If you make noise during sleep, you might assume right away that it’s snoring, but the truth is that those noises may not be snoring at all. Instead, it may be catathrenia, night groaning, which might be more closely related to sleepwalking than snoring..

Distinguishing Sleep Groaning and Snoring

woman woken up by husband's snoringSnoring and sleep groaning are both sounds you might make when sleeping, but they can be distinguished using a polysomnogram. In fact, you may be able to tell the difference at home if you either have your noises recorded using an anti-snoring app or if you have someone who observes the sounds. Sleep groaning occurs when breathing out, like normal groaning or talking during wakefulness. Snoring, on the other hand, can occur both during breathing in and during breathing out.

Sometimes people are reluctant to talk to their doctor or their bed partner about night groaning because the sounds seem sexual in nature and can cause some embarrassment. However, these sounds aren’t sexual nor are they associated with sexual dreams, and people shouldn’t be embarrassed by them.

What Causes Sleep Groaning

The cause of sleep groaning is a little mysterious. It seems likely that it’s a parasomnia, a sleep disorder in the brain that causes people to perform certain actions during sleep. In fact, it’s been shown that many of the people who currently have catathrenia may have suffered from sleepwalking, night terrors, and other parasomnias as a child or young adult.

Bruxism is another parasomnia that may be related to sleep groaning. Some researchers believe that the sounds are a side effect of the clenching and unclenching of jaw muscles related to nighttime tooth clenching.

Like other parasomnias, catathrenia may have a genetic component.

Sometimes, though, catathrenia may be a misdiagnosis of snoring.

Sleep Groaning Is Bad for Health

As with snoring, many people with sleep groaning report poor quality sleep. However, sleep groaning isn’t associated with sleep apnea, so it probably isn’t associated with the other serious effects such as heart problems, mood disorders, and more.

To learn more about sleep disorders that can be confused with snoring, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver sleep dentist at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado.