5 Tips For Battling Catathrenia

01/26/2012 05:50 pm ET
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Catathrenia is a rare sleep disorder that usually affects adults. We spoke to Roxanne Valentino, M.D., medical director of the St. Thomas Center for Sleep in Nashville, Tenn., for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you think you might have Catathrenia, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Shellie Braeuner

Catathrenia is groaning during sleep. "You may never know you have catathrenia," says Dr. Valentino. "But your sleep partner will." She says it's more than just an added sound when exhaling. "People with catathrenia make long sustained sounds. They may be groaning, but their brains are completely asleep and they wake completely rested."

Relax

"Catathrenia is completely benign," she says. The sleeper isn't affected by the condition, and it doesn't indicate any other problem. But there are things a sleep partner can do to sleep a little easier.

Listen For Unusual Sounds During Inhalation

Dr. Valentino advises sleep partners to "listen to any unusual sounds" coming from the sleeper. Catathrenia is a sound the sleeper makes as he or she exhales. "If the sleeper is making a small groan or squeak as he or she inhales, it may not be catathrenia. It might be sleep apnea, which should [also] be treated."

Use White Noise

"If your sleep partner's noises are keeping you awake," says Dr. Valentino, "try a white noise generator." These machines, such as fans or sleep speakers, can cover the sound of groaning. "I discourage people from turning on the TV to distract them," she says. "Television stimulates the brain and further disturbs sleep."

Try Earplugs

Earplugs are extremely useful for blocking out catathrenia-related noises. "They block out the groaning and other environmental noises," she says.

Seek Professional Help

"If you have tried to cope with the catathrenia and are still losing sleep, it may be time to see a doctor together [with your sleep partner]," says Dr. Valentino. There are a variety of ways to deal with sleep disturbances. "And everyone deserves a good night's sleep."

Roxanne Valentino, M.D., earned her medical degree from the Ohio State University. She completed her residency at the Cleveland Clinic, followed by a fellowship specializing in sleep medicine and neurophysiology. Dr. Valentino is certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in clinical neurophysiology.

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder? What worked for you?