Sleep groaning is a rare sleep disorder that involves a person groaning loudly while sleeping. The person groaning is usually not aware of the groaning and may or may not awaken as a result of the groaning noises.

This sleep disorder falls into a different category than talking while asleep does, because the groaning does not culminate into actual words or sentences. Instead, the groaning is a relatively calm and it occurs during a long exhale. This is not a groaning that indicates pain or a nightmare; it is simply a long groan that does not signify anything.

Slow Breathing in Sleep

The groans made by people with this sleep disorder usually occur along with very slow breathing. In fact, a characteristic of this sleep disorder is slower breathing than normal while sleeping.

The groans end with a grunting noise or sigh instead of simply ending, and this is another characteristic that indicates sleep groaning as a disorder. Another common characteristic of this rare sleep disorder is that the people affected by the groaning do not display any sort of pain or discomfort with their facial expressions. This can make the groaning seem quite incongruous with a pleasant sleep.

Groaning can also take on the sounds of roaring or other sounds, but it never is in reaction to aggression or other emotional issues. It appears as though people who encounter sleep groaning simply seem to have a propensity toward groaning in their sleep, and this may not point to any deeper issue.


The reason why this disorder can become such a bother is twofold. People affected by this disorder may not feel as well rested when morning rolls around because their quality of sleep is not as good as a result of the groaning, even if they don’t awaken completely as a result of the groaning.

The other major issue with sleep groaning is the effect it has on the other people in the same home as the person experiencing the disorder. Because the groaning can sound relatively aggressive, alarming, or even scary, it becomes an issue for a spouse or anyone else within earshot.

While the person groaning may not even wake up during an episode, the groaning is usually so loud that everyone else is woken up. Even though a spouse doesn’t have the sleep disorder, his or her sleep is greatly affected.

Unfortunately, unless it is discovered that there is a medical reason for the person groaning while sleeping, there may not be any way for the disorder to be treated effectively. In some instances, a sleep specialist or doctor may discover a cause for the groaning and be able to help the person affected to stop groaning at night.

In other instances, however, the groaner and family members will have to simply learn to live with the episodes. The groaning may becomes less alarming over time as the family members become used to the noise, but this does not mean their sleep won’t get interrupted every time a groan escapes the person’s mouth.

Photo: BrunoBrunan via Flickr

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