to the doctor and she asked for a lung function test. As for me I was leading towards throat cancer. But now I know it’s not that at all.
      Plus my CPAC machine doesn’t really help much. They are gonna look it over to see why.
      Thank you for listening to me.

      • Hi Julia
        Do you often fall asleep at uncommon times, such as sitting up at a table? If so, it might be good to get checked out for narcolepsy.

    • Hi Chanel,

      Did this work for you? I am having the same problem. But mine has only recently started since i moved out and got my own place, i wake up feeling guilty and low because im preventing my partner from sleeping or he just sleeps on the sofa, because he cannot stand the noise.

  20. I am this problem too, most time you never heard that you doing the scary sound. My neighbour told my wife that there was this strange sound your husband doing, my wife told me and I continue doing it. It is bad I want to stop this.

  21. I googled loud sleep noises just now and found Catathrenia. Thank you!
    I fell asleep on my couch this evening and woke myself up making a loud moaning sound. It is definitely not snoring. My sister told me that I am a loud sleeper while on a trip together three years ago but I didn’t experience it myself until recently. It is on the exhale and I believe it is due to the constriction of my vocal cords. I do wake up tired even though I “get enough sleep,” and have wondered why that is. I do take medications that make me stuffy but I don’t think that is involved since the noise occurs on the exhale. I am going to add pillows to see if that will help.

  22. My husband always has to wake me up at night because I make these weird groaning sounds. I noticed when he does I am in the middle of a dream. I dream a lot and sometimes wake up exhausted from it. I honestly think I groan because I’m talking in my dreams and like this reading describes it during REM and a part of our brain relaxes the vocal cords from its typical state. Just my opinion on why I think I make those weird sounds. Would be nice if I can stop.
    – Dreamer

    • My husband makes those weird noises. It almost sounds like he’s having a nightmare. I feel better now that I see it’s fairly common. Scares me though.

  23. My sister makes a grunting to a straining noise and then it can sound like she is singing, laughing etc., but not always in that order and it’s never a sound that’s recognizable like talking, just sounds. It’s annoying of course but never scary.
    When I have visited and stayed the night it is every night but it never wakes her and she doesn’t know she does it.

  24. I used to sleep groan every night after I turned 24. It was so embarrassing. I am in the process of losing 80 pounds and after I dropped the first 15 pounds, it just stopped. If you are like me and you sleep groan often and are obese, losing weight may help you too.

    • Thank you, i will admit i am at my biggest i have ever been, i will also try this and its only recently started this year.

    • Thank you. I feel so bad for my husband. When we first met and I was doing this we assumed it was nightmares due to PTSD from a prior physically abusive relationship. But over the last few years it’s gotten way worse. I have always been a somewhat “loud” sleeper but the last year it has gotten really bad. I always wait for my husband to go to sleep and then come to bed because I know I’m disrupting his sleep. He always asks me why it takes me so long to come to bed but, I don’t want to tell him it’s because of me because this is so embarrassing. I thought I was having nightmares and I don’t want him to think it’s because I can’t get over my Ex. We have been together for almost 5 years and the problem as gotten way worse. Now that I know it could be this and not nightmares, it’s definitely time to figure this out. I wonder if my extra weight (I’m 5’5 215 pounds) is causing it or if it’s something else entirely. Whatever it is, I need to stop because my husband is not getting enough sleep and I feel horrible. I can tell he tries to hide his exhaustion from me but I can tell he’s always tired and I know it’s because of me. I am also always tired, even with a full 8 hours of sleep. I think this has been affecting my sleep as well and I just didn’t know it. I have been trying to figure out why I am tired all the time and why I go through episodes of what feels like near depression. I wonder if it’s my body not getting enough good sleep and I don’t even realize it. My husband and I just got diagnosed with Covid which has greatly affected our breathing. We are on the upswing but Covid definitely made my groaning/moaning way worse. Which would make sense since Covid is a virus that affects the respiratory system and the issue of the moaning/groaning is affected by breathing. Hopefully we can get an answer soon and get a treatment figured out before I chase my husband away. I’m only half joking but, I truly feel horrible for him because I know I’m the one who is keeping him awake and I’m the cause for his exhaustion during the day. We have been married just over a year, been together for nearly 5, our lives together has just started. I can’t handle the thought of causing him such stress and difficultly with his sleep for the next 50 years! I’m definitely going to be talk to my doctor about the possibility of having this and how we can fix it. Thanks for posting about the weight, I never thought that could be it but, it makes sense. Congrats on losing 80 pounds, that is a massive accomplishment! I hope you continue to do well.

    • Ohh THANK YOU, Lhvoyles!! Your generous and honest input is greatly appreciated; I admit I am carrying one too many sandbags around the midsection (and saddlebags on the back), I am currently doing a cleansing fast, hopefully I will lose weight and the crazy sounds will end— I just caught myself doing this today, during a short nap!

  25. I don’t know if I have this or not. My husband says I growl & grunt. Not groaning. He says it’s animal like. Very loud & earplugs make no difference for him. Do others think I have it? Obviously at the moment I can’t get medical advice/help as it’s not as important as more serious conditions. Advice would help. Keep safe everybody.

    • My partner does the exact same thing it started a few years ago he sounded like a demonic cow lol. I was so scared when I woke up then realised it was him and I couldn’t stop laughing I woke him up and it’s like he ran a marathon. The last time it happened he was howling I woke him up and he was scared then quickly realised and started laughing

  26. It’s so good to now know what I’ve been experiencing has a name & I’m not alone. I haven’t yet tried some of the suggestions but here’s what I’ve observed: I didn’t start doing it that I know of until I put on weight (50lbs or so), it happens most when sleeping on my back, it doesn’t happen every night but when it does it usually wakes me up, sometimes the sound is drawn out for over 20 seconds & always after I inhale, it happens more when I haven’t been sleeping enough & when it’s really bad it sometimes feels like I don’t get enough air.
    Thank u for ur research & ur article!

  27. I have moaning and groaning sounds all night long and now jerking. I’m on three antidepressants. My boyfriend tells me he has never heard anything like it. I’m so embarrassed I don’t even want to stay with him at night. I sometimes wake myself up with the noises. He says they are weird and getting worse. I have polyps in my nose and went to the EMT doctor but I wasn’t doing it then I went because I feel like there is something in my right nostril. He said I had a couple small polyps but not to worry. When I sneeze I can’t catch my breath I feel like I’m choking. I have tried everything to try to open up my right nostril. This has gone on now for almost 4 yrs. I could never go stay with anyone because I’m embarrassed. I need help and I know it I just don’t know where to start looking. Can you point me out in the right direction? I feel like there is no help for me and I’m so stressed over this. I’m so lost and it’s hurting the person I love because I want to go to his house at night. I’m so ashamed.

    • Donna,
      My husband makes the noises as well. Perhaps if you had your loved one record you making the noises you would have some evidence to take to your M.D. so that they can get you set up for a sleep study. If he truly loves you then he will be just as invested in trying to help you as you are. Also, don’t be embarrassed by this you have no control over this. I recorded my husband so that he could hear and understand what I was trying to describe to him. You will get through this, think of it this way, of all the medical problems you could have and this is the one you get, it could have been something so much scarier!! YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!!

      • This is a good suggestion, and I’ve done the same with my partner. It can really help for them to listen to the noise themselves, so they know it’s real and what kind of noise it is exactly that they produce, and also how continuously.

  28. I’ve been making these weird and unusual and scary noises for some time. Of course, I have never heard them but my sleep partner has shared that sometimes I sound like a laughing hyena other times I just make high-pitched noises. I just don’t know what to do I know it’s worse when I drink alcohol. But aside from that it’s pretty consistent for me over the past few years and I just hope that it hasn’t bothered my brain…. eardrum sinuses lungs I just don’t know what the repercussions really are.

  29. I have this problem occasionally. It seems to happen when my sinuses are stuffy or I try and stay up too late and then doze off watching tv. It’s always when I exhale and at the end of my breath I make a “huh” type of noise. Not overly loud or high pitched. Sometimes I wake myself up when I do it. Last night my husband said it didn’t matter which position I laid in. Back, stomach, side. I did it for a while so he had trouble getting to sleep. I need to lose weight, so I always think it has to do with that extra 15lbs that needs to go. I wake up feeling a little dried out and still tired, like I didn’t get enough sleep and was mouth breathing all night. Good to know it’s not serious and just annoying instead. I’ll work on losing that 15lbs and maybe try a saline nasal spray at night until my sinuses clear.

  30. My husband says that I’m making sexual noise and I know for a fact that I’m not messing around with anyone. Other than him and my dreams I don’t be having sex. It’s ruining my marriage. I need HELP and fast! He woke me up out of my sleep and hes been sleeping on the couch ever since. Any information that can be useful please comment thank you signed a faithful wife who may lose her husband to something she didn’t even know she do.

    • Hi Crystal
      I highly recommend asking him to read this article and any other medical website that covers catathrenia. Information about it can help both people in a relationship understand and accept the problem as being less serious than the imagination thinks it is.

  31. My wife woke me up tonight from another one of these exhaling sounds. It scares her because its soo loud. Every time I wake up I remember being in a dream that would have scared me as a child. The dreams consist of battling or confronting a demon or alien type being. The sound I make is like the sound you hear when someone hocks up a lugie and spits it out. I tell her to monitor or watch me go through it to see if I come out of it or stop but it scares her too much. I’m a believer in Christ as my personal Lord and savior and am not afraid to die but she freaks out and wakes me up early in the process. I understand her concern as we are still fairly young in age early to middle 40s.

  32. I KNOW what causes Catathrenia. MEDICAL and science community also knows the reason very well. But they do not want to reveal because it is caused due to prescription pills and syrups that are prescribed for cold and cough. These drugs causes the over-relaxation, or a kind of anesthetic effect to the nasal valve and pipe. The effect can last for 3 days to a month. Or more, if the person is taking similar formulas for some or the other purpose.

    • The medications may make it worse, but you cannot say they are the cause. I have Catathrenia. I never take cold medications or syrups.

    • That is not the root cause of Catathrenia. I have done this since I was a child and it occurs every night. I am now 40, do not take any pills or syrups for cold or cough and I still do it every night. One of the largest contributors to this is the lower jaw and if it is set more forward or back. Also, if you are tongue tied, the position of your tongue can attribute to this as well. As with most things, stress will only make this worse as well.

    • I disagree, I’ve had these sleep noises for my entire life and I obviously havent taken these types of medications since birth

    • I don’t drink or take any medication but still I make these awful sounds when I fall asleep. I know I am making those sounds because I hear myself making them than they wake me up. I am 63 years old and this started a few months ago and they start every night since. Other than that and some arthritis, I am in good health.

  33. I have no idea what happened and my sister kicked me that night, I retaliated and asked what’s wrong with her. She replied in a very angry tone that it’s me who is wrong. I am making horrible sounds like I am put under heavy loads and have absolutely no idea how irritating sound they are every night. I simply told her to get back to sleep, instead of making stories. Past few years when I left my town to study away from my home. I realised I was making those sounds. I have got to know its name today only and sadly there is no right treatment or medication.
    It’s embarrassing!

  34. What is the problem with sleeping in separate rooms if you have an extra bedroom? Your partner will be there in the morning!

  35. I started doing these noises recently. I didn’t know I was making them. At first, I’d wake myself thinking it was my daughter or something else. Then my sister stayed with me and pointed out that I was moaning. Then my dad told me I was making a weird noise like “hmm” with a high pitch. I do sleep on my back and side. I have a high stress at work. I wake myself up all the time and I’ve found my daughter awake because of my noise.
    I don’t know how to proceed.

  36. Recent surgery. I wake bc I even hear sound like a horse. I do know my sinuses are bothering me more than ever. Dripping nose during the day. Exercised induced Asthma, but no real exercise lately due to limitations from total knee replacement. This is a new condition from ultimate physical stress. Recovery. Lastly, 66 years old. Hopeful this will resolve.

  37. Ok this sounds terrible I know but it’s an honest comment:

    Firstly at home:
    While I’m asleep at home in my own bed I have absolutely no idea I make the noise. I sleep in many different position but often wake up on my back. I do snore sometimes and I am rarely woken up by my snoring. My wife will tell me in the morning “you were making this sound last night (and then mimics the moaning sound)” I never had any idea I made the sounds until she pointed it out. I don’t make the sound very loudly but I can recall 1 event where I woke up and knew I made the moaning sound at a new high volume.

    Ok here is where it is going to sound bad. I am a technician and I have worked for large manufacturers and currently work in a large factory. We work a rotating schedule – 1 week of days, 1 week of evenings, 1 week of nights therefore regular sleep is not on my agenda. Most of the time I have no issues with staying awake at work but I have honestly dozed off. I am like a fireman at my job, I am not needed until I am needed and some shifts I don’t sit down, some shifts I don’t do anything. The shifts I don’t do anything are the worst because it’s so easy to dose off especially since I will never have a normal sleep schedule again and a lot of times my work hours are 16 hours a day in the factory. It’s not like I’m making a point to sleep at work, I’d rather be on the floor all shift but the less I work the more money the company makes.
    Anyway, when I just so happen to dose off at work I’m usually up-right in an old office chair (quality rest I know) but it never fails I always wake myself up making this moaning noise and 99% of the time it’s very quiet. Occasionally I’ll make the noise at speaking voice level and then try to mask it with a cough or something.

    I am generally not stressed especially at my job but I am worn out.

    I feel that the noise is not due to a blockage of my airway, like fighting to let air out of my throat or something but it is more related to a very relaxed chest/voice box or something in that general area and a slight hum is made.

    I read about the CPAP fix but my wife and I are able to get rest at home. I obviously can’t carry a CPAP into work.

    Any insight on this nightmare of a condition would be great but most of the things I read about this medical anomaly are somewhere along the lines of there is no known fix

  38. My Catathrenia began in the past few weeks and is now occurring more often almost every day. I plan on fixing this problem with every effort possible.
    – raising my pillow almost to a seated position helped stop the groaning sounds today and I was half awake listening for my sounds. None came.

    -it definitely occurs when I sleep on my back – so changing my sleep position could help. I may need to put a pillow behind my back to avoid allowing me to roll onto my back in the middle of the night.
    -It would make sense that if I slept on my left side with my forehead facing down off the bed/ edge of the pillow should help…
    – I definitely feel a pressure on my vocal cords, like a lazy throat <—- sleep deprivation would aggravate this.

    -I have a cough and sometimes allergies where my mid and low sinuses feel inflamed whi h could also be obstructing my throat. I will try Vick’s vapor rub tonight to see if that helps as well.

    I plan to use breathing exercises and vocal chord strengthening exercises, as well as mindfulness meditation throughout the day to fix this… should all help. I can follow up in a few weeks after putting much attention toward addressing this problem. I am 30 years old and newly married…. this cannot and will not be a life long issue.

    • My husband does this and it’s very LOUD and VERY annoying. Feels like torture bc the SECOND I start drifting off it happens again. Then I start getting even more aggravated and the adrenaline from that further prevents me from sleeping even more. And On and on. Of course, he sleeps just fine! Other than me waking him up. Sometimes we get into fights too, it’s terrible! He already had his entire soft palette tissues removed bc he used to suffer from sleep apnea. So I feel bad Bc he’s been through enough. Having that surgery was a major sacrifice for us, he can’t be expected to do more. But now with this, we just may have to start sleeping in separate bedrooms. Sad!