Catathrenia – Causes of Catathrenia

A few persons have been observed to hold their breath and groan during expiration while sleeping. Such kind of condition is clinically termed as Catathrenia.

Causes of Catathrenia

The cause of the condition whether physical or neurological is yet to be studied. The topic is still controversial. Further studies are going on. But speculations from a few researches state that high level of stress may be related to this sleep disorder.
Very little research has been carried out on Catathrenia as it is mostly not life-threatening. But it can affect the sleep quality, social life and relationship to an unexpected level.

How Catathrenia Occurs ?

  • The condition begins with a deep inhalation.
  • Then the patient holds the breath against the closed glottis.
  • This occurs as a valsalva maneuver, where air is forced to pass through a closed airway.
  • After a certain period of time, some blood oxygen desaturation occurs resulting in an arousal complied by an expiration.
  • The slow escape of the air through the narrow airway is accompanied by sound. This sound is the result of vibration in the vocal cords. In a few cases, a simple rapid exhalation may occur with no audible sound.

A brief explanation

  • This medical condition is a kind of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep parasomnia.
  • The normal sleep characterized by rapid movement of the eyes is called REM sleep.
  • Parasomnia is a category of sleep disorders which involves abnormal and unnatural behaviors, dreams, emotions, movements and perceptions during the time of falling asleep, sleeping, between the stages of sleep or even during arousal from sleep.
  • Catathrenia is much different from somniloquy (the condition involving speaking while asleep) and obstructive sleep apnea (the obstruction in the air way causing pauses in breathing during sleep).

Typical Characteristics Observed

  • The sound produced in this condition is different from snoring.
  • In Catathrenia, the sound is produced during exhalation.
  • In snoring, the sound is produced during inhalation.
  • The person making the sound usually does not notice the sounds.
  • The person may be woken by his own groaning.
  • The sounds produced can be very disturbing to the sleep partners.
  • The patients take a deep breath, hold the breath for some moment, exhale slowly.
  • The exhalation is often associated with a groaning sound or a high-pitched squeak.
  • It occurs at a less degree during NREM than in REM sleep.
  • The groaning is usually observed towards the end of the sleep cycle.

1 response to Catathrenia – Causes of Catathrenia

  1. Hi….
    This happens to me regularly. But is does not occur later in my sleep cycle. It always happens just as I fall asleep. It startles my bf and sometimes wakes me up.

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