Sleep apnea, snoring and groaning

Sleep apnea

A quite serious sleep disorder in which the breathing pattern is abnormal: breathing stops and starts repeatedly, but irregularly.


Types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea (usually throat muscles relax); Central sleep apnea (the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles responsible with breathing); Complex sleep apnea syndrome (a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea)


Snoring is the harsh sound that occurs when the breathing ways are partially obstructed while sleeping. Airflow passes the relaxed tissues in the throat causing them to vibrate and create the specific sounds. It can sometimes indicate a serious health condition.


Catathrenia (Nocturnal groaning):

A relatively rare condition with unknown actual incidence and prevalence. Described as sleep related groaning and/or moaning that appear in episodes. Such an episode lasts around 2-50 seconds and occurs in expiration


Sleep apnea


In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the back throat muscles which support the uvula (triangular piece of tissue), tonsils, tongue and side walls of the throat relax


In this situation, the airways narrow and air cannot be properly taken in


The brain senses this and briefly awakens you in order to “deblock” the airways


In the case of central sleep apnea, the brain does not properly transmit signals to the muscles that are responsible with breathing



Risk factors:


being over-weight

circumference of the neck

narrow airways

a family history of the disorder


alcohol consumption, sedatives, tranquilizers

nasal congestion

older age

heart disorders (such as congestive heart failure)





the anatomy of a person’s mouth and sinuses


alcohol consumption

a cold

being overweight

nasal problems – nasal congestion, deviated septum

sleep deprivation

sleep apnea




partial closure of the vocal cords in REM sleep

narrowing of peripheral airways during expiration in REM sleep

functional or anatomical lesions on neurological structures that control breathing

Symptoms and signs

Sleep apnea


snorting, choking, gasping sound when trying to breathe


repeated episodes: 5-30/hour, sometimes lasting all night


loud snoring


sudden awakening


shortness of breath


dry mouth and sore throat in the morning






hypersomnia (sleepiness during day-time)




concentration problems





snoring is usually associated with obstructive sleep apnea, but not all people who snore necessarily have the condition


Sleep apnea:


detection tests: nocturnal polysomnography (equipment monitors heart, brain and lungs activity, breathing patterns and oxygen levels) and home sleep tests (with portable monitoring devices)


physical evaluations: ear, nose and throat doctor to check for blockage, cardiologist, neurologist (to check for central sleep apnea causes)


for mild cases of sleep apnea improvement can be seen by making changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking


continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – a device/machine that delivers air through a mask that you place on your nose; Auto-CPAP (automatically adjust pressure while sleeping)


expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) – single-use valve-like devices that help reduce snoring


oral appliances – help keep your throat open


surgery: tissue removal from the back of your mouth (tonsils also) and upper throat, jaw repositioning, nasal surgery to remove polyps or repair a deviated septum), implants (plastic rods are implanted in the soft upper tissue of the throat), tracheostomy (making a new airway in the neck, in severe cases where there is no other solution)



Snoring and catathrenia:


in the case of snoring, your doctor might recommend an imaging test, such as an x-ray to see where the problem is and what can be done


catathrenia is a rare condition that is not life threatening; only in very severe cases a sleeping aid machine is recommended

  • Sleep apnea is actually just snoring


    Alcohol helps in treating sleep apnea and insomnia


    Not even severe cases of sleep apnea are life-threatening


    Snoring is a common problem among men and it is harmless


    Nocturnal groaning is related to nightmares


    Nocturnal groaning affects the quality of sleep


Over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.


1 in 10 children can be affected by obstructive sleep apnea.


1 in 5 adults in the US suffer from a form of mild sleep apnea.


Around half of the adults worldwide snore


About 90 million Americans suffer from snoring

Did you know?

Sleeping on one side can actually help with obstructive sleep apnea.


Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and accidents.


World Sleep Day: March 16


Snoring is associated with serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, slowed metabolism, weight gain, loss of concentration