Why Do I Moan When I Sleep?

Do you always feel surprised when your partner says you groan a lot in sleep? You may be asking why. This issue may be keeping you from having sleepovers. It may even affect your relationships. Or, you may be the one suffering because your partner groans a lot and wakes you up in the middle of the night. Whatever the case, you can certainly learn why it happens and what you can do about it.

Why Do I Moan When I Sleep?

If you keep moaning while sleeping, it could be due to a condition called Catathrenia. The condition is actually a type of sleep disorder and is usually associated with sleep apnea. The good news is that Catathrenia is not like obstructive sleep apnea and does not cause serious health problems.

You experience this condition during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, a phase in your sleep when your brain is not that responsive to stimuli. During this stage of sleep, you are likely to inhale deeply, hold your breath for some time and then exhale slowly. You will make that groaning noise while exhaling. This is not like snoring because you snore during inhalation. You may take up to 50 seconds to exhale completely and you may have several such episodes throughout the night. It is also possible to wake yourself up due to the noise you make while exhaling.

The condition is not considered dangerous because researchers believe that you make a conscious decision to hold your breath, whereas you subconsciously stop breathing when you have obstructive sleep apnea.

What Causes It?

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Why do I moan when I sleep? It could be because you drink too much alcohol. Excessive drinking can make it difficult for your throat muscles to relax during the night. This makes them work harder to exhale. You may notice an improvement in your condition simply by reducing the intake of alcohol. Limiting your alcohol intake may also help prevent other sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis and restless leg syndrome. Even if you do not drink much, you should avoid it at least 4 hours before you go to bed.

Wrong Sleeping Position

You may also be moaning because you sleep while lying on your back (the supine position). It becomes difficult to breathe while in this position. In this position, the back of your tongue may relax and block the airway. It means the air will have to squeeze through a small opening, which is the reason why you make a gurgling noise while sleeping. Changing your sleep position may actually help resolve the issue.

Certain Sports

Another possible reason of why you may make a gurgling noise while sleeping is that you may have been into sports that require you to hold your breath. This is especially true for swimmers who have to hold their breath for long. In this case, your subconscious mind adopts this breathing pattern and sticks to it even when you are asleep.

How to Treat/Prevent It

Why do I moan when I sleep? There're various causes as well as a number of ways to treat your condition and make breathing easier throughout the night. Here are some suggestions:

  • You may consider using a Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) machine to treat your condition. It works by pumping pressurized air into the room and preventing any blockage to the airways. Some people wear a facemask and let the machine pump the air directly into the throat to control moaning. While the machine is certainly expensive, it can be quite helpful. In fact, it works effectively to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
  • You may consider taking a hot bath before going to bed. Not only will this help relax your muscles, it will also help clear your nasal passages. This will make breathing easier and you are less likely to make any gurgling noises while asleep.
  • You may pay attention to what you eat before you go to sleep. If you have hot chocolate or tea before going to sleep, it is better to avoid it because it breaks up mucus and blocks your nasal passage. Similarly, you should not drink alcohol close to bed or you will end up having all sorts of sleep problems.
  • You may be making those noises because of smoking. Quitting may help and improve your breathing. Smoking can cause a buildup of mucus in your airways that will result in trouble breathing at night. This will make your body to work harder and produce a groaning noise.

"Why do I moan when I sleep?" Though there're many causes, you can try many strategies in case you have to stay awake because your partner makes those noises throughout the night. Wearing earplugs is certainly an option, but here are some other suggestions.

  • Learn to relax your nerves and do not focus on those unusual sounds. You do not have to worry about your partner making those noises because the condition is not going to affect them. Keep in mind that if your partner makes those noises while inhaling, this could be because they have sleep apnea that needs medical attention.
  • You may consider using a white noise generator to deal with the noises your partner makes. These machines work by covering the sound of groaning. It is never a good idea to turn on your TV to distract yourself from the noises your partner is making. It can stimulate your brain and cause more problems.
  • You may want to talk to your partner and share your concerns with them. You can both decide to see a professional and find how to cope with Catathrenia in a better way.