Home / Blog March 05, 2024

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Why Do I Moan In My Sleep?

Catathrenia is a sleep disorder which is usually accompanied by involuntary moans and groans when you’re sleeping. In this blog, we look at the causes of this experience and share some practical strategies for reducing sleep-related moaning.

why do I moan in my sleep


Catathrenia causes loud, involuntary groaning, moaning and whimpering during sleep.

Causes of catathrenia include vocalizations from dreams, tense muscles, or seizures.

To alleviate catathrenia, create a comfortable sleep environment and prioritize mental well-being and overall health. 

Did you know?
Unlike most vocalizations, the moaning sounds in your sleep caused by catathrenia are produced during exhalation rather than inhalation!

Ever wondered why your nightly slumber is accompanied by moaning? This is not unusual as several people experience this sleep-disordered breathing pattern. In this blog, we discuss why this happens and what you can do to have groan-free sleep.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Catathrenia?

Catathrenia, also known as nocturnal groaning, is a rare and distinctive sleep disorder characterized by a series of prolonged, involuntary, and often loud groaning or moaning sounds occurring during sleep. This condition is part of a group of sleep-related breathing disorders, but catathrenia stands out due to the following reasons:

1. Sound and Timing: The sounds produced during catathrenia are typically groaning or moaning. These noises are more prominent when you’re breathing out. The sounds can be loud enough to be heard by others in the vicinity, differentiating catathrenia from other sleep-related breathing disorders

2. Breathing Patterns: Catathrenia is not associated with the pauses in breathing seen in conditions like sleep apnea. People with catathrenia often exhibit normal breathing patterns between the groaning episodes.

3. Conscious Awareness: Sleepers with catathrenia are usually unaware of their groaning sounds during sleep. It is often reported by bed partners or family members who observe the symptoms.

4. Sleep Stage Occurrence: Nocturnal groaning tends to occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, although it can also occur during non-REM sleep.

5. Prevalence and Diagnosis: Catathrenia is considered a rare sleep disorder, and its prevalence is not well-established. Diagnosis is typically made through sleep studies (polysomnography), where the distinctive groaning sounds are observed and recorded.

Next, let’s look at the causes of catathrenia.

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Why Do I Make Weird Noises In My Sleep?

Moaning, talking, and whimpering in sleep are phenomena that occur during specific sleep stages and often associated with the dream activity that takes place in those stages. While the exact reasons for these behaviors can vary from person to person, here are some common explanations:

Dream-Related Vocalizations: During certain stages of sleep, particularly the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, vivid dreaming occurs. In this stage, vocalizations like moaning, talking, or whimpering may happen. The content of dreams can influence vocalizations. For example, if a dream is intense or emotionally charged, it might manifest as audible expressions during sleep.

Emotional Processing: Dreams often serve as a way for the brain to process emotions and experiences from waking life. Emotions felt during a dream may be expressed through vocalizations. Whimpering, in particular, may be linked to the emotional content of dreams, reflecting sadness, fear, or distress.

Incomplete Muscle Relaxation: During REM sleep, the body experiences muscle atonia, a state of near-paralysis to prevent acting out dreams. However, this muscle atonia isn’t always complete, allowing for movements and vocalizations. Moaning, talking, or whimpering may result from this incomplete muscle relaxation, allowing vocal cords to produce sound.

Stress and Anxiety: Stress and anxiety can influence the content of dreams and may contribute to vocalizations during sleep. Emotional states during waking hours can carry over into the dream world, impacting sleep behavior.

Nocturnal Seizures: In some cases, nocturnal seizures may manifest as vocalizations during sleep. It’s essential to differentiate between typical dream-related vocalizations and those associated with medical conditions.

Genetics and Family History: There may be a genetic component to sleep talking or other sleep-related vocalizations. If family members also exhibit similar behaviors, it could suggest a genetic predisposition.

While occasional moaning, talking, or whimpering in sleep is considered normal and benign, persistent or disruptive vocalizations warrant further investigation. In the next section, we look at what you can do at home to ensure as few sleep disruptions as possible.

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How To Alleviate Moaning in Your Sleep

Here are some things you can try to remedy moaning and groaning while sleeping:

Evaluate Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive for quality sleep. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows or a weighted blanket to support good sleep posture. Weighted blankets like our Cotton Napper help relax your body to ensure that anxiety stays at bay and does not impede calm restorative rest.

Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day as consistent sleep patterns help regulate your body’s internal clock. Develop calming pre-sleep rituals, like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing.

Limit Stimulants: Reduce or eliminate the intake of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, especially close to bedtime, as it can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to sleep-disordered behaviors.

Manage Stress and Anxiety: Practice stress-reducing techniques, like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, to alleviate anxiety that may contribute to moaning during sleep.

Address Underlying Medical Conditions: Consult with a healthcare professional to rule out or manage any medical conditions that might be affecting your sleep. You can also consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), a structured program that helps people identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems

In the next section, let’s look at what tell-tale signs you need to look out for to know that it’s time for you to visit your doctor and discuss a potential catathrenia diagnosis and treatment.

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When To See A Doctor

Here are things to stay on the lookout to plan when to see a doctor about catathrenia:

1. Persistent Symptoms: If you consistently experience loud groaning or moaning sounds during sleep, seek medical advice.

2. Disrupted Sleep: If the noises disrupt your sleep patterns or affect your overall sleep quality, consult a doctor.

3. Concerns from Bed Partners: If your sleeping partner or family members express concern about your sleep noises, get evaluated by a healthcare professional.

4. Frequency and Intensity: If the frequency or intensity of the moaning episodes increases over time, it may indicate the need for medical attention.

5. Daytime Fatigue: If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue despite adequate time spent in bed, it could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder such as catathrenia.

6. Rule Out Other Conditions: Catathrenia should be distinguished from other sleep disorders or medical conditions that may present with similar symptoms. A healthcare professional can help rule out other potential causes.

If you seek medical advice for symptoms of catathrenia, your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation, including a review of your medical history and possibly a physical examination. They may recommend a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options will be discussed, tailored to your needs, which may include lifestyle modifications, therapeutic interventions, or medication.


Moaning, groaning, and whimpering while sleeping is not an uncommon condition. However, it helps to understand what is causing this experience and how you can alleviate it to improve your sleep quality as well as that of bed partners. Remember, if you experience persistent symptoms or concerns about your sleep patterns, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management. With the right approach and guidance, you should be able to quietly rest at night and wake up feeling refreshed