Sleep Groaning Versus Snoring
Humans do a lot of weird things while they sleep. You’ve no doubt heard (or possibly even experienced) people sleepwalking and/or sleep talking. Some people experience night terrors, and wake up screaming or crying. Some people randomly snack or eat while they’re asleep. Some people even have sex while they’re asleep!
But what about the sounds that we make?
Everyone makes sounds that are a little different. Some sleep silently. Some breathe deeply. Some seem to breathe with short, quick breaths… and some inhale and exhale air like an automotive air intake!
But did you know that ‘sleep groaning’ is a thing that some people do? And as it turns out, some people actually mistake it for snoring, when it is, in fact, quite different.
But what is the difference between sleep groaning and snoring?
Here is what you need to know.
Snoring, Sleep Groaning, and the Differences Between Them
Snoring is a pretty common condition in which the soft tissues of the upper airway ‘close in’ during sleep. This restricts the airway enough that the air rushes through a bit faster as you breathe, which can, in turn, ‘vibrate’ the soft tissue.
This vibration causes a sound—and that sound is what we have come to know as snoring.
Snoring is a very common sleeping disorder. Sometimes it isn’t incredibly dangerous… but it can be… especially if it progresses to a stage where it could be diagnosed as sleep apnea.
But sleep groaning? Well, that is another thing entirely—though it is commonly called snoring by people who do not completely understand what is going on.
Unknown to most people, there is actually a sleep condition called ‘catathrenia.’ This condition is quite rare, and is said to affect just 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the population (though that number could actually be a bit higher). It is a parasomnia, which is the same category that conditions like sleep walking and/or sleep talking fit into—except this parasomnia is solely dedicated to those who groan in their sleep.
Catathrenia, or ‘Sleep Groaning’
So what exactly is ‘sleep groaning?’
Well, according to researchers, it sounds a lot like snoring… except that the sound happens when you exhale, which is different from snoring, which happens when you inhale.
A single sleep groan can last anywhere from half a minute to a minute, and is said to sound very much like you might expect. It sounds like a groan.
Some have described it as something similar to what you might imagine Chewbacca sounding like. But even more confusing is the fact that sleep groaning is often accompanied by snoring, which can not only make it more difficult to distinguish, but also probably causes it to be underreported, as most people simply assume that it is a phenomenon that is going on because of the snoring.
What Causes It?
Doctors are not completely sure what causes sleep groaning, though they believe that it may sometimes have something to do with the structure of the face and skull. Sleep groaning also seems much more likely to happen during REM sleep, which also happens to be the period of sleep when our muscles are the most relaxed.
There is also some evidence to suggest that stress may play a role—but it is, as of yet, undetermined how this may be the case.
The good news is that sleep groaning is not generally considered dangerous, unless it actually keeps you or someone else from getting a quality night’s sleep. The biggest concern with this type of sound being made during the night is that it could be a sign that the sleeper is suffering from sleep apnea—and that condition is much more dangerous than sleep groaning or regular snoring.